Computer protection in 5 easy steps

So you’ve got a shiny new computer – or you’re not quite sure if your old PC is protected properly. In both cases, here are the steps you need to take to take to protect your computer from hackers, malware and other threats.

This article is aimed at Windows 10 PC users. If you are on a Mac, see this Mac protection article.

1. Install an internet security suite

This is where it all starts. You want to get a comprehensive, easy-to-use internet security suite that will cover all your internet security needs in one fell swoop. The best security software will make sure your computer stays protected from malware and hackers, and protects your internet browsing.

We recommend you improve your computer protection with our premium security and privacy suite F-Secure TOTAL. You can try it out 30 days free, no commitment needed.

2. Use unique, strong passwords and a password manager

If other people have access to your computer – which is almost always the case unless you stay locked in a room and never move your computer – you must have your login password protected. Also, to keep your PC protected, the password shouldn’t be too easy to guess, and definitely not be written on a Post-It note under the keyboard. It’s the first place everyone checks.

You also need passwords for your email, social media accounts and all the various services you are using. It would be tempting to use the same password everywhere. Please don’t fall into that trap. If one of the services gets hacked, your password might leak and all your accounts are at risk. Almost 300 personal records are stolen online every single second. You can check online whether your password has been leaked in known leaks from haveibeenpwned.com. You’d be surprised how often that happens.

The solution to not having to remember all your passwords is a password manager, which stores all your passwords securely and lets you access them on any device. There is a password manager included in F-Secure TOTAL suite, so it’ll keep you covered. The password manager will also help you come up with strong passwords.

3. Update your software and keep it updated

Any software made by humans, including computer security software, is never perfect. There are new vulnerabilities discovered constantly, both in your operating system and the applications you are running on your PC. It is essential that you keep automatic updates on in your Windows settings.

You can find the automatic update setting in Windows by writing “Windows Update Settings” in the search bar in the bottom left and clicking on the link you get. In “Advanced options” you can select “Automatic (recommended)”. This setting should be turned on by default.

In addition to Windows, keep automatic updates on in all your software, especially browsers as they are so central to your internet experience and the security of your computer. They have the automatic updates on by default – for a good reason.

4. Encrypt your data

If you happen to lose your computer, your data can be accessed even if the thief doesn’t have your password – unless you encrypt your hard drive. You probably wouldn’t want anybody to go through your photos, emails and browsing history, for example.

Some PCs will have the encryption enabled by default, some don’t. Unfortunately, due to hardware requirements, not all PCs will support this.

You can check the status of your encryption by opening Settings app and going to System > About. Look for subtitle called “Device Encryption”. 

If you are running Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise, you also have the opportunity to use a stronger encryption called BitLocker Drive Encryption which is included in your operating system. You can find BitLocker Drive Encryption in Control Panel > System and Security.

Now that you have encrypted your local data, you should encrypt your internet traffic, too. Every time you connect on public WiFi, anybody on the same network can potentially see all of your unencrypted traffic – and even the sites that are protected – even if they wouldn’t see which exact pages you visit, they see which sites you contact.

There is also another threat in public WiFi in addition to privacy concerns. A hacker could potentially intercept your traffic and inject malware or fraudulent web pages to lure you into giving out your password.

You can encrypt your traffic by using a VPN, such as the one found in F-Secure TOTAL. Then your traffic will be unreadable to outsiders and your connection can’t be intercepted.

5. Keep your firewall up

Firewall is on by default in your Windows. Make sure that it stays so, as it is a vital component in keeping unauthorized traffic out and the protection of your computer intact.

You can check the status of your firewall by going to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Security > Firewall & network protection > Windows Defender Firewall. Make sure it is switched on.

If you are using F-Secure TOTAL or SAFE, you can get to the firewall via the Tools > Windows Firewall Settings option.

These five easy steps ensure your computer is protected. The core of keeping your computer safe is common sense and a security suite. You can try F-Secure TOTAL security and privacy suite free for 30 days. 

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