Windows 10 sure has come a long way. It started out as an unstable buggy mess, but it now works pretty smoothly. And it’s also quite secure too.
But that doesn’t mean you can take it easy and not worry about cyber threats. There are still plenty of things you can do to make your computer even safer. We’ll take a look at them in this quick article:
1. First – Always Make Sure Windows Is Up-to-Date
An outdated Windows is a hacker’s best friend. They can easily abuse system vulnerabilities to take over your computer and steal your data.
For example, if you don’t update your Windows, you will be vulnerable to the EternalBlue exploit. Or your machine could fall victim to the latest Windows 10 exploit – SMBGhost.
To update your system, do the following:
- Type update in the search bar.
- Click Check for updates.
- Under Windows Update on the right, click Check for updates.
- Wait for Windows to install its updates and restart your computer if necessary.
2. Use a VPN When You Go Online
As cool as the Internet is, it kind of feels like the Wild West nowadays. You never know when a hacker might be eavesdropping on your online communications. Or when your device might accidentally connect to fake hotspots. Or when a very skilled hacker could use your IP address to remotely take over your computer.
In the blink of an eye, all your life savings could be gone from your bank account, or important documents and login credentials could be stolen without you even knowing.
And that’s exactly why you need to use a VPN when you browse the web. If you don’t know what that is, it’s an online service that hides your IP address and encrypts your data. Here’s how it works:
- You install a VPN app and use it to connect to a VPN server.
- The two negotiate and establish an encrypted connection (also called a “tunnel”) between them.
- Any data that goes between the app and server is encrypted end-to-end, so nobody can spy on it.
- When you visit a site, your connection requests will go to its web server through the VPN server.
- Because of that, any site you browse will see the requests coming from the server, not your device. So they’ll only see the server’s IP address.
Overall, VPNs are a great way to protect your privacy from hacker eavesdropping, website tracking, government surveillance, ISP snooping. You’ll even be safe on fake networks since your traffic is encrypted.
Even better, some VPNs have firewall-like features that block your connections to shady domains. So you’re less likely to land on phishing sites.
You just need to make sure you use a reliable tool. So be sure to check out the best Windows VPNs here.
3. Create a Restore Point
Think of restore points as “save games” for your computer. If something goes wrong (you accidentally install software that messes up your registries, for example), you can just “reload” them to restore Windows to a previous state where it worked without problems.
To create a restore point, just do this:
- Type restore in the search bar, and click Create a restore point.
- Select the drives you want to back up, and click Configure.
- Check this option: Turn on system protection.
- When you’re done, hit Create and wait for Windows to finish the process.
- Alternatively, just hit Apply followed by Okay. Windows should automatically create a restore point whenever it installs a new update.
4. Enable the Firewall and Use Antivirus Protection
We know Windows Defender can be a nuisance at times, but a firewall is an important layer of defense for your network. It stops malicious traffic and outbound/inbound connections from compromising it.
If you disabled it or someone else did that, here’s how to re-enable it:
- Type firewall in the search bar.
- Select Windows Defender Firewall.
- On the left, click Turn Windows Defender Firewall on or off.
- Under Private Network Settings and Public Network Settings, select Turn on Windows Firewall Defender.
- Hit OK, and you’re done.
Besides that, you should install antivirus software on your computer. It’s the only way to stop malware infections from taking over your system. Make sure to keep the program up-to-date, and to run regular scans.
We recommend checking out ESET and Malwarebytes.
5. Don’t Disable UAC (User Account Control)
UAC (User Account Control) can be pretty annoying – especially when you get a confirmation prompt for every single program you run.
But it’s a pretty important security feature in Windows since it prevents unauthorized changes to your operating system. So if you really want to be safe, don’t disable it like most people say you should.
If you or someone else already disabled it, here’s how to turn it back on:
- Type UAC in the search bar, and select Change User Account Control Settings.
- Switch the slider from Never notify to Always notify. If that’s not ideal for you, switch it to Notify me only when apps try to make changes to my computer.
- Hit OK, and you’re done.
6. Secure Your Web Browser
The last thing you want is to go through all this trouble to make your Windows machine safer only for a malicious script to take over your browser when you go online, causing you way more headaches than you needed.
So we recommend going the extra mile, and securing your browser(s) too. Here’s how you can do that:
- Make sure it’s up-to-date.
- Use a script blocker like uMatrix to stop background scripts from starting up without your permission.
- Use uBlock Origin to protect yourself from annoying and potentially malicious ads.
- Phishing is everywhere online, so make sure you use Stanford’s Anti-Phishing Browser Extensions.
How Else Do You Like to Secure Windows?
Do you use tools we didn’t mention? Do you rely on specific tweaks we didn’t cover?
Tell us all about them then – in the comments or on social media, wherever it’s fine for you.