Beyond AVs, What YOU Can Do to Keep Your PC Safe

“Defense in depth” is a concept in malware protection that enhances PC security by relying on many different strategies. A great deal of the defense is naturally embedded in your PC’s antivirus software, but much of it relies on other aspects of PC use, including your own computing habits. Good PC hygiene requires more than just installing a reputable AV solution; it also means taking a proactive part in maintenance as well as developing sensible browsing habits.

Here are a few tips for users wishing to establish healthy personal computing habits, along with easy-to-use tool recommendations within System Mechanic® that will help you largely automate many regular necessary maintenance actions.

To play effective defense in depth against cyberattacks, several approaches should be applied together.

1. Don’t install any software that “invited itself.”

If a pop-up message, email or other onscreen communique presents an installation or download offer to you without your having gone looking specifically for that piece of software, it is probably malicious. Malware often works by persuading the user to take some action—“Click here to fix the dangerous problems we found!”—that they otherwise wouldn’t even know they “needed” to take.

Main culprits

Custom browser plug-ins, virus scanning software, and special players to view decoy videos all fall into this category if they have popped up out of nowhere and seem to require you to either accept or fully retreat from the page. Only install scanners, plug-ins or media players if you went looking for them—either because you searched for them and clicked, or because an embedded offer on a reputable site that you have navigated to has caught your eye.

Similarly, never respond to emails purporting to be from online accounts you hold, such as social media sites, banks, creditors and even your preferred email client itself. These emails are almost certainly phishing for your personal information. Visit the site from its trusted official website URL, not by clicking on an in-email link.

2. Update software you DID install.

Each program you install on your PC needs to be kept up-to-date. This goes not only for your AV software, of course, but for all applications, including Flash Player, QuickTime, Adobe Reader, Java and other very popular programs that hackers deem especially worthy of attack.

Popular apps

Large numbers of hackers are constantly scrutinizing these apps looking for new ways to break in, due to their widespread use, but also due to the very fact that these apps get so much attention from cybercriminals. This in and of itself leads to the frequent barrage of new security patches and other important updates that users, increasingly numb to the onslaught, soon find all too easy to ignore. Look out for and act upon these update alerts to keep your programs as safe from attack as possible.

Windows flaws

Apart from individual installed software, Microsoft issues updates to patch security flaws at the OS level. However, it isn’t always feasible to install every lengthy Windows update right as the warning box appears. System Mechanic from iolo technologies is an optimization solution that can help keep your OS secure with a tool called Security Optimizer, which finds and repairs Windows security flaws by searching for updates and patching any holes it finds. It’s a good idea to run this tool regularly in addition to installing regular updates from Windows for true defense in depth.

Outdated drivers

In addition to causing system slowdown and other problems, hardware drivers can present another security vulnerability if they are not kept up-to-date. Designated Drivers is a tool within System Mechanic designed to recognize and update at the touch of a button multiple hardware drivers, as well as blacklist ones outdated in OS versions all the way through Windows 10.

3. Remove unneeded apps ASAP

Finally, periodically take stock of which software gets the most use and which you rarely if ever open, and remove the latter. Too many different apps of the same type can confuse your operating system, causing crashes and slowdown.

Danger beyond slowdown

In this way, over time, dozens of installed programs and add-ons take their toll on your machine’s performance, but the trouble doesn’t end there: when seldom used, they’re seldom updated to effectively protect against malware attacks.

How many media players do you actually use? As a Chrome user are you done forever with Firefox? A handy tool within System Mechanic to make the purge easier is CRUDD Remover, which automatically locates system-clogging—or dangerous—redundant programs and uninstalls them upon request.

Check back here frequently for more tips on keeping your PC safe, clutter-free and at top speed.

iolo UptoSpeed

UpToSpeed™ is iolo's ongoing article series written by PC experts for everyday computer users. Each article is packed with easy tips and practical advice on the latest issues affecting computers to help you get the most out of your PC.

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Beyond AVs, What YOU Can Do to Keep Your PC Safe