While connecting to the Internet, sharing your computer or your files with other persons, you should always try protecting your computer from harmful agents. Why wouldthis be necessary? This is because there are many criminals of the virtual world, also named hackers, who frequently attack other computers. They can attack directly and steal personal information through the Internet, or can attack indirectly, by using malicious software which can harm your computer.

You can always protect yourself by means of some simple precautions. The following paragraphs describe the threats your computer could be subject to and what can be done to eliminate them.

Defend your computer against threats

There are a few ways to help protecting your computer against eventual security threats:

  • A firewall will help you protect the computer by stopping the access of hackers or harmful software.
  • Antivirus software protects your computer against worms, viruses, and any other security menaces.
  • Antispyware software provides protection against spyware and potentially unwanted software.
  • Windows can routinely search for updates needed by your computer and can install them automatically.

Action Center can manage your computer’s security settings

Action Center is the central location to monitor and manage firewall settings, anti-malware software settings, WindowsUpdate, Internet security, and settings for User Account Control. It also monitors the settings for computer maintenance and can provide links to troubleshooters as well as other tools to help fix problems.

Protect your computer with a firewall

The firewall is a software or hardware component able to check information that comes from a network or from the Internet to either turn it away or to allow it to be used by your computer. Its action depends on the firewall settings. This way, the firewall can prevent hackers or harmful software from getting access to the computer. The Firewall component of Windows is a built-in element of the operating system and is automatically turned on.

Virus protection is a must

Viruses, Trojan horses, and worms are hackers created to infect vulnerable Internet-connected computers. Worms and viruses have the ability of replicating themselves from one computer to another. Trojan horses can enter a computer and hide inside a seemingly legitimate program. A screen saver is a good example of such a program. Viruses, Trojan horses, and worms can even erase information from the hard disk or disable your computer. Those who do not cause such a direct damage will surely worsen the performance and stability of your computer.

If you do not use antivirus software, your computer can be exposed to damage coming from malicious software. There is also the risk of spreading malicious software to other computers.

Do not let spyware invade your computer

Spyware is software designed to display advertisements on your computer, collect personal information, or even change your computer’s settings without your consent! Installation of unwanted toolbars, favorites or links in your browser, the change of the default home page of your browser or pop-up ads displayed frequently is signs of a spyware infection. Some spyware does not display any detectable symptoms, but can secretly collect sensitive information such as websites you have visited or text you have typed. Most of the spyware is installed when you are downloading free software or simply visiting websites.

Automatically update Windows

Microsoft offers regular updates to its operating system that help protect computers against viruses and security threats. To receive the updates as promptly as possible, you have to turn on the automatic updating. This way, you never have to worry about critical fixes that might not be installed on your computer.

Windows updates are always downloaded in the background when are connected to the Internet. They are installed at any time you can specify. If the computer is turned off before the specified time of the day, updates can be installed before shutting down or the next time your computer is started.