Internet connected computers are prone to many malicious threats. Even if you are not hooked online, there are good chances, your pc may get infected with a wide variety of ways. PC infection can cost very dearly sometimes. You may lose important files, emails, software or any other important data, be it personal or official. While data loss costs dearly, the time consumed in restoring your computer to normalcy is also equally important. And, if you are not much computer literate, you may have to pay someone to help you recover data. Remember the following rules in mind and you’ll have fewer pc security problems than most.

Become PC Security Conscious

Are you pc security conscious? If you are not very much in to IT, you might not care about Firewalls, Security Patches, Critical updates, Data backup tools, Spyware and such technicalities. End users are usually unaware of the security threats that exist to their home computer or data. It is helpful if you are aware of what is running in your system & what type of threats exist to your data. Being aware of security threats will help you confidently thwart many security problems. As a security conscious user, you are not supposed to download and install software blindly, be victim of hoaxes and phishing emails, use weak passwords & panic when things go awry in your pc. Best pc security comes from being security conscious.

A proactive defence is always better. If you follow this rule, half of your computer security issues will perish before cropping up.

Keep tab of software installed in your computer
It is not wise to just install whatever you get your hands on. A software has a particular utility. Install software only when you need to use it. Majority of computer users have redundant software applications installed, needless to say a lot of them have no utility in particular for them. Uninstall anything that you have no use for. Free is not always free. Lot many of freeware programs come bundle with third party software, toolbars etc. Make sure you just don’t blindly install programs. Keep an eye on what you are installing and what is being installed as a part of the bundle. Select Custom installation options if need be. It’ll give you more control over installation.

Keep an updated anti-malware software working all the time
Ensure that your system is always running with an updated good quality antivirus & a robust antispyware software all the time. It doesn’t matter you are online or offline. There is no use if antivirus is installed and remains there unused without any virus definition updates. Your antimalware software will perform better if and only if it is regularly updated to keep up with latest threats. Also keep in mind that real time scanning is working and not disabled. Real time scanning will protect your computer against threats in the background automatically. To know what antivirus to get, read What makes a good antivirus better.

Have a firewall for internet connected pc
Forget the dilemma of static ip versus dynamic IP. Even if you are running dynamic IP, you need firewall. You have to have a good quality software or hardware installed if you are connected to internet. It will not only protect against hacking attempts but also help you spot trojans, spyware & prevent malicous software calling home. A firewall is no good if you are allowing everything to go through it or if your system is severely infected or hacked already. Still, get one to avoid future problems.

Keep an eye on File downloads
Internet is a vast repository of software, both good and bad. Make sure you download and install software with open eyes. Avoid fake or bogus files downloads. Don’t just click and download from an advertisement claiming that your system is infected with viruses and that you need their software to remove it. Banners cannot just detect viruses on your computer, and most certainly cannot detect those your antivirus has even failed to detect! Download files and software only from trusted sources.

Keep your Operating system & software patched
Just as your anti-malware tools need product and definition updates, your operating system also needs to be patched up regularly though critical updates to fill security holes and to prevent exploits. Not only operating system, other piece of software are also vulnerable to attacks and exploits. Vulnerabilities arise in both Linux & Windows. So, don’t run into illusion that if you are running linux, you are impenetrable, although you’d be a little more secure than your windows buddy. Make a habit of downloading and installing all the necessary and critical updates for your Windows or Linux based machines. Run windows update once in a fortnight or month on your MS-Windows based systems. Similarly, on linux machines there are linux distro specific update checking utilities that automatically download, install and fix bugs from online repositories.

Not all email attachments need clicking
Ok, everyone talks about email attachments and how dangerous they are if you are not watchful. They are one of the primary causes of hacked systems, spam emails, zombie machines and mass spreading of virus and worms.  Don’t just download seemingly suspicious attachment just because it’s originated from someone you know. Open only those which you know have been sent by a trusted source and meant for you. Even then after downloading, it is advisable to scan them first for infections.

Backups always come handy
Backing up valuable information or data is important. You can’t just let your inherent optimism of “nothing will go wrong” ruin things here. I am an information security professional and my pc does get infected sometimes. If mine can, yours too can!
Remember resue disks created by antivirus programs. They are their way of backing up so atleast when being seriously outpowered by malware, they can at least keep their sanctity and operate from removable disk.

Take periodical back up of anything that matters to you in removable DVD drives, separate hard drives or on a different computer on your local network. Believe me, it’ll save you many headaches if something goes wrong with your pc.