Protecting your computer - Make your computer 3 times safer in 3 minutes

11.12.2013 Simon Bradley

So you turn on your computer and log online to watch a video of a cat chasing the ball. On the darker side of the Web, people and programs alike are waiting for you to make just one wrong click. Everyone from black-hat hackers, to amateur cyber criminals, to even the National Security Agency of the United States, seem to be after the most personal of our information, and it may seem that there is often nothing we can do about it but hope that that email wasn’t filled with malware. But here are several practical steps you can do right now, in a couple of minutes, to make your computer a safer place to browse.

First, enable automatic software updates. Even though it might not sound like a technique very effective against virtual monsters, the updates usually come armed with patches for latest glitches, errors, and holes found within the system. That is to say that someone realized that there’s a way the software might be compromised and so he fixed the problem, and all it takes from you is to click on the install button to protect yourself from that line of attack in the future. If you’re using Windows, go to Control Panel->System and Security->Turn automatic update on and off->Install updates automatically.

Ok, that took about 10 seconds, and already you’re a bit safer online. Next up, we’re going a bit more pro, an encrypting our hard drive. In some versions of Windows 7 and 8, there is already a BitLocker encryption integrated into the system. It cyphers the data on your computer, and remains active in the background, denying access to outsiders. The formula starts the same way as before, and once you’re in System and Security, you click on BitLocker Drive Encryption and turn it on.

Whew, about 30 seconds have passed, and we’re already two levels better protected. But another layer would make us feel even safer, wouldn’t it? This might take a few minutes, but it should be worth the time. Modifying your account settings in Windows just a little bit could make a big difference. So begin by disabling any present guest accounts, set a password for each active account, and do not enable the automatic login. Then, set the screensaver to start after 1 to 5 minutes of inactivity, and select the option: ‘On resume, display logon screen’. Finally, ask for the user to enter their system password each time the PC has been passive for a while. Go to Power Options –> Require a password on wakeup to do so.

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