Every internet user knows that the internet has the potential to put you at risk of being hacked. That’s why everyone should have some useful tips and tricks to safeguard them from these threats. While no single method is 100% fail-proof, using a mix of the 6 steps I outline below will help you stay keep your Windows PC as safe as possible.
How to Protect You Windows PC from Hackers – 5 Easy Steps
Much to the shock of many Windows users, it doesn’t take much for you to protect your system from hackers and malware. In fact, most of the steps I’ll be mentioning below are very straightforward. However, they are overlooked by a lot of Windows PC users. To give your system the highest levels of protection you can, follow these 6 steps:
1. Get a VPN
Short for Virtual Private Network, a VPN is a great cybersecurity tool that you definitely need to be using. VPNs encrypt your data and re-route your traffic through a safe and secure connection. The great thing is that VPNs use their own servers to establish that connection. This means that (1) your traffic and data cannot be accessed by third-parties and (2) your public IP changes to match the server location.
When you’re in the market for a VPN to keep you secure, private, and anonymous online, be sure to look out for a few points:
- Do not use a free VPN service. Most free software online is riddled with malware, and VPNs are no exception. Free VPNs are also notoriously anti-privacy, as most do keep data logs to sell to advertisers and third-parties.
- Get a subscription with a credible and trusted VPN. I have personally been using ExpressVPN for a while now. Make sure to check out our list of top recommended VPNs for Windows PC.
2. Update Windows 10
Microsoft released Windows 10 in 2015. Since then, there have been many updates geared at improving performance, productivity, and security. If you’re still running the older version of Windows 10, you’re putting yourself at risk of being vulnerable to all new malware and hacks in the past 3+ years.
In general, you really should be keeping all of your devices up to date with the latest OS updates. This way, you’ll know that all of your devices are up-to-date with the latest security settings.
3. Turn on Windows Defender
Windows actually has a very good built-in anti-malware and anti-virus program called Windows Defender. What I have noticed is that many people think that Windows Defender isn’t as reliable as other anti-malware programs. This isn’t true. If your Windows PC is up-to-date, Windows Defender is more than capable of protecting you and your PC from hacks and attacks.
You can add to the protection you get from Windows Defender by using another anti-malware program with it. This will give you an advantage, as anti-malware programs don’t catch all of the available malware. Another anti-malware program can help you cover whatever Windows Defender can’t. As always, if you’re downloading software from the internet, you should only do so from a trusted website.
4. Turn on the Firewall
Same as with Windows Defender, Windows PCs actually come with a pretty good built-in Firewall. A Firewall is a great line of defense against hackers and attacks. Usually, your Windows PC will have the Firewall turned on as default. You should still make sure that the setting is on for all of your network connections. To do that, you should:
- Go to the Windows Defender Security Center. You can find this in your PC’s Control Panel.
- Click on Firewall & Network Protection.
- Make sure that the Firewall is Turned On for all connections.
5. Be an Informed User
One of the best and most overlooked security measures you can take is becoming an informed user. You need to understand what actions increase your risk of falling victim to a hack. We have a repository of information that can help you understand what you need to be doing to stay safe online. Here’s a quick overview:
- Be Warry of Downloads: Do not download applications or software from an unknown source. Always make sure that you’re using trusted and credible websites.
- Only Connect to Trusted WiFi Spots: Try to steer clear from public network connections unless you’ve implemented tip #1 (without a VPN, public WiFi is a hotbed for potential attacks and hacks).
- Pick Better Apps: Make sure you only give permission to apps that have been validated by Google. Also, you should be wary about accepting all of the permission requests an app makes. If you notice that the app is asking for something it shouldn’t really need, then you probably don’t want to be using that app. For example, say you’re downloading a map-based app and it asks for permission to access your microphone. This should be a red flag for you since maps shouldn’t use microphones, right?
6. Question Links You Don’t Know
A lot of the times, a user will have all of their privacy and security settings on point but still manage to get hacked. The thing is, one of the most used malware delivery systems is a simple clickable link. You will usually encounter these links in 2 places:
- Via Email: Spam emails, or even emails from friends who themselves have been hacked, are very dangerous. As a rule of thumb, if you see a link in your email that you can’t really recognize, do not click it. If it’s an email from a friend of yours, it’s better to contact that friend and ask about the link before testing it out.
- Via Websites: A lot of websites, especially illegal downloading websites, are filled with malware delivering links and ads. You should be careful if you’re browsing sites like this, do not download or click on anything you’re not sure of. Generally, it’s better to stay as far away as possible from sites like this.
- Via Social Media: Emails aren’t the only thing that gets hacked. Ever since the rise of social media, hackers have been posting seemingly harmless posts that include malware delivering links on the accounts of people they’ve hacked. Same as with the email and the websites, do not click on links you aren’t sure of.
How to Protect your Windows PC from Hackers – Final Thoughts
If you follow these steps and make sure that you know what you’re downloading on your Windows PC at all times, congrats! This way, you do all you can to add to your PC’s security. Do remember, though, that not everything works 100% of the time.
Malware constantly changes and adapts to fit the needs of the hackers that use it. These steps will definitely make it a lot more difficult to hack into your Windows PC, however, nothing is infallible. This is why step #5 is very important, it means that you are actively trying to minimize the threats that could affect you and your system. Let me know in the comments if there’s anything I missed: What do you do to stay protected on your Windows PC?