How to Keep Your Windows 10 PC Secure this 2021Vanessa Venugopal
Windows 10 is Microsoft’s latest and most updated operating system. It has surpassed the number of Windows 7 users since Microsoft ended its support to the latter. Global Stats released a report showing Windows 10 desktop users amount to 77.54%, while Windows 7 composed of 16.78%, higher than Windows 8 and 8.1 users (3.77% and 0.96% respectively).
With the increasing number of Windows 10 users, it is best to assume that the number of threats in this operating system is plenty. Hackers are fond of hacking Microsoft’s operating system, not because it is vulnerable, but because it is the most popular operating system in the market.
Windows 10 comes with built-in security such as Windows Defender, Bitlocker, and more. You can use these features to keep your device secure together with third-party apps we will recommend for you to install on your PC. So whether you are using a Windows Home or Pro version, here are ways you can protect your device.
Using Built-in Security Software of Windows 10 PC
Windows Update is the most crucial security setting of Microsoft. It manages all your software and systems updates to keep your Windows 10 PC protected from hackers.
Updating software, applications, and your system fix bugs and security patches. These security patches and fixed bugs help secure vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers.
In Windows 10, it comes with a built-in feature that automatically updates the system and software that needs it. All you need an internet connection. But it doesn’t take care of all the apps you have on your PC.
Microsoft Defender is formerly known as Microsoft AntiSpyware and Windows Defender Antivirus. It’s a built-in antivirus security software used to scan and detect viruses, spyware, malware, and other infectious threats.
It’s an endpoint protection software that incorporates machine learning, data analysis, and in-depth threat resistance research to give the protection your Windows 10 PC needs.
How Microsoft Defender works:
- Real-time protection: Always-on scanning whenever files or software are downloaded. It also includes behavior monitoring and real-time protection. It can detect and block apps that are deemed unsafe.
- Cloud-delivered security: Provides instant detection of threats – new or old – and blocking its activities
- Product updates: Make sure Microsoft Defender gets the latest updates all the time to keep it safe with the best features available.
Microsoft Defender SmartScreen
SmartScreen is a security software of Windows 10 that works well with Microsoft Edge. It functions to identify phishing websites and those that contain malware.
- Scans website for any suspicious activities and alerts the user by displaying a warning page.
- It uses a dynamic list of reported phishing sites and malicious software as its basis to determine and warn users that the site is unsafe. Therefore, it is blocked.
- It also scans files you download and use a list of report malicious files and sites to determine if the file you have downloaded is safe or not.
Bitlocker is only available for Pro and Enterprise versions. It’s an encryption technology by Microsoft that secures your data from unauthorized individuals. It encrypts your drive and requires two-factor authentication to access its content.
Windows’ Bitlocker requires only your Windows login and no password for it to work.
So if you think you need to secure your drive from hackers, your job requires you to encrypt your data, and you want extra peace of mind, then Bitlocker can help you with it. If you are using Windows 10 Home, you might want to convert to the Pro version to experience this feature.
Another protection application you can use on your Windows 10 PC is Sandbox. It’s a built-in application available on both Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise only. So again, if you are running your PC with a Home version, your only choice is to get a third-party Sandbox application.
Windows Sandbox is a desktop software application that permits users to run a file or application safely in isolation. When an application is running inside the Sandbox, it remains inside of it and doesn’t affect the host machine. So, whenever a threat is present, it won’t cause any issues to your operating system.
It utilizes the hardware-based virtualization for kernel isolation to separate it from the host. In addition, every time you close the Sandbox, all the running files and software would be deleted. So, when you use Sandbox again, you get a fresh start.
Microsoft Defender Application Guard
Microsoft Defender Application Guard is a built-in protection program that secures the online activities of employees. Users of Pro and Enterprise Windows can enjoy a safe browsing activity with this built-in protection software.
Application Guard helps isolate sites that are safe from unsafe when using Edge or Internet Explorer. Users can freely input which websites are safe to visit. If you enter a website that is not on the list, it will automatically open on a Hyper-V-enabled virtual machine.
Its immediate isolation process can prevent the spread of malware into your devices’ system. When a site or application is in isolation, it means that the host’s system or device is separated and protected. It won’t give hackers the chance to spy on enterprise data and steal personal information.
Microsoft makes logging in easier and more personal with Windows Hello. With this biometric-based technology, users can access their Microsoft device and account using a fingerprint, iris scan, or facial recognition. Since biometric logins are personal, it is considered an alternative way to enhance your data and device’s security.
Windows Hello also makes it easy to access accounts as users don’t have to use complicated passwords anymore. Some even consider this form of technology as far more superior than using a traditional password for logins.
It works in most Windows 10 PCs, but it should be equipped with a fingerprint scanner and camera that captures facial recognition.
User Account Control
User Account Control (UAC) is a security tool that helps prevent malware from deploying its attacks and damaging your PC. UAC permits the blocking of unauthorized apps and any changes that can occur on your system’s settings.
When a new application is needed or changes need to be applied to a system, UAC will first require permission or authorization. So when users or employees want to use an app, they are required to ask for administrator access.
Controlled Folder Access
Enabling Controlled Folder Access can limit damages caused by ransomware attacks. It reviews applications permitted to make changes on files and folders while blocking apps that are considered unsafe and unauthorized.
Find My Device
In case that you might lose your device, Microsoft offers an option to locate it. The Find My Device feature can locate stolen or lost devices when it is connected to the internet. Once you have located your device, you have the option to lock your device and reset the password remotely.
Protection Using Third-party Applications
Besides the built-in security component of Microsoft, there are tools available online that add a layer of security. With Microsoft tools and third-party apps, you’ll get the ultimate protection for your Windows 10 PC.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a technology used to keep your data safe when you connect online. It encrypts the server by masking the IP address with an unidentifiable IP address.
Why is it important to hide your IP address?
Marketers and businesses use Big Data to gather people’s browser history and online activities to help them with their ad target. Also, governments use people’s browser history to know about their activities and personal information.
When you are connecting to a public Wi-Fi network, your data would be exposed to prying eyes. However, with a VPN, it encrypts all the data that comes in and out of your network. So, hackers have no chance of spying on it.
VPNs you might want to give a try:
ExpressVPN: It is a highly recommended VPN software with plenty of positive reviews on the internet. Its basic features include over 160 server locations, masking IP address, compatible with any OS and devices, access to any content in the world, and provides online anonymity. For advanced features, it provides VPN split tunneling, private DNS for a safer and faster connection, uses industry-leading AES-256 encryption technology, and doesn’t log or keep traffic data and activities.
NordVPN: It has similar features to ExpressVPN but also includes one-click online protection on a mobile device, 5500 servers, protects data continuously using Kill Switch, share large files with safe P2P servers, and block malware and ads.
Antivirus / Anti-malware Software
Installing an antivirus software application is a must. Even if Microsoft has built-in features to protect your device, using legitimate antivirus software can protect your device from various threats. Antivirus applications have a list of known threats, which are blocked automatically. In addition, if a threat is unknown or new, antivirus software programs are intelligent enough to run it on a cloud-based scanning technology to determine if it’s a threat or not.
Antivirus software with world-class protection:
Avast Premium Security: Avast has been around since 1995, and for more than 25 years, it has proven to be one of the best-known antivirus software for devices of any kind. Avast Premium Security, which includes Avast Premier, provides safe online activities like banking and shopping, scans websites, blocks hackers from access your PC, and other attacks from infecting your device. Positive Avast Premium Security reviews guarantee that you’ll get the best protection for your PC. Get your Avast Premium Security download at official online stores or resellers and start securing your Windows 10 PC.
Sophos Home: Sophos is a popular name for protecting companies from malware threats, but now it has a home version. Individual users can get the award-winning features of Sophos that companies use and apply them on their home PC. Sophos Home scans, detects, and cleans your computer from malware so it won’t slow down, steal data, or damage it. Furthermore, it blocks future threats and permits safe online shopping, browsing, and banking.
Password Manager and Two-factor Authentication
Using complicated passwords to protect your accounts is crucial. But, it is difficult to remember all passwords. Password Managers can help secure all passwords, credit card numbers, and usernames. It stores all your valuable information and can automatically fill out your login credentials.
Meanwhile, two-factor authentication (2-FA) provides an extra layer of security to your accounts. When you sign in to an account with activated 2-FA, it will provide a code via email or SMS or ask for biometric confirmation.
Free and paid password managers:
Lastpass: It is the best free password manager software. Its free features are almost similar to its paid version, unlike other free password managers that are limited. It provides a secure vault to store and manage its content anytime, allow access on any device, auto-fill passwords, suggest strong passwords, and permits one-on-one sharing.
Dashlane: When it comes to the best-paid version, Dashlane tops the list of most reviews online. It comes with unlimited password storage, dark web monitoring, free VPN, unlimited password sharing, and Secure Notes sharing.
Avoid Clicking on Links
One of many ways devices get infected with malware is by clicking on links from an unknown source or downloading unsecured files. This technique of baiting people to click on links is known as Spear Phishing. Hackers often use this technique to steal personal information and login credentials.
A Phishing technique uses an email or text asking the user to log in to their accounts urgently. Once the victim clicks on the link, they are redirected to a site that looks credible. However, it allows the hacker to spy on any information you input on the site.
Phishing is one of the major causes of data and financial loss for individuals and organizations. In 2019, about 88% of organizations worldwide experienced phishing attempts, and most of them were from emails.
So, to avoid becoming a victim of phishing attacks, remember to avoid clicking on links sent to you via email or text. Also, avoid downloading files online. If you want to be safe, you can download an antivirus application, like the one mentioned above, as they come with anti-phishing features.
A firewall is a security device that can either be a software or hardware. Its purpose is to filter the traffic that goes in and out of the network. In addition, it locks any suspicious traffic that wants to gain unauthorized access to your computer. Firewalls can block software or files containing malware.
Microsoft has incorporated a firewall on its latest Windows operating system, where you can activate it to make sure that it’s working and getting updates as needed. Or you can opt for hardware or a physical firewall. But it is best to use both software and hardware firewalls.
With the proper security software and online habits, you can protect your Windows 10 PC from threats. Using both the built-in security programs of Windows and third-party applications will keep your Windows 10 safe from threats and protect your data from being compromised.