Protect Your PC Against Harmful Threats
With over 50,000 malicious programs being created each day, protecting your PC has never been more important. It is more than likely that your PC contains important and confidential data that you want to keep secure. However, without the right protection, all of your data and privacy can easily be exposed to remote hackers. The major risks not only include data loss, but also identity theft and financial loss.
This article will show you some quick ways to get maximum protection against the variety of different threats that now exist. You should also be aware that even if your PC doesn't seem infected, it might still contain dangerous trojans. Many of these operate silently in the background, sending your data to a remote location. For this reason, everyone needs to take steps to secure their PC, because unfortunately, we are all at risk.
In order to protect your PC, you need to scan for viruses and malware on a regular basis. This can only be done with third party tools. Most of the anti-virus software is pretty good and they are updated daily with new definitions. Due to the sheer volume of malicious programs being created, no product will cover everything, but they do come close.
Running anti-virus software is extremely simple. You just install the application and it will do the rest. Most of them will automatically scan on a regular basis, so you don't need to do much. If you aren't scanning regularly, we recommend you should do it at least once per week.
One of the best rated anti-virus applications is Microsoft Security Essentials. Not only did this beat out all the top competitors in the field, but it's also 100% free. We highly recommend this application and if you don't have any protection, install it now. Other top products for anti-virus include McAfee and F-Secure.
The firewall is what protects incoming and outgoing traffic to your PC. Your PC has thousands of ports that are used for various types of applications and traffic. By having these ports exposed, it is an open invitation to hackers and malicious programs.
A firewall will block access to unneccesary ports and only allow certain traffic in and out of your PC. You can of course configure the firewall to open other ports as they are required, however, the less exposed you are, the better. There are both hardware and software firewall options available.
Windows has its own firewall built in. You can access the firewall settings via the Control Panel.
The Windows firewall allows you to configure inbound and outbound rules. So at anytime you can give access to a certain program or feature. You can also set rules for different networks within Windows.
If you want to use something other than the Windows firewall, you can have a look at Zone Alarm or Sygate. These products have been around for years and do a great job.
Many routers on the market also have their own firewall built in. If your router does have its own firewall, it is recommended that you take time to learn the configuration options. Stopping traffic at the hardware level is often more effective than software based solutions. A combination of both is the best way to secure your PC from unwanted intruders.
Email Attachments and Phishing
Email attachments are a leading cause of PC infection and we can't stress enough how careful you need to be.
DO NOT open any email attachment unless you are 100% sure of the sender. In many cases the sender name and address can be spoofed, or they may have received a virus which is sending to everyone in their address book. So even if you receive an email from someone you know, the attachment could still be bogus. Just use common sense and be vary wary of .exe email attachments. If you are expecting photos from a friend, but receive a .exe, do not open it.
Phishing is another type of scam sent out generally by email. It will pretend to be from a bank, financial institution or other service that is requesting you to login. The link will look exactly like the official site, but it is setup only to capture your login details and then use them to steal money etc. Never login to any site or bank account that is linked from your email. No financial institution will email asking for you to login. Always type the url directly into your browser and then login.
General Web Browsing
Another major source of PC infection is via malicious websites. Many websites will try to install an Active-X or executable program on your PC. Never accept attempts of a website to install software on your PC. Only install software from sites that you completely trust. Unwanted prompts trying to install programs should always be ignored.
Be careful which sites you visit keep your web browser security settings on a high level. This will help defend against unwanted applications and scripts trying to invade your PC.