How can you protect your computer against the many viruses, ransomware, and phishing threats these days? Are traditional antivirus programs still a good option? Let’s clear up a few cybersecurity concepts and look at four solutions that each take your protection up a notch.
Warning: Before going any further, uninstall any old antivirus program that is no longer supported. See how to uninstall the Videotron Security Service antivirus.
1. Activate Internet service security features
Some Internet service providers offer built-in protection for your equipment. Helix Internet offers an Advanced Security feature that protects you from malicious websites and sends you a notification when it intercepts a threat. This should be your first line of defence for protecting your devices.
2. Keep your operating systems up to date
Both PC and Mac computers come with fairly effective protection. And you don’t have to pay extra to use it!
If you have Windows 7 or later, your computer is protected by Microsoft Defender. According to some analysts, this solution is just as good as—or even better than—the paid cybersecurity software available on the market.
Apple computers do not have a built-in antivirus, but they are protected by embedded features in the macOS operating system. Macs have long enjoyed a reputation as highly secure computers, but in recent years the number of cyber threats against them has increased.
Whether you have a PC or a Mac, our basic advice is the same: make all the operating system updates your computer suggests. Otherwise, the bad guys can exploit a loophole you haven’t closed up.
3. Get a protection suite tailored to your needs
First of all, let’s be clear: the term “antivirus” is now out of date because it’s too limited. In the 1990s and 2000s, the main threats did come from computer viruses—malicious programs that replicate themselves and run automatically after a triggering event. Over time, the threats have become more diverse. That is why we now talk about “cybersecurity software” rather than “antivirus software.”
The solutions on the market are complete suites that protect your computer against different types of nuisances. They may include:
- A firewall
- Parental controls
- A password manager
- An anti-theft feature to recover any stolen devices
- Protection for social media
- A feature to protect the connected devices in your home
- Data encryption
- Web browser monitoring and URL filtering
- A virtual keyboard for secure banking transactions
- Spam and phishing filters
- Scanning of USB keys and external hard drives connected to the computer
This goes well beyond virus protection!
These security suites are sold as annual subscriptions. The best way to find the one that’s right for you is to determine your needs. You don’t have to buy the Cadillac of software if all you do is browse recognized sites and check your email, for example. In addition, some extensive protection suites can slow down your computer, so it’s important to check the required specifications.
Beware of free antivirus software!
There’s no way around it: when something is free, there’s often a catch. Free antivirus software offers insufficient protection that is already embedded into your operating system. Plus, the companies offering free programs can use them to collect your data and sell it to third parties (the company that owns Avast got nabbed in 2020 for doing just that).
4. Encrypt your data with a VPN
To secure your computer when using a public Wi-Fi network, get a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN encrypts your data so an attacker with access to the same Wi-Fi network can’t read it. This type of protection isn’t necessary in everyday life, but if you frequently work in coffee shops or use your devices a lot while travelling, it may be wise to get one. Note that a VPN does not protect against malware (viruses and such).
What does the future hold?
Solutions for securing a computer are evolving rapidly thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Can we envision a future without antiviruses, where AI detects threats almost instantaneously? Many companies are working on this. In the meantime, the best way to secure your computer is to stay vigilant. Despite the advances in machine technology, human judgment is still a strong shield against computer threats. Staying alert and informed is a great way to protect yourself!