Windows has always been known as the most vulnerable and least protected OS on the market. Microsoft itself does very little to protect your PC, even with the inclusion of the Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) bundle that comes with Windows 8.
Everything from Windows Defender to Windows Firewall to everything in between don’t really measure up to the challenge. Even Microsoft has admitted that the MSE bundle is meant to be basic and isn’t good enough. Here’s how to protect your PC from online threats, when Microsoft won’t.
Protect Your PC When Microsoft Won’t
We’ve put together some tips, software suggestions and good practices to protect your PC since Microsoft has dropped the ball and finally admitted it.
Anti-Virus, Anti-Virus, Anti-Virus
If you’re currently using a PC without any form of anti-virus software, you’re asking for trouble. In fact, we’re shocked you’re even able to use your computer and haven’t had your identity stolen, yet. Truth be told, if you’re on a PC, you need anti-virus software. This offers real-time protection, firewall services and more. With live updates, you’re given the most up-to-date protection you can ask for from the nasty viruses that prey on the naïve of the Internet.
Some of the best anti-virus programs out there won’t require a cent from your wallet. Programs like Avira, Baidu and others offer free protection, where you can upgrade for more features, and give you the latest virus protection databases on the Web. If you want added protection, you can always upgrade or go with something more intensive like Kaspersky or Norton.
If you are not ready to get a paid anti-virus subscription yet, here is a list of the best free anti-virus software available today.
Adware, Malware and Spyware
Anti-virus is a good start to protecting your computer and if you do nothing else, make it anti-virus protection. However, if you want to take it a step further, get adware, malware and/or spyware protection, too. These infections may not stop your PC cold like a virus will but over time, they can slow down your PC, send information on your computing habits to advertisers and become a nuisance.
Some of the best adware, malware and spyware software titles come in free versions with the option to upgrade for more features. Malwarebytes is our personal favorite, with honorable mentions to Spybot and Ad-aware. You should be running these programs at least once a week, preferably when you’re away from your PC or after a long session on the Web.
Firewalls are a point of debate on the Web with some users ignoring them completely and others swearing by the safety they provide. Firewalls monitor incoming/outgoing Web traffic from a computer. When running Windows Firewall, it operates under a given set of rules that determines what type of Internet traffic can come and go from your PC.
For some, firewalls drive them crazy because they block legitimate traffic going to and from the computer. This can be bothersome when gaming or dealing with legal torrents. For others, firewalls offer an extra level of protection that can’t be beat. Windows Firewalls is a decent firewall, and if you’re not into treating your PC like Fort Knox, we recommend using it in conjunction with anti-virus software and tweaking it to your liking.
Controlling the privacy settings when surfing the Web is essential to keeping your information safe. Every browser from Internet Explorer to Chrome to Safari offers users a change to customize privacy settings. We recommend you go through each and every setting to control how you surf the Internet. Using a program like CCleaner once a week can also clear out junk files, browser history and more that can be used to share information about you online.
When you surf the Web, you have to understand that there’s a lot that can go wrong. Advertisers, web sites and others like to track your movements online to make revenue. Others, like hackers, create phishing websites to get login information. Wherever you go online, chances are someone is following you around. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad but the key is to be aware of your surfing habits online.
Make sure you’re avoiding websites that you know are dangerous to your security. Avoid clicking on links without hovering over them first to see if they lead to a legitimate website or blog. If you visit a web site that’s pop-up heavy, there might be something fishy going on, so make sure to scan your PC with your anti-virus software and adware programs to ensure your security.
Make sure to leave real-time protection on whenever using an anti-virus program and do weekly scans with adware, spyware and malware programs when you’re away from your PC. Use CCleaner weekly, too. By taking the initiative on protecting your PC from the threats of using it online, you can protect yourself where Microsoft admittedly fails. Protecting a PC isn’t hard to do, it just takes a bit of effort on your part and a chance in how you surf the Web.
Many PC users have known all along that what Microsoft claims protects them just wasn’t worth the time or energy to use. When it comes down to it, PCs are insecure machines in part because of Microsoft and in part because of how consumers user the Web.
By finding a happy medium, and protecting yourself, along with the tools Microsoft provides in the MSE, you can keep your PC safe from the perils of using the Web on a daily basis.