These top tips provide the most fundamental and effective methods for protecting your devices from outside threats.
Patch and Update
Set up your computer for automatic software and operating system updates. Unpatched devices are more likely to fall victim to viruses and other exploits.
Install Protective Software
Keep the bad guys away by installing protective software. Such software should be set to scan your files and update your virus definitions on a routine basis. Popular software includes McAfee Antivirus, and Norton Antivirus. Free software choices are also widely available, for example Microsoft Security Essentials (available for Microsoft Windows Vista and 7 operating systems), Avira Free Antivirus, and AVG AntiVirus Free.
Use Strong Passwords and Change Them Often
Choose strong passwords with a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters to create a mental image or an acronym that is easy for you to remember. Create a different password for each important account; and change passwords regularly to keep them fresh and less susceptible to thieves.
Use Built-in Password/Lock Screens
Not using these features make it too easy for would-be thieves to access your private information on your mobile devices.
Backup Your Stuff!
You should backup your personal or critical files on a regular basis. This means copying your files over to a protect box posted system that you can access when those files are needed, such as a password protected flash drive, external hard drive, or online storage solution.
Control Access to Your Devices
Don't leave your devices unattended and logged on in an unsecured area, particularly in public places.
Safely Use Email and the Internet
Ignore mysterious emails and attachments and links within emails that come from people you don't know. Be very careful about untrustworthy (often free) downloads from freeware or shareware sites.
Be very careful and aware when downloading any files from the Internet. Adware, malware and viruses can sometimes be embedded in files, such as in software applications, music, video and other files, particularly if they're free. As a general rule, only download items from the internet if they are from a trusted source, and be very diligent going through the download process, as this may often involve granting permission to include add-ons that you may not want. Read everything, particularly if they have checkboxes.
Protect Sensitive Data
Reduce your risk of identity theft by removing sensitive data files saved on your computer, and if you need to keep sensitive data on your computer, use encryption tools built into your operating system. It is also recommended to remove sensitive data when recycling or repurposing your computer.
Use Parental Control Features on Personal Devices
Most devices have features that allow you to create separate user profiles, such as for younger children, where you can adjust settings such as time limits, restrict certain types of websites, and allow or restrict certain programs from running.