5 Ways to Protect Your Personal Computer from Spyware and Adware
- Install a Firewall
- Run Antivirus Software
- Install Anti-spyware Software
- Use Complex Pass Phrases
- Verify the Browser’s Security Settings
No matter what type of computer you have, you need to protect it from spyware and adware. These malicious types of programs can penetrate your data and files without you realizing it, resulting in the theft of your confidential information and the potential for identity theft and other serious problems. Follow these five steps to protect your personal computer from spyware and adware.
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1. Install a Firewall
A firewall is the first line of defense. It blocks nefarious people from entering or using your computer. The firewall stops communications to and from sources that you do not specifically permit. Some computer operating systems have one built in, as do some internet service providers. You need to verify that your firewall is working.
2. Run Antivirus Software
Antivirus software regularly scans all of your computer’s files and checks for viruses. Your internet service provider may offer it as a part of your package. You can also pay for your own antivirus software. A computer virus could send emails from your computer, collect your passwords and infect your files. Antivirus software has regular updates in order to keep up with all the newest viruses and computer bugs, so make sure that yours has the latest updates from the company. Also, take the time to keep your operating system up-to-date. Microsoft Windows and Mac OS can be set to automatically download updates.
3. Install Anti-spyware Software
According to the State of California Department of Justice Office of the Attorney General, you should use anti-spyware software on your computer. Some antivirus packages include it, but not all of them do. Spyware can slow your computer’s performance, take you to sites you did not want to go to and show you a bunch of ads. It can also harvest your information. Take care in any downloads that you permit your computer to perform. Only download apps and files from trustworthy sources such as Google Play or the iTunes store.
4. Use Complex Pass Phrases
Be sure to use complex passphrases for all of your accounts that require a login. When possible, use two-factor authentication for additional security. The password “password” or “ABC123” and other simple passwords and phrases are easily guessed. Do not use meaningful passwords or phrases such as your name, child’s name, spouse’s name, address or mother’s maiden name. These are also easily guessed by hackers who could already have some of your information.
5. Verify the Browser’s Security Settings
Another way to protect your personal computer from spyware and adware is to verify your internet browser’s security settings. Internet Explorer, Edge, Bing, Chrome and Firefox all have security settings that you can customize. You should make sure that your browser’s security settings include downloading automatic updates that reduce the risk of intrusive software. Allow the browser to block malicious sites. Some browsers will display a big warning instead of automatically taking you to a site that may have spyware, adware or other malware waiting to infect your personal computer.
These five steps for protecting your personal computer from spyware and adware are just the beginning of staying safe online. Remember to avoid opening suspicious emails and attachments and take care with what you share on social media. Each of these five methods of protecting your personal computer from spyware and adware work best when used together.