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How To Effectively Secure Your New Computer

When you purchase a shiny new computer, it’s tempting to dive right in and start using it. First things first: make sure it’s secure. These are the basic steps you need to take.

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Securing your computer isn’t very difficult, but the honest truth is that it’s time consuming. That’s mainly because almost the first thing you have to do is ensure that your operating system is fully patched and up-to-date, and downloading those patches takes time. Other than that, the process is actually straightforward, and the essential steps are the same for Windows, Mac and Linux.

1. Set A Secure Password

When you first switch your new machine on, it will go through varying installation processes, but one of the first will be asking you to set up a new username and account on the system. It can be tempting to set a blank password, but don’t make that mistake: that makes it much easier for other people to access your data (and for malware to take advantage of administrator permissions). Check our guide to the top 10 mistakes people make with passwords and set a secure option.

2. Patch Your System

Once your machine has finally booted to the desktop, the crucial but tedious stage begins: patching. We have a detailed guide on how to do this for Windows and Mac if you don’t already know. The key point? You have to go through the process multiple times, until there are no more fresh patches to download. Is this annoying? Yes. Is this essential? Yes. Keep checking for new updates until none are available.

3. Install Security Software

Patching will block many exploits, but new problems are constantly being discovered. No matter what platform you’re running, security software will help remove known exploits and block newly-emerging ones. There are arguments for both paid and free options; the important point is that installing nothing is a bad idea. Make your choice, set it up, and ensure it automatically downloads updates on a regular basis.

4. Set Up Your Password Manager

We’re big fans of using a password manager so that you can have properly secure passwords without needing to memorise them all. Check out our recent guide to how to choose one if you’re not already using one. If you already have an existing account, set that software up/

There are lots of specific additional things you can do depending on your machine and your app choices, including setting up fine-grained User Authentication Control on Windows or enabling/tweaking Gatekeeper on a Mac. Those are sensible steps as well, but the basics listed here come first.

Lifehacker 101 is a weekly feature covering fundamental techniques that Lifehacker constantly refers to, explaining them step-by-step. Hey, we were all newbies once, right?


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