Security Basics For Windows Users

Windows81With Windows malware on the rise, now seems like a good time for a refresher on basic security advice for Windows users.

First, the bad news. If you are using Windows XP or Windows Vista, you need to upgrade as soon as possible for your own safety. Your computer can no longer run current antivirus software, nor does it receive security updates. Even longstanding programs like Google Chrome now consider WinXP and Vista obsolete. Below you’ll find resources on how to plan your upgrade.

As with any computer, the best defense for Windows users is prevention, including reliable backups and solid security software. Equally important, you also need to know how to recognize and avoid common Internet threats.

If you’d like to know more about Windows security, stay tuned to Tech Tips via Facebook and RSS, or subscribe by email.

Windows Antivirus Programs
Good security starts with a quality antivirus program. You can use the freebies, but I strongly recommend that you invest in a commercial security suite. It’s money well spent.

Upgrading From Windows XP and Windows Vista

Tech Tips – Recommended Advice For Windows Users

 

Ransomware: A Dangerous Threat To Your Computer

Computer SecurityRansomware is a particularly nasty form of computer virus that encrypts your data, then demands an electronic ransom for the encryption key. Why is ransomware so hazardous, and how can you remove it?

Ransomware is vicious because it doesn’t just render your computer unusable. It encrypts all of your files, including those on networked computers, removable drives, and server volumes. To get the key to unlock the encryption, cyber-criminals demand that you pay. Ransomware has decimated businesses and consumers alike. It’s been around on Windows for ages (see my writeup of Cryptolocker from a few years ago), but recently the first Mac-based ransomware has appeared in the wild.

Should You Pay?
There’s some debate amongst computer security experts as to whether it is better to pay the ransom or not. Sophos’ Naked Security blog has a good overview of the discussion. They also have an excellent article on what you can do if you are infected by ransomware.

How To Avoid Ransomware
You are far better off avoiding ransomware in the first place. Start by making sure you have multiple sets of known good backups. A clean backup is one of your best protections against ransomware and other viruses. Below you’ll find my guide on backup options for Windows and Mac, including how to test your backups to make sure they work when you need them.

All of my usual security recommendations apply as well. Use a top-quality antivirus program, and keep your computer up to date. If you’re on an obsolete version of Windows or Mac, now’s the time to upgrade. Check your default security settings, and use strong, unique passwords on every site.

Here are some Tech Tips articles to help. You can also sign up to receive Tech Tips by email and follow Tech Tips on Facebook for the latest tech support advice for Windows and Mac.

How To Back Up Your Computer (For Windows And Mac)

How To Create Strong Passwords (2016 Edition)

How To Configure Security Settings For Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android

Security Basics For Mac Users

How To Protect Your Web Browser

How To Back Up Your Computer (For Windows And Mac)

When was the last time you backed up your computer? If you have automatic backups set, do you check them on a regular basis? Have you ever tested your backups by trying to restore some of your files? It’s not enough to set your backups and forget … [Continue reading]

What You Need To Know About Windows 10

Many people have asked me about Windows 10. They want to know if they should upgrade, and how they can reconfigure the settings to avoid Win10's notorious privacy issues. Windows 10's default security settings are not conducive to consumer … [Continue reading]

How To Create Strong Passwords (2016 Edition)

Time once again for my updated guidelines on creating passwords. The short version: use passphrases that are at least 12 characters long and different on every site, plus two-factor authentication where possible. And for pity’s sake, stop using weak … [Continue reading]

Security Basics For Mac Users

If you’re not protecting your Mac from Internet threats, your computer can easily be overcome by viruses and malware. But running antivirus isn’t enough. Mac users also need to be just as aware of scams, fake apps, and other Internet dangers as their … [Continue reading]

Microsoft Alienates Customers With Forced Windows 10 Upgrades

win10

Microsoft is facing public backlash for automatically upgrading the computers of unsuspecting customers to Windows 10. Since public outcry Microsoft has reversed course, claiming that the forced installations were due to their accidentally making … [Continue reading]

How To Configure Security Settings For Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android

android

When was the last time you checked the security preferences on your computer, tablet, or smart phone? Unfortunately, the default security settings for most devices are woefully inadequate, leaving you vulnerable to viruses, malware, and hacking … [Continue reading]

How To Protect Your Web Browser

browser

Your Web browser lets you access Internet sites, but it can also be a gateway for viruses, malware, and more. Here’s how to keep your browser protected and secure. (Don't miss my latest article for The Northwest Herald - Protect Your Window To The … [Continue reading]

Windows XP Is Dead. Now What?

Windows XP

As you may have heard, Microsoft has ceased support for Windows XP. Many people assume it’s okay to keep using it. They’re dead wrong. WinXP is already vulnerable to viruses because it’s been out so long. Now we have the nightmare scenario in … [Continue reading]