Improve Your New Computer’s Security

Did you receive a new computer this holiday season? It’s important to properly configure your home computer before connecting it to the internet to keep it, and your information, secure. Because we input and view so much personally identifiable information on computers, it’s very important to maintain computer security.

The following are important tips that can help to make your computer more secure. When used together, these practices will strengthen your computer’s security and help minimize threats:

  • Secure your router. When you connect a computer to the internet, it’s also connected to millions of other computers — a connection that could allow attackers access to your computer. Be sure to secure it before you connect to the internet to strengthen your computer’s security.
  • Enable and configure your firewall. A firewall is a device that controls the flow of information between your computer and the internet. Most modern operating systems include a software firewall. The majority of home routers also have a built-in firewall. Refer to your router’s user guide for instructions on how to enable your firewall and configure the security settings. Set a strong password to protect your firewall against unwanted changes.
  • Install and use antivirus software. Installing an antivirus software program and keeping it up-to-date is a critical step in protecting your computer. Many types of antivirus software can detect the presence of malware by searching for patterns in your computer’s files or memory. Be sure to keep your antivirus software updated.
  • Remove unnecessary software. Intruders can attack your computer by exploiting software vulnerabilities, so the fewer software programs you have installed, the fewer avenues there are for potential attack. 
  • Modify unnecessary default features. Deleting unnecessary default features reduces attackers’ opportunities. Review the features that are enabled by default on your computer, and disable or customize those you don’t need or don’t plan on using. As with removing unnecessary software, be sure to research features before modifying or disabling them.
  • Operate under the principle of least privilege. In most instances of malware infection, the malware can operate only using the privileges of the logged-in user. To minimize the impact of a malware infection, consider using a standard or restricted user account for day-to-day activities. 
  • Secure your web browser. When you first install a web browser on a new computer, it will not usually have secure settings by default, you will need to adjust your browser’s security settings manually. Securing your browser is another critical step in improving your computer’s security by reducing attacks that take advantage of unsecured web browsers.
  • Apply software updates and enable automatic updates. Most software vendors release updates to patch or fix vulnerabilities, flaws, and weaknesses (bugs) in their software. Intruders can exploit these vulnerabilities to attack your computer. Keeping your software updated helps prevent these types of infections. Enable automatic updates if they are offered; doing so will ensure your software is always updated, and you won’t have to remember to do it yourself.

For more information about how you can protect yourself visit SEFCU’s Security Section.