Windows is the most popular operating system of all times, and for a good reason! It works well for most people’s needs, whether that’s entertainment or work. However, there are a few issues present in Windows, the biggest issue being security.
The average Windows PC contains 14 vulnerabilities that hackers know of and can exploit if they so desire. And while Microsoft works quickly to patch known exploits, Windows users need to do everything they can to secure their devices.
So what risks do Windows users face? Knowing those risks, how can they protect themselves?
Online Threats Facing PCs
Let’s start by talking about malware, short for “malicious software.” As you might’ve guessed from the name, malware is any software that is designed for malicious purposes. For example, adware forces ads to pop up on the victim’s machines without permission. Ransomware, on the other hand, encrypts the victim’s data and demands a ransom to be paid in exchange for the “decryption key.”
Malware can come from anywhere, from a sketchy program to a hijacked website. Users need to be careful about what they do online, what they download, and where they go, because once malware infects a PC, it’s hard to detect it (without the proper tools).
Scammers have haunted the Internet since its inception, and phishing scams are as common as ever. What are phishing scams? To keep it simple, phishing scams are scams that attempt to manipulate users into giving away private information. A good example of a phishing scam in action is a user clicking on a pop-up claiming that they won a free gift card, then filling out the “survey” in hopes of redeeming the reward.
Billions of phishing emails are sent out every day, and your spam folder is probably filled with them. Avoid these emails, and beware of any pop-up or window that promises you free rewards.
Known vulnerabilities within Windows can be used to access a user’s PC without permission. If that happens, the hackers responsible can do whatever with that PC, whether it’s stealing data or integrating it within a botnet.
No PC is invulnerable to hackers. Remember, all it takes is one vulnerability to expose your PC to any skilled hacker.
Ways You Can Protect Your PC
1. Install a VPN
The first thing you should do to secure your PC is to install a VPN for Windows PC. A VPN, also known as a virtual private network, encrypts the data your PC sends out and receives over a network. VPNs also anonymize your device’s presence on networks and hide its IP address.
A reputable VPN can strengthen your device security, especially if you share your network with other people or use public networks often.
2. Encrypt Data With BitLocker
Windows added BitLocker during the Windows Vista era, and since then, it has been packaged with every version of the OS. But what is BitLocker, and why should you use it?
BitLocker is a data encryption tool. With it enabled, users can encrypt all of their data stored on their hard drive(s). It’s easy-to-use, and it doesn’t affect performance—there’s no reason not to use it.
3. Keep Remote Access Disabled
Microsoft offers a way for people to connect remotely to other PCs, a feature they call Remote Desktop. There are cases where remote access can be beneficial, such as when tech support needs to connect to your PC to evaluate the issue you’re having.
However, the majority of users can get by just fine without Remote Desktop or any remote access tools. As a result, users should disable remote access on their PC. The reason why is because hackers can take advantage of remote access to take control of a user’s device.
4. Update Windows Frequently
There will always be new vulnerabilities to fix and newly-discovered exploits to patch. Microsoft publishes Windows updates at a rapid pace because it knows how important these updates are to the security of its users. Unfortunately, many users choose to ignore Windows updates, which only hurts them. Yes, they can be inconvenient, but they are essential to securing your PC, so make sure you grab the latest Windows update as soon as it is released.
While Windows machines are vulnerable to a lot of online threats, users can defend themselves with just a few tools. From updating Windows frequently to disabling remote access, there are tons of things that you can do to protect your device.