Top 10 List: Top 10 Ways to Protect Your Windows PC

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A frustrated happy face using a computerMost people want to keep their computers running problem-free, but many do not know how to do so. I thought it might be handy to create this Top 10 list to help you out a bit. This isn’t a complete list, but if you follow these 10 pieces of advice, you will be a lot better off than most people. For more detailed information and a handy checklist for keeping your computer in top-notch condition, download the free Maintenance Schedule from http://www.llogro.com/go/tools

Only about half of the list is actually stuff you need to do to the computer. The other half is a combination of attitudes and practices you should adopt to keep your computer and your personal information personal.

  1. Visit http://update.microsoft.com/ monthly, especially around the 2nd Wednesday
  2. Make sure your anti-virus and anti-spyware are installed, updated, and working
  3. Backup everything you can’t replace or that would cost too much to replace
  4. Do not let kids surf without at least casual supervision; filtering tools help but are not perfect
  5. Phishing attacks (pretending to be someone you trust to get info) have spread to the telephone
  6. Never give out personal information unless you initiate the process
  7. Good passwords mix upper and lower case letters with numbers and even punctuation
  8. Use AT LEAST two different passwords: one for private sites (like banks) and another for elsewhere
  9. Scan hard disks for errors and defragment them regularly (every 3-6 months or so)
  10. Keep the computer clean and cool, wash your hands, and don’t eat at the computer

Expanding on four key points:
#1 – The 2nd Tuesday of each month is “Patch Tuesday” at Microsoft. The majority of security updates are released on that day.
#2 – Most anti-virus software and some anti-spyware programs offer subscriptions to keep the programs up-to-date. If your subscription lapsed, you could be vulnerable. Some viruses are able to disable the anti-virus software, so remember to check occasionally that it is still running.
#4 – Filtering software for kids helps, but sooner or later inappropriate things will slip through. It’s best if a parent is around to discuss with the child what he or she saw, and help them to come to an understanding about such things.
#5 – Phishing attacks have moved to the telephone using VOIP telephony. This allows phishers in one country to appear to be local to you and even have caller ID report information that appears legitimate. E-mail has been prone to phishing attacks for some time. More targeted “spear phishing” attacks focus on specific, related targets. The best advice is never to trust or give personal information to anyone that contacts you, even if it appears to be someone you know. Always initiate the contact (call your bank or co-worker) and confirm that they need the information. Do not call phone numbers from e-mails or given to you by callers; it could be one of their cohorts pretending to be your bank or whatever.

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