Malware, ransomware, and phishing attacks are just a few examples of threats that we need to be wary of. Scammers behind these attacks have no scruples and will use every tool in their playbook to find new victims.
That’s why we need to take precautions to stay protected. To help, here are three security programs that should be on every computer or laptop.
Microsoft Security Essentials
If you’re running Windows 8 or 10, you may have noticed that your system already has built-in antivirus and malware protection software called Windows Defender. It’s actually a decent program for guarding your PC against virus and malware threats.
However, Windows Defender is not available for Windows 7 machines. If you’re looking to protect an older Windows 7 machine, you can download the comparable Microsoft Security Essentials. (If you’re still running Windows 7, please read this update about why you must upgrade Windows.)
Similar to Windows Defender, this free download will guard your Windows 7 PC against the latest virus and malware threats while providing real-time protection. It is not available for Windows 10, though.
ZoneAlarm Free Firewall
ZoneAlarm is a free, downloadable firewall and antivirus that is highly configurable and effective against many kinds of cyberattacks. Once installed, it will monitor all of your computer’s incoming and outgoing traffic with an option to go invisible by using Full Stealth Mode. It will also monitor programs for any malicious activity and behavior.
In addition, ZoneAlarm’s free firewall offers personal data and identity protection. It is available for Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista and XP.
Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer
When it comes to computer security, there are so many things to think about. You need antivirus software, anti-spyware programs and a firewall, but if you think security ends there, you’re sadly mistaken.
The Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer is a free download that will help you assess your computer’s security. It will make sure Windows and Office are updated with all the necessary security patches.
You can also learn about other security issues that you might otherwise overlook. For example, it will check for multiple administrator accounts to see if other users have more control over the machine than they should.
And what about your account password? If your password is weak, others might be able to access your account. The Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer will alert you if account passwords aren’t strong enough.
Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer gives you a detailed assessment that will be quite lengthy. Take the time to read it thoroughly and fix any problems listed. It is another tool in your arsenal to protect your machine.
Warning: This is a tool geared for advanced users. Following some of its recommendations could break other programs or Windows if done incorrectly. Before you make any changes to your system, be sure you understand what you are doing.
Bonus: Don’t forget to use a VPN
You may have heard of something called a virtual private network or VPN, for short, as a way to boost your online security, especially when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks. It is also a good way to hide your internet tracks from would-be snoops. When choosing a VPN, you need to trust the provider to respect your privacy.