Protect Your Computer - Information Security (2023)

There are three key steps that can help protect your computer from most common threats, regardless of the brand, model or operating system. Once you have completed the three key steps, there are some extra measures you can take to add even more security.

  1. Apply Patches
  2. Install and Update Antivirus Software
  3. Backup Your Computer and Data
  4. Go the Extra Mile

1. Apply Patches

The authors, developers, and vendors of your computer’s operating system (OS) and all the software you run frequently discover and fix security vulnerabilities and bugs that impact the functionality. Attackers will often ‘reverse engineer’ software patches to discover these bugs and learn how to compromise computers using that software. Therefore, it is very important to promptly install all patches and updates and narrow the window of time that your computer is vulnerable to these bugs. Make sure to periodically reboot your computer (rather than just closing the lid on a laptop to put it to sleep) to help it install and apply updates.

To start with,enable automatic updates for your operating system:

Next, update all of the applications you have installed. If you installed them from the operating system’s app store, you have one place to go, and you can configure your app store to automatically apply updates. For these reasons, and because the vendors usually have security and privacy standards for their app stores, it is preferable to install your apps from the app store rather than manually downloading and installing the applications. For any applications that you manually installed, you will need to consult the documentation for each app to learn how to check for updates. Usually there is a menu option to do so.It is good practice to check for application updates at least once per month.

UF-owned computers should be managed by UF IT staff, who are responsible for patching and updating your computer. If you notice that your UF-owned computer is not up to date, contact your IT support group.

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2. Install and Update Antivirus Software

Computer viruses are code that attacks your computer and frequently corrupt or delete your data, damage your computer, monitor (and do something nefarious with) your internet traffic, and even do especially sneaky things like steal your banking passwords and empty your accounts. Computer viruses usually have some mechanism to spread between computers, often taking advantage of vulnerabilities in software or operating systems, or pretending to be legitimate software so that you will choose to install it.

The nature of computer viruses is rapidly evolving, and many new viruses are released into the world every day by cyber-criminals. The good news is that modern operating systems are much more secure than even a few years ago, and include built-in protections against viruses. For example, Microsoft Windows includes a built-in feature called ‘Windows Defender’ or ‘Windows Security’, and Apple Mac includes a feature called ‘Gatekeeper’.

To be extra sure, you can install additional commercial or free antivirus software. There are too many vendors and products to make a strong recommendation, so do some research to find the best fit for you.To go the extra mile, see the section below on anti-malware software.

UF-owned computers should have UF-managed antivirus. Contact your IT Support for help with your UF installed antivirus software.

3. Backup Your Computer and Data

The reason you have a computer is because of your data – the files you work with, such as classwork, the novel you are working on, or your taxes. There are many ways your files could become unusable – from something as unpredictable as your computer dying, getting lost or stolen – to intentional corruption by attackers with Ransomware (software that encrypts all your files and asks for payment to let you get them back).

(Video) 4 Cybersecurity Tips to protect your computer

There are two kinds of backups you should do:

Keep Extra Copies of Your Data Files

Extra copies of your files stored separately from your computer can help you out in case you accidentally delete or overwrite an important file, just need quick access to a file when you don’t have your computer, or could even help you recover all of your data if something drastic happens. You could make copies of your data files (such as your ‘My Documents’ folder) onto an external drive for safekeeping, but an even better solution is touse a cloud-based file storage service. You install a small application which keeps a folder you select ‘in-sync’ with the cloud storage. If you use multiple computers or devices, they can keep your files in sync between all of these devices, so you see the same set of files on each. They also offer sharing support, so that you can share files with collaborators, family or associates. The other benefit is that these services usually store copies of files that you update, overwrite or delete, so that you can easily pull back an old copy of a file in case you need the older version. This can be a lifesaver in case you get infected withransomware! Because these files are synced to your computer, they will also get backed up in your computer backups (see below), providing an extra layer of protection.Just make sure you keep all of your important files in the cloud folder.

UF offers several options of cloud file storage at no cost for students, faculty and staff. Visit theGatorCloudsite for more information about these offerings.

When using cloud services with UF data, be sure to be aware of what data types you are storing in the cloud, and who you are sharing with. UF has very specific requirements. Refer to theUF Data Guidefor the cloud service and type of data you are using.

Backup your entire computer

A backup of your entire computer is very helpful in cases in which your computer becomes entirely unusable (such as a failure or it is stolen), or if all of your data files are damaged (such as byransomware). This will allow you to quickly recover your OS, your applications, configurations and settings, AND your data. Operating Systems have built-in utilities to backup to external drives. Buy an external drive that is 1.5-2x the size of your computer’s hard drive (or SSD) to allow space to keep multiple copies of files that change over time. Plug this drive in when you make a backup, and then store it somewhere safely. You can also rotate between two external drives, with one of them safely stored somewhere else, such as a relative’s house.

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Another option is to use a cloud backup service. You pay a small monthly fee, install the backup software, and it constantly backs up changed files to cloud storage. This is an excellent option, because the backups are stored far away from your computer – minimizing the chance that both your computer and backup will be affected – and the backups happen automatically in the background, so you don’t need to remember to run your backups or keep track of external drives. Look for a backup service that stores multiple versions of changed and deleted files. This way, if you only notice that a file is corrupt or missing sometime later, you can still recover it.

The Wirecutter review of cloud backup services

Additional information is available in the article from The Wirecutter onHow to Back Up Your Computer.

The most important part of any backup is to test it!Try to restore files from your external drive or cloud backup, and verify that everything works. You wouldn’t want to get a bad surprise when you need it most.

4. Go the Extra Mile

Once you’ve taken care of the three key steps, you can move on to more advanced steps that will add even greater security and privacy to your computing and online life.

(Video) Easy Steps to Protect Your Computer and Phone

Encrypt Your Hard Drive

If someone were to steal your laptop, portable drive, or other device, they have access to all of the data you have stored. This could include private, personal, or sometimes even embarrassing files. You can make it impossible for someone without your password to access your files by encrypting the entire drive. Both Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac support encrypting both the computer’s internal drive as well as external drives. Fortunately, this is easy to do and modern computers have been optimized for encryption so that it will have no noticeable performance impact. Be sure to select a strong password that is hard to guess, but easy for you to remember. It is also a good idea to enable the operating system’s password recovery feature, in which you can use an online service (Microsoft Account or iCloud) with extra security steps to recover your password.

UF policy requires that all portable computing devices and storage media be fully encrypted. If your computer is managed by UF IT staff, they should have already enabled encryption for laptops. Contact your IT support group if you have any questions or need help with encryption of UF computers and storage.

UF Mobile Computing and Storage Devices Standard

Run Anti-Malware Software

Malwareis a more general term that refers to all sorts of unwanted software. Viruses are a category of malware, but malware can also includeRansomware,SpywareandAdware. Besides damaging your computer or data, malware often can lead to breaches of your private data or tracking of your online activity.

Most anti-virus software will stop some types of malware besides just viruses, but for the best protection, you can install dedicated anti-malware tools. You can refer to The Wirecutter guide,The Best Antivirus is not Traditional Antivirusfor more information.


What are 3 tips to protect the security of your computer or your private information? ›

Install anti-virus software, anti-spyware software, and a firewall. For additional protection, you may want to consider cyber insurance, which can keep you and your family safe if you fall victim to a cyberattack.

What is protecting in computer security? ›

Computer security, also called cybersecurity, is the protection of computer systems and information from harm, theft, and unauthorized use. Computer hardware is typically protected by the same means used to protect other valuable or sensitive equipment—namely, serial numbers, doors and locks, and alarms.

What are the 4 steps to protect your computer? ›

  • Check for Windows and Application Updates.
  • Activate Internet Firewall.
  • Install and regularly run Antispyware.
  • Install and regularly run Antivirus on entire system.

What are the most important steps to protect a computer? ›

Six Steps to Secure Your Computer
  • Install antivirus software and keep it updated daily. ...
  • Apply software updates regularly. ...
  • Use strong passwords and change your password regularly. ...
  • Lockdown unnecessary network accessible files/software. ...
  • Remove unknown or suspicious email. ...
  • Backup your files periodically.

What is the best way to protect important computer files? ›

10 tips to protect your files on your PC and in the Cloud
  1. Keep your computer and devices updated. ...
  2. Create a strong password. ...
  3. Use Microsoft Defender. ...
  4. Encrypt your hard drive. ...
  5. Encrypt your mobile device. ...
  6. Add security information to your cloud storage account. ...
  7. Choose a cloud service that uses encryption. ...
  8. Ransomware protection.
8 Sept 2020

What are top 5 key elements of an information security? ›

It relies on five major elements: confidentiality, integrity, availability, authenticity, and non-repudiation.

What are the three types of information protection? ›

When we discuss data and information, we must consider the CIA triad. The CIA triad refers to an information security model made up of the three main components: confidentiality, integrity and availability. Each component represents a fundamental objective of information security.

Why is it important to protect your personal information? ›

There is nothing more important than keeping your personal information secure so that you can prevent identity theft. This information is the gateway to your financial institutions, medical records, credit score and other important personal records.

Why is computer security so important? ›

It's an important protective measure useful against cyber criminals and malicious threats. It can automatically detect, quarantine, and remove types of malware. Automatic virus updates should always be enabled to ensure maximum protection against the latest threats. Keep software up to date.

What are the 5 types of computer security? ›

Cybersecurity can be categorized into five distinct types:
  • Critical infrastructure security.
  • Application security.
  • Network security.
  • Cloud security.
  • Internet of Things (IoT) security.

What is computer security example? ›

For example, Information security is securing information from unauthorized access, modification & deletion. Application Security is securing an application by building security features to prevent from Cyber Threats such as SQL injection, DoS attacks, data breaches and etc.

What are three computer safety rules? ›

Cybersecurity 101: 7 Basic Internet Safety Tips
  1. Protect Your Personal Information With Strong Passwords. ...
  2. Keep Personal Information Private. ...
  3. Make Sure Your Devices Are Secure. ...
  4. Pay Attention to Software Updates. ...
  5. Be Careful About Wifi. ...
  6. Set Up Two-Factor Authentication. ...
  7. Back Up Your Personal Data.

What are the 3 most important things you do to protect your security online? ›

These tips for being more secure in your online life will help keep you safer.
  • Install an Antivirus and Keep It Updated. ...
  • Explore the Security Tools You Install. ...
  • Use Unique Passwords for Every Login. ...
  • Get a VPN and Use It. ...
  • Use Multi-factor Authentication. ...
  • Use Passcodes Even When They Are Optional. ...
  • Pay With Your Smartphone.

What are the types of data protection? ›

Top 5 Types of Data Protection
27 Dec 2021

What are 4 types of information security? ›

There are four types of information technology security you should consider or improve upon:
  • Network Security.
  • Cloud Security.
  • Application Security.
  • Internet of Things Security.
3 Feb 2022

What are the 3 golden principles of information security? ›

In order to stop cyber criminals in their tracks, here at Infosec Partners we live and breathe by our 3 golden mantras;Protection, Detection and Reaction.

What are the five steps to security personal information? ›

Five Steps Towards Achieving Data Security
  • Take Stock.
  • Scale Down.
  • Lock It.
  • Pitch It.
  • Plan Ahead.
18 Dec 2012

What is the basic security of computer? ›

Three basic security concepts important to information on the internet are confidentiality, integrity, and availability. Concepts relating to the people who use that information are authentication, authorization, and nonrepudiation.

What are the tools to protect information? ›

Various tools and technologies used to help protect against or monitor intrusion include authentication tools, firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and antivirus and encryption software.

Why is it important to protect your online information? ›

Your personal and financial information is highly desirable to cyber criminals. After stealing your identity, they may be able to access your banking details, obtain credit cards or loans, and destroy your credit rating.

Why is it important to protect yourself on the Internet? ›

Most people store a lot of personal information on their computers. If you don't protect your computer properly when you're online, it's possible that personal details could be stolen or deleted without your knowledge. Your computer can be attacked in a number of ways over the internet.

How does computer security work? ›

Network security involves implementing both hardware and software mechanisms to protect the network and infrastructure from unauthorized access, disruptions, and misuse. Effective network security helps protect organizational assets against multiple external and internal threats.

What is information & computer security? ›

Information and Computer Security aims to cover the human aspects of security, looking at the impact of user and business behaviours when dealing with security issues. It communicates fresh ideas and cutting-edge research to academics and practitioners.

What are the 2 types of security in using computers? ›

There are essentially two major types of computer security — software and hardware security — with a number of other categories within them.

What are the 7 steps to safety? ›

The seven steps to safety are:
  • Step 1: Make Your Place Safe.
  • Step 2: Cool Tools for Family Rules.
  • Step 3: Feel Safe with People.
  • Step 4: What's Special about Our Family?
  • Step 5: Emergency.
  • Step 6: Ready Yet?
  • Step 7: Make a Care Plan.

What is the first rule of computer safety? ›

The first rule is the simple security rule which states that a user at a certain clearance level can't read anything which has a label at a higher sensitivity level which by definition they do not have access to.

How do you stay safe and secure online? ›

10 ways to stay safe online
  1. Get the latest anti-virus and firewall software. ...
  2. Update your internet browser. ...
  3. Create a strong and easy-to-remember password. ...
  4. Use a different password to the one you use for other services. ...
  5. Change your password on a regular basis. ...
  6. Never share your password.

What is the most important thing in security? ›

Physical Access Control

This is one of the most important aspects of preventive security measures taken at the workplaces across the globe. The workplace security should be robustly controlled through ID based physical restriction for unauthorized access to the workplace or assets of the company.

What are those five 5 tips to stay safe online? ›

Here are five simple tips on how to stay safe online.
  • Use unique passwords. Using the same password for logging in to multiple accounts might seem easy and more convenient. ...
  • Log out from services. ...
  • Keep your software up to date. ...
  • Beware phishing attacks. ...
  • Take back-ups.

What are the 3 main security tools are used to protect your computer from threats? ›

Antivirus software, antispyware software, and firewalls are also important tools to thwart attacks on your device.

What are the 3 steps to better Internet security? ›

Three Steps To Improving Your Business's Cyber Security
  1. Identify Weaknesses With Cyber Security Assessments. Step one is to find any weaknesses in your cyber security. ...
  2. Create And Manage Stronger Passwords. The second step is to fix your passwords. ...
  3. Cyber Security and Data Protection Training.
27 Jan 2020

What are 5 ways to stay safe online? ›

Here are five simple tips on how to stay safe online.
  1. Use unique passwords. Using the same password for logging in to multiple accounts might seem easy and more convenient. ...
  2. Log out from services. ...
  3. Keep your software up to date. ...
  4. Beware phishing attacks. ...
  5. Take back-ups.

What are 10 ways to stay safe online? ›

10 ways to stay safe online
  1. Get the latest anti-virus and firewall software. ...
  2. Update your internet browser. ...
  3. Create a strong and easy-to-remember password. ...
  4. Use a different password to the one you use for other services. ...
  5. Change your password on a regular basis. ...
  6. Never share your password.

What are 3 reasons computer security is important? ›

Here are reasons why is computer security important: To Protect Personal Information. To Protect Organization properties. To Prevent from Data theft.

How can computer security be improved? ›

Update regularly

Implementing software and system security updates quickly limits possible exposure to vulnerabilities. Make regular password updates mandatory and teach users how to create and remember strong passwords.

What makes a good security strategy? ›

A security policy is of no use to an organization or the individuals within an organization if they cannot implement the guidelines or regulations within the policy. It should be concise, clearly written and as detailed as possible in order to provide the information necessary to implement the regulation.


1. How do I protect my computer? Cybersecurity Tip
(David Papp)
2. Security Awareness Training: Protecting your Home Computer
(Terranova Security)
3. Information Security Awareness: "Securing Your Computer Simply"
(Higher Education Information Security Council)
4. Introduction to Computer Security - Information Security Lesson #1 of 12
(Dr. Daniel Soper)
5. Microsoft shares tips on how to protect your information and privacy against cybersecurity threats
(Microsoft Cloud)
6. How to Protect Your Computer From Hackers | Cyber Security
(Regina Dean Reed)
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