It does not matter if you use your computer intensely, just for email, or just for playing Solitaire or playing American roulette games, computer security is important regardless of how often you use your computer. There is a wide range of threats to consider, from hackers and malicious attacks to physically having your computer stolen.

Fortunately, there are several things that you can do to make sure that your computer is not compromised. These measures are going to go a long way towards protecting your computer. While no solution is always going to eliminate each threat, you want to take these steps and ensure that someone cannot hack into your system. Let’s start with a number of simple steps to take.

Have a firewall in place

A firewall acts as a barrier between the internet and your computer/network. It shuts down a number of ports that would otherwise communicate with your device. This can prevent data from being uploaded from your computer. If you have Windows 10, your computer uses a firewall by default. If you do not like the Windows Firewall or want more protection, you have the option to download another firewall software package or even go a step further and buy a hardware firewall.

Use a VPN

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is going to be a great way to beef up your computer security, especially if you are busy browsing online. A VPN will encrypt your internet traffic and make it flow through an intermediary server. This means that people are unable to find your IP address, meaning that they are unable to identify you.

Encrypt your data

It does not matter if you have sensitive information on your computer that relates to work, or if you just don’t want to lose pictures of your children, you want to protect your own information. If you want to make sure that information does not fall into the wrong hands, encrypting it would be one of the best ways to do so. This means that additional resources are needed to decrypt the file, which often takes longer and means that hackers will simply look elsewhere. Two of the more popular tools to help you do so are BitLocker and VeraCrypt.

Install antivirus and anti-spyware software

If you have a computer that is connected to the internet, it is going to be vulnerable to threats such as viruses, Trojan horses, ransomware, or malware. Even though antivirus is by no means foolproof, it is certainly going to help. There are several free options available, but most people prefer the commercial options such as Bitdefender.

Adjust your browser settings

If you are concerned about how much information you are sharing, your browser settings are a great way to adjust the level of security and privacy while being online. This can reduce the risk of malicious hackers trying to find a way into your device or malware infections reaching your computer. It also means that companies are unable to track you.

Make sure that you keep your computer and software updated

Even though many of us are often annoyed when we see another security update or a software update, they are crucial to our online safety. Not only do they often add extra features (which may be nice, but not necessary), they also fix existing security holes. Oftentimes there are new vulnerabilities that may offer a hacker the opportunity to compromise a program or your entire system.

It is important to let these updates run during a time that is convenient for you because that way you are not going to simply tell them “not now” and then forget about it for another week.

Protection matters

Regardless of what type of files you have on your computer or what your internet surfing habits are, you do not want to have snoopers or criminals on your computer. While nothing is ever fully secure online, the aforementioned steps will go a long way towards safeguarding your data.