New Computer? Here’s How to Set It Up Securely and Keep Hackers at Bay

If you’ve just purchased a new computer or are about to do so, it’s important to take steps to keep the device safe and secure. While physical protection is one side of this, in that you want to keep burglars out of your home and guard your belongings when you’re out and about, always consider digital security, too.

With so many hackers seeking to steal information and crash systems these days, it’s necessary to follow certain paths to keep these cybercriminals out of your tech gear and life.

Update Software ASAP

When you get your computer home from the shops, update the software that comes with it ASAP. While this might seem odd because the device is brand new, you don’t know how long it was sitting in a store or a factory. As such, the software may be an older version and therefore have more security gaps.

To keep your computer safe from hackers, run the latest versions of programs. Once you’ve checked for updates after purchase, continue to upload newer editions of software as they become available. Developers continually find gaps in security and plug them on their programs, so if you’re not using the newest offering, you could leave yourself at risk. Hackers are always on the lookout for holes to get through.

It’s wise to set everything to automatically update. That way, you won’t have to remember to manually check for new versions. If you’re not keen on this idea, at least allow alerts to pop up when updates arrive so you can make the necessary changes. Also, note that a wide variety of software will need updating. For example, upload the newest versions of browsers, operating systems, apps, games, plugins, and other programs.

Install Security Software

Another way to set up your computer properly and keep hackers at bay is to install security software. There are many free options on the market these days but it’s better to choose comprehensive antivirus software that will protect your device from numerous threats.

You’ll need to have software that mitigates the risk of being stung by attacks from viruses, spam, spyware, ransomware, and other malware. Select a product that also blocks potentially harmful emails and websites, and maintains your privacy online.

Quality programs also guard against identity theft, block phishing emails, and keep online data (like information you input on social media sites or banking websites) safe from cybercriminals. Plus, look for security software that helps to identify apps designed to steal data, gives you real-time alerts if your system is compromised, and generally assists to improve the performance of your computer.

Use a Firewall

A firewall is an additional security addition. Firewalls are handy because they provide another layer of protection to your network. They work to filter out potential hacker threats from credible, trustworthy incoming data. In particular, firewalls help to block hackers who may try to use an internet connection to get into your systems.

Thankfully, most computers already come with this extra protection built-in now, so you shouldn’t have to buy a firewall. Check the settings on your system, though, to be sure the firewall is actually activated. (Head to the Network Connections tab in the Control Panel to find it. This is where it’s located on most devices.) You may need to hit a button or two to get the firewall doing its job, so don’t assume it’s already completely set up.

Choose Secure Passwords

When setting up your computer, it’s also essential to password protect the machine. Choose secure passwords that hackers won’t be able to guess from reading your online information, particularly websites, email signatures, or social media posts.

A quality code is made up of a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols, and is at least eight characters. Change this password a few times per year and choose different codes for different logins (including across online accounts) so if one password becomes compromised, not everything will be vulnerable at once.

If you struggle to remember codes, keep in mind that there are helpful password managers available for free or low cost these days that you can utilize to keep everything together yet safe.

Setting up a new computer and ensuring it can’t be easily hacked by a determined cybercriminal is a bit of a process, but it’s also an essential one. Follow the steps listed above and you’ll make it much less likely that you ever have to deal with a digital break in.

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