5 Steps to Keep Hackers and Viruses Out of Your PC

man hacking a personal account and stealing all the money

Keep your System Updated

Running Windows and it’s software on the latest version is a must. One of the technique that hackers use to infiltrate into a PC is leveraging security flows into a software. Running on an outdated version of Windows or other Applications opens the door to Malware and Viruses. Nobody wants to get hacked. It sucks and I still remember how it felt like when I got hacked for the first time.

My PC was acting weird and slow and out from nowhere  a red background  with a skeleton and an lock appeared on my screen. All my data was encrypted and I was a victim of a Ransomware attack. On my screen there was a list of instructions on how I can recover my data. The author of this virus was asking a lot of money in order for him to decrypt my data. I lost pictures, projects, important files because I skipped over all updates that popped.

Keep your Windows up to date!

Microsoft Windows is the main target of attacks. That is not because is more vulnerable than Mac or Linux, but because is the most used Operating System. Security issues are a big concern for Microsoft and they paid a lot of attention on it. The latest Windows version is more secured than ever. Microsoft is doing a good job in preventing attacks and stopping viruses to multiply on your System

From windows 8 Microsoft implemented an auto update feature so they can be sure that you are using the latest updates. You can also check the updates manually and here are the steps to take:

  1. Click on Start button -> Settings;
  2. Go to Update & security -> Windows Update -> Update Status
  3. Click Check for updates

Illustration of windows update

Update your third party software

Keeping your Windows updated is not enough to protect you from viruses. Your other software running on your PC can be a portal to hackers. When you install a piece of software you give it access to you system. This privileges can be used to infiltrate into you Computer and do damage. The engineers that developed those apps are constantly testing and fixing security and performance issues the software will be safe and run smoothly.

Usually the third party software will auto update itself but is a good idea to check for latest updates. Remember: those popups about a piece of software that you have installed on your PC, is not there to annoy you or sell you something. They are meant to keep you safe and make your PC perform better.

Update your Drivers

The hardware on your PC needs those drivers in order to work properly. Updating them is going to help you with performance and security. You can follow those steps to check and update your Drivers:

  1. Press windows key + x and select Device Manager
  2. Right click on the hardware that you want to update the driver for
  3. Click Update Driver Software -> Select Search automatically for updated driver software

Illustration of device manager

Run Windows as Standard User

The second most important thing after keeping all your system up to date is to Run windows as a Standard User. By default, Windows have to have an Admin account. This account is created when  the operating system is installed on your machine. Most of the people will just use the admin account. They will not create a Standard User for the day to day activities. But let’s see what is the fundamental difference between standard and admin.

An Admin User can do pretty much everything on the machine. From installing software to deleting important system files that will cause Windows to crash. A standard User can perform pretty much everything except accessing system files or installing apps. As a standard User you can still install programs on your PC. When you want to do that, a popup will show up asking for the admin password.

When you are the victim of an attack, installing software or accessing your system files are some of the methods used. Running your system as Standard User will prevent and stop the threat.

To create a Standard User account on your PC on Windows 10, follow the instruction below:

  1. From the start menu open Settings and click Accounts
  2. Choose Family & other people
  3. Select Add someone else to this PC under Other people
  4. Click I don’t have this person’s sign-in information and select Add a user without a Microsoft account
  5. Enter the username, password and password hint for your new  account and click Next to complete the account creation.

Illustration of microsoft account

Don’t access Fishy websites

Another channel that hacker use to infiltrate into your Computer is the Browser. They can set viruses, malware, ransomware or block your browser window trying to scam you. There are few things you have to keep in mind when you are surfing on the internet.

1. Look at the url.

The first thing you should do is to inspect the url. Use your judgement to determine if is safe or not. Few principles apply here:

  • Is it a .com (.org, . net)? Most infected website have the .com inside the url name not as the extension(eg. http://ebay.com.freestuff.tk)
  • The domain name is to long. Not all such websites are bad, but some have a really long name. If the Url contains a phrase or sentence telling that you can download music, videos, books for free, Stay away! Downloading pirated resources is not a good idea. They can be infected and it can cost you your PC

2. Your browser doesn’t trust the website.

Modern Browser have a security system built in. Developers keep to help their users safe by exposing known malicious websites. They worn you about the website before you enter it and you can access your website at your own risk. This kind of website pop up every day so it is a good idea to keep your browser up to date

3. The Website is full of adds.

Most of the website are full of ads this days. This is one way that the owner of the website can monetize it. But there are some websites that have to much ads on it. To much that can make your PC slow when accessing it. There is one thing that I keep in mind when coming across those types of websites. If a website will open another tab or another window on my browser it has to much advertisement and I will exit them.

4. Peer to peer websites.

Those places are packed with pirated content so you should not use them anyway. The users of this kind of websites have the best intentions when sharing their content but, You don’t have the guarantee that what you are downloading is not infected. The shared file can also be downloaded from a user with an infected PC and the pear that is sharing it has no idea that he is putting out viruses.

Don’t open suspicious Emails

Email providers are already keeping you away from known threats by sending them into the junk folder. But not all bad email end up there. New scammers, viruses and malware are pooping up every day. Before your email provider know about their existence, it can be to late for some users, including you. There are few things to keep in mind to stay safe when you receive a email from an unknown sender.

Look at the subject. When someone really wants you to open an email it will use a ‘clickbait’ subject. This is simply a to good to be true offer or a shocking news title that will be impossible to resist opening. “Breaking news. Michael Jackson is alive. See pictures here!!”, “Get $100.000 instant now! Claim your prize Now!”; just to name a few. Some of this types of emails can infect your computer by just opening them.

Do not download attachments. Be suspicious if your email sent by someone you don’t know has an attachment. Downloading and opening it can infect your device. Pictures, zip files, audio files, videos can all contain viruses and malware that can put your PC and personal information at risk.

Use an Antivirus Software

Adding an extra layer of protection is always a good idea. If you did all of the above you are in pretty good shape but not 100% safe. Having a Antivirus software installed on your PC is vital. Think of it as 24/7 security guard that scans everyone entering your computer. It scans websites, files, emails, ads, to make sure you are not a victim of an attack. You can land by mistake on an infected page, open an email that contains malware or using a usb drive that is infected. Having a antivirus installed can prevent the damage.

There are so many antivirus software out there and you have no idea what to choose. We try to keep an eye on the most used one and review them for you. For 2019 we concluded that Bitdefender is the best option. You can read our review here.