The digital world can be a scary place. There are cybercriminals from every corner of the world looking to steal our credentials, rip us off, and cause all kind of chaos.
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.
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 provides real-time protection for your home or small business PC that guards against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.
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.
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.
We recommend using FREEDOME VPN brought to you by our sponsor F-Secure. F-Secure is a publicly listed computer security company with a 30-year spotless track record of protecting its customers and respecting their privacy.
For more security tips listen to Kim's free Komando on Demand podcast
Most of us use the internet every day. Are you putting much thought into what you are doing? Your online activity can have a dramatic impact on your life and your family’s security.
Listen to this free podcast where Kim talks about the 7 things you should never do online.
For even more protection, here are 5 ways to keep your PC secure
When our PCs work normally, we sometimes take them for granted. We recklessly fill up our hard drives with data, download files, install applications and browse the web as we please. But of course, all it takes is one installation of a malicious application to ruin your PC and worse, have all your information stolen.