Computers have long been associated with work. However in recent years, with both access to the Internet and hardware becoming more affordable, computers in all shapes and sizes have become an integral part of the lives of casual users as well.
Significant diversification has occurred in the spectrum of PC applications – with more common folk embracing hobbies such as PC gaming, streaming, video and photo editing, recording music in addition to using computers for leisure, work or for their children’s education. This has been further fuelled by the work-from-home norm due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Either way, scammers and hackers are always reinventing methods to take advantage of new users although it would be wrong to say that experienced users and large corporations are completely immune to cyber-attacks. This is why it is always a good practice to have a dedicated antivirus for Windows installed on your machine.
Step 1: Covering the basics:
While it’s rare for an average user to be under attack with specifically targeted malware by some hacker, most systems get infected with malware due to basic mistakes made by users while using their computer. Experienced users typically avoid these to prevent malware infestation on their systems.
- Keep your OS updated: Developers are always working to improve the user experience. This includes improving hardware compatibility and optimization, bug fixes, and security updates. While every update may not be absolutely essential, Windows does categorize available updates based on their importance. So in case you prefer to keep automatic updates disabled, do perform important security updates at least once per month or so.
- Refrain from using Pirated Software: Many users cheap out on a few bucks to procure an ilegitimate copy of the software they need. This hurts the developer financially and also puts your PC at risk – Unlike legitimate software, pirated versions are not eligible to receive periodic security updates and that leaves your system open to security vulnerabilities. It is not uncommon for them to already contain hidden crypto-mining programs or malware as well.
- Choose unique passwords: A rookie mistake, never ever keep one password for multiple websites. In case one particular website gets breached, the hacker may use your login credentials to identify your email and get access to your inbox. This compromises your personal information as well as other accounts linked to that particular email account.
- Opt for two-factor authentication:This acts as a security net by preventing access to your account even if your password is compromised. Two-factor authentication requires real-time approval of a login attempt made on your account from a different device. So unless you are not the one trying to access your account but you receive an authentication request anyway, it probably means your password has been compromised and you can disapprove the authentication request before proceeding to a password reset.
- Avoid opening email attachments from unknown recipients:Scammers are always after your financial details so be wary of emails demanding information such as credit card information. Opening infected email attachments is one of the most common sources of malware infection on PCs. The other being accessing infecting USB drives.
Step 2: Getting dedicated antivirus software:
Every antivirus software will provide a basic level of protection against malware, although some do it better than others.
Having good antivirus software largely eliminates the common issues associated with viruses such as deletion and corruption of your personal files, slowing down of your computer due to high resource consumption and system instabilities.
In addition, they should warn you and prevent access to potentially unsafe websites and suspicious emails. You may also be offered features such as added encryption on web pages dealing with financial transactions, a password manager which can generate and store your passwords, and a system vulnerability scanner that identifies potential security vulnerabilities present in the programs installed on your PC.
Various renditions of antivirus software exist, so pick something which serves your needs effectively. For example, security software directed towards enterprise users will offer better security against threats like ransomware which have been responsible for crippling the operations of large companies.
But a less intense and more family-friendly plan is often cheaper by a significant margin and will provide you useful features such as parental controls to restrict content on the internet for your children, as well as the benefit of securing multiple devices under a single subscription.
Step 3: Advanced Security measures
If you are not satisfied with an antivirus alone, you may opt to get the following:
VPN – Stands for Virtual Private Network and essentially allows you to browse the internet with the added privacy of a virtual private network. It has the following inherent benefits:
- A secure VPN will mask your IP address, your real-time location, your device hardware information from all websites as well as your ISP. This may allow you to view content not available in your region.
- This is made possible by the “No-log” policy which doesn’t leave any traces of your browsing activity
- Your ISP will be unable to throttle browsing speeds on selective websites by observing your browsing preferences.
- All your personal and browsing information remains completely confidential unless you choose to share it yourself. Therefore you are also immune to targeted ads spamming your emails and socials.
Digital Identity Protection – A novel security software by Bitdefender, it has several advanced features:
- Gives you a comprehensive account of your Digital Footprint or your complete browsing activity and identifies whether any sensitive information has been shared that may be exploited by cybercriminals.
- Provides instant alerts if any personal information gets shared on dangerous places such as the dark web.
- Alerts you about impersonators on socials
In conclusion, installing advanced security software may not be crucial for most regular users who may do well with decent antivirus software – but in case you treat your online privacy and device security as a top priority, you know what to do.