10 Windows 10 Basic Security Do’s

By Woody Leonhard

You don’t need to buy an antivirus, firewall, or anti-everything product. Windows 10 has all you need to keep your computer secure. It’s already installed and working, and it doesn’t cost a penny. Here are the ten most important things you need to do, to keep your computer secure:

  • Check daily to make sure Windows Defender is running. If something’s amiss, a red “X” appears on the Action Center flag, down in the desktop’s notification area, near the time. To check Defender’s status, click in the Search box (that’s Cortana’s hiding place) to the right of the Start button, type def, and choose Windows Defender. If Defender’s running, a green check mark appears, as shown.

    Windows Defender is up and running.

    Windows Defender is up and running.

    Actually, Windows should tell you if Defender stops, either via a toaster notification from the right side or a red X on the flag in the lower-right corner of the desktop. But if you want to be absolutely sure, there’s no better way than to check it yourself. Only takes a second.

  • Don’t use just any old browser. Edge is infinitely better than Internet Explorer, when it comes to security exposures, but Chrome has superior Java and Flash support built-in. You can use Firefox, but use it with NoScript or a similar Java and Flash blocker installed and working. That said, Edge is getting better quickly.

    Most Windows infections come in the door through Java, Flash, or Adobe Reader, and they usually get in through Internet Explorer.

  • Use anything other than Adobe Reader to look at PDF files. All the major browsers have their own PDF readers, just because Adobe Reader has caused so many infections. For a standalone reader, download and install an alternative to Adobe Reader.

  • Every month or so, run Windows Defender Offline. WDO scans for rootkits.

  • Every month or so, run Malwarebytes. The Malwarebytes program gives you a second opinion, possibly pointing out questionable programs that Windows Defender doesn’t flag.

  • Delete chain mail.

    Do everyone a favor and don’t forward junk. Please. If something you receive in an email sounds really, really cool, it’s probably fake — an urban legend or a come-on of some sort. Look it up.

  • Keep up to date with Windows patches and (especially) patches to other programs running on your computer. Windows 10 should be keeping itself updated. For help keeping your other programs updated, use Secunia Personal Software Inspector.

  • Check your credit cards and bank balances regularly.

  • If you don’t need a program any more, get rid of it. Use the Windows Uninstaller. If it doesn’t blast away easily, use Revo Uninstaller.

  • Change your passwords regularly. Yeah, another one of those things everybody recommends, but nobody does. Except you really should.