Tight­eng Up Your PC’s Se­cu­rity

YOU’LL NEED THIS WIN­DOWS 10 If you have an older ver­sion of Win­dows, you should also use a third-party an­tivirus app.

Maximum PC - - R&D - –CAR­RIE MAR­SHALL

IT’S A JUN­GLE OUT THERE. When we go on­line, we have to bat­tle the var­i­ous vil­lains that roam the In­ter­net: ma­li­cious soft­ware, peo­ple try­ing to ac­cess our on­line ac­counts, fake “phish­ing” links, and other un­pleas­ant­ness. The good news is that Win­dows comes with a great range of tools to help keep you safe, and they’re not dif­fi­cult to use or com­pli­cated to set up. In this tu­to­rial, you’ll dis­cover the key Win­dows fea­tures that help keep your PC pro­tected, and how you can make sure they’re work­ing prop­erly.

Our screen­shots are of Win­dows 10, the safest ver­sion of Win­dows yet, but the tools and fea­tures we talk about work just fine in older ver­sions, too. For those Win­dows ver­sions, we rec­om­mend us­ing a third-party an­tivirus pro­gram, but other than that, the se­cu­rity fea­tures work much the same way in ev­ery ver­sion of Win­dows since Vista.

1 UP­DATE WIN­DOWS

Many se­cu­rity prob­lems have al­ready been solved, and Mi­crosoft reg­u­larly up­dates Win­dows to fix bugs and po­ten­tial is­sues. How­ever, those up­dates only work if you have them in­stalled on your PC, and the best way to do that is to have au­to­matic up­dates en­abled in “Set­tings > Win­dows Up­date” [ Image A]. If you don’t want au­to­matic up­dates, make sure you reg­u­larly check for them your­self.

2 HAVE EF­FEC­TIVE AN­TIVIRUS

Win­dows 10 comes with its own built-in se­cu­rity soft­ware, Win­dows De­fender Se­cu­rity Cen­ter. If you’re run­ning an ear­lier ver­sion of Win­dows, how­ever, we rec­om­mend in­stalling a third-party pro­gram, such as AVG Free ( www.avg.com) or Avast ( www.avast.com). What­ever an­tivirus soft­ware you have, though, it’s cru­cial that you keep it up to date by down­load­ing the new­est database—new viruses and other kinds of ma­li­cious soft­ware are dis­cov­ered daily.

3 UP­DATE YOUR APPS

You’ve up­dated Win­dows and your an­tivirus— what about Adobe Reader [ Image B] or Flash Player? Those apps, and many like them, are of­ten tar­geted by the peo­ple who make ma­li­cious soft­ware, be­cause they know that lots of PC users don’t up­date them. Some apps nag you ev­ery time an up­date is avail­able—Adobe Reader, for ex­am­ple—but oth­ers re­quire you to do so man­u­ally.

4 CRE­ATE A RE­STORE POINT

When you know you have a trou­ble-free PC, make a sys­tem Re­store Point. This means that if you get in­fected or suf­fer from ma­li­cious soft­ware, you can turn back time on your PC, and re­store it to

pris­tine con­di­tion. To cre­ate one, search for “Re­store Point,” then click “Cre­ate A Re­store Point > Sys­tem Prop­er­ties.” On Win­dows 10, you need to en­able “Sys­tem Re­store” in the “Con­fig­ure” sec­tion [ Image C].

5 USE STRONG PASS­WORDS

The most com­monly used pass­words in­clude “123456,” “qw­erty,” and “pass­word.” Us­ing them is a ter­ri­ble idea. Bad­dies’ soft­ware can guess sim­ple pass­words in a frac­tion of a se­cond, and if you use the same pass­word on mul­ti­ple sites and ser­vices, they can ac­cess ev­ery­thing you do. If you’re rub­bish at re­mem­ber­ing pass­words, get an app such as LastPass ( www.lastpass.com) to sug­gest and store them for you.

6 USE TWO-STEP VER­I­FI­CA­TION

Wher­ever pos­si­ble, use two-step ver­i­fi­ca­tion—also known as two-fac­tor au­then­ti­ca­tion—to pro­tect you when on­line. This adds an ex­tra layer of se­cu­rity when­ever you log in to a site on a com­puter or de­vice it doesn’t rec­og­nize; this typ­i­cally sends a code to your cell phone, and with­out the code, you can’t get in. You can en­able it on your Mi­crosoft ac­count in the Se­cu­rity Ba­sics page [ Image D].

7 SET APP PASS­WORDS

For even stronger se­cu­rity, you can cre­ate app pass­words, which are unique pass­words for spe­cific apps and de­vices —so, you would have one pass­word for your Out­look mail on your home PC, for in­stance, and a dif­fer­ent pass­word for the same ac­count on your tablet or phone. You need two-step ver­i­fi­ca­tion en­abled to use this; do that via your Mi­crosoft Ac­count Se­cu­rity Ba­sics.

8 SET THE FIRE­WALL

Ev­ery PC has open ports, the tech equiv­a­lent of doors. They al­low data to pass back and forth, but they can be used by ma­li­cious soft­ware, too. A fire­wall is a piece of soft­ware that blocks any doors that aren’t be­ing used by ap­proved apps, and Win­dows has a fire­wall built in [ Image E]. You’ll find it in the “Sys­tem and Se­cu­rity” sec­tion of Con­trol Panel, so make sure it’s switched on, un­less you have a sep­a­rate fire­wall app in­stalled.

9 BLOCK POP-UPS

Pop-up win­dows are of­ten used to dis­play con­vinc­ing but fake er­ror mes­sages, or to load ma­li­cious con­tent. The Edge web browser in Win­dows 10 blocks pop-ups by de­fault, but if you use a dif­fer­ent browser, you may need to en­able the fea­ture in the soft­ware’s “Op­tions” menu. If you want to block al­most all ads, you might want to in­stall an ad-block­ing browser ex­ten­sion.

10 BACK UP EV­ERY­THING

No mat­ter how se­cure you make your PC and the ser­vices you use, things can still go wrong. We’ve seen big-name firms hacked and their cus­tomers com­pro­mised, and lap­tops can be stolen. It’s im­por­tant to pre­pare for dis­as­ter, and have a backup of any­thing im­por­tant [ Image F]— not on your PC, but on a sep­a­rate de­vice, such as an ex­ter­nal drive or a cloud ser­vice, such as OneDrive.

Change this image for OWV153.ex­plore4.step_se­cure8 - the one cur­rently used here has too much UK-cen­tric and non Max­i­mum PC mag stuff show­ing on it

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