Windows 10 security tips and is Windows Defender good enough?

This article provides important information and tips about improving the security of your Windows 10 PC.

And:

What's the best free and paid antivirus software for Windows 10? or is Windows Defender good enough and does it offer enough protection?

The best protection is YOU

Look:

Even the best antivirus programs can fail to detect new malware (computer viruses, ransomware, spyware, trojans, rootkits, etc.). [1]

And:

Malware threats have grown significantly in the past decade.

Malware threats grow so fast, that antivirus programs take too long to catch up with malware (even the best antivirus programs). [2]

The best protection is you, and that's why it's important to learn about online threats and how to protect yourself from these threats.

You can avoid a lot of threats with some basic knowledge of computer and internet security and paying attention to everything you do, online and offline.

Don't use an administrator account for daily use, but use a standard account instead

This one change can make your PC instantly safer.

If malware or a hacker gets access to your system, then the malware or hacker has the same rights to whatever account you're using.

So if you're using an administrator account, then the hacker or malware has complete control over your system.

You need at least one administrator account on your PC, so you will have to create and use a new standard account, or create a new admin account and change your existing account to a standard account.

If you're already using your PC and set things the way you liked it, then it's better to create a new account and make the new account an administrator account, because when you create a new account you will need to set things up from the start (like personal settings, start menu, desktop shortcuts, program settings, etc.).

The steps below will show you how to create a new user account and also how to make an account an administrator account.

1. Open Settings.

2. Open Accounts.

3. Click on Family & other users (left sidebar).

4. Click on Add someone else to this PC.

5. Click on I don't have this person's sign-in information located at the bottom.

6. Click on Add a user without a Microsoft account located at the bottom.

7. Type a username, password (twice) and password hint.

Tip! If you want to use this account as an administrator account, then use a strong password.

8. Click on Next.

9. Click on the account you want to use as an administrator account and choose Change account type.

10. Select Administrator and then click on OK.

11. Now click on the account you want to use daily and choose Change account type.

12. Select Standard User and then click on OK.

Don't use the administrator account for daily use, but use a standard account instead.

Now, whenever you need to install software or change system settings, Windows will ask you for the administrator password.

It's much safer this way.

Keep Windows 10 and other software updated.

Updates may include important security fixes that prevent threats from infecting your Windows operating system or programs that are installed on your computer.

Always let Windows download and install updates automatically, so that you don't miss any critical security update.

Use antivirus software

Even though antivirus programs cannot offer you 100% protection against viruses and other malware, you can still benefit from having antivirus software on your Windows PC.

You can see antivirus software as an extra layer of protection.

The free antivirus programs I recommend are:

If you need more functions (e.g., multi-layer ransomware protection) and settings, then you can try a paid antivirus program.

Most antivirus companies offer the option to download and try their paid antivirus programs for free for 30 days.

The paid antivirus programs I recommend are:

Another option would be Windows Defender.

But:

Is Windows Defender good enough?

Windows Defender has improved significantly compared to the beginning of Windows 10.

It's well-integrated in Windows 10, doesn't cause problems after updates (unlike some AVs [3]), and doesn't show you any advertisements.

But:

Some people say that Windows Defender slows down their PC noticeably, while others don't even notice it at all.

You may notice it more when your PC has a normal hard disk instead of an SSD (solid state drive).

Also, Windows Defender still scans everything like an antivirus from the '90s, and this can cause slow down, and make full system scans take a long time.

Some antivirus programs make scans faster by adding clean files to a cache and will not scan the clean files at the next scan. They will remove files from the cache if someone or something access or modifies the files.

But:

You can try Windows Defender or another antivirus program (like the ones I mentioned before) and see how it works on your PC.

Use malware scanners

Like I said before, even the best antivirus software can fail to detect malware (computer viruses, spyware, rootkits, etc.), so that's why it's a good idea to use second opinion malware scanners.

The free virus (malware) scanners I recommend are:

If you think that your PC has a virus (malware) infection, then you can also try the following free virus (malware) scanners:

You can use these virus (malware) scanners alongside your current antivirus software.

You can use these scanners to scan your PC periodically (e.g., once a week) or when you think your PC is infected with a virus or another type of malware.

Cover up or unplug your PC's webcam

Hackers can use Trojan horse malware to secretly install and run remote desktop software without your knowledge and with this remote desktop software they can turn on your computer's webcam and watch and even record you.

If you want to be absolutely sure nobody is watching and recording you via the webcam, then unplug your webcam if you're not using it or cover your webcam with tape, a peel-off sticker, or something else that can obscure the lens but can be removed easily when you actually want to use your webcam. [4][5]

Create regular backups of your important files

Malware can damage, delete or encrypt (password protect) files (e.g., documents, photos, videos, etc.).

So, I don't need to explain any more about how important it is to have backups of your important files.

I recommend storing your backups on multiple locations, like on an external hard drive and a cloud storage service (e.g., OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.).

How to back up your files in Windows using free and reliable backup software

Harden Windows settings

SysHardener is a free tool that allows you to easily and quickly harden Windows settings to mitigate cybersecurity threats.

With this tool you can restrict functionalities of Windows and secure vulnerable programs (e.g., Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader, etc.).

1. Open your web browser.

2. Go to https://www.novirusthanks.org/products/syshardener/.

3. Click on Portable Version (located below the description of SysHardener).

Your browser will now download SysHardener.

4. Go to the downloaded file.

5. Unzip the syshardener_portable.zip file.

A folder named PORTABLE will appear.

6. Open the PORTABLE folder.

7. Open the 64-bit or 32-bit folder (depends on your system).

Note: If you don't know if your system is 32-bit or 64-bit, then right-click on the Windows start menu button, click on System, and then under Device specifications, you look at System type.

Or:

Press the [Windows] + [pause/break] keys on your keyboard and then under System, you look at System type.

8. Double-click on the SysHardener.exe file.

SysHardener will appear and you can see which settings it will change.

You probably don't need to change anything.

9. Click on Apply Selected.

SysHardener will ask you if you want to create a system restore point.

10. Click on Yes.

SysHardener will now change the settings.

These settings will make Windows 10 more secure.

11. When the process is complete it will ask you to restart your PC. Click Yes to restart your PC.

You can also watch my tutorial video on YouTube (link opens in a new tab).

If you are using Windows Defender, then use ConfigureDefender

If you're using Windows Defender, then I recommend using ConfigureDefender.

ConfigureDefender is a free easy to use portable tool for configuring Windows Defender antivirus settings in Windows 10 (also hidden settings).

I will show you how to use ConfigureDefender in the steps below.

1. Go to https://github.com/AndyFul/ConfigureDefender (link opens in a new tab).

2. Click on the Clone or download button and then click on Download ZIP.

Download ConfigureDefender

3. Unzip the downloaded ConfigureDefender-master.zip file (right-click > Extract All).

4. Double-click on ConfigureDefender_x64.exe (64-bit) or double-click on ConfigureDefender_x86.exe (32-bit) (depends on your system).

Note: If you don't know if your system is 32-bit or 64-bit, then right-click on the Windows start menu button, click on System, and then under Device specifications, you look at System type.

Or:

Press the [Windows] + [pause/break] keys on your keyboard and then under System, you look at System type.

ConfigureDefender will now open.

5. Under PROTECTION LEVELS, you click on the HIGH button.

Settings are now changed.

6. Click on the CLOSE button at the bottom of the tool.

Use OSArmor to add extra protection

If you are using free antivirus software, then I recommend using OSArmor.

OSArmor monitors and blocks suspicious processes behaviors to prevent infections by malware.

It's lightweight, needs no configuration and runs in the background protecting your system.

Don't install pirated (cracked) software

The crack (a piece of software used to crack the software to make it look genuine) might actually be disguised malware. [6]

Don't open email attachments from a suspicious email

Many computer viruses are spread through email attachments.

Attachments that contain viruses are either executable programs (file extensions: .com, .exe, .vbs, .zip, .scr, .dll, .pif, and .js) or macro viruses (file extensions: .doc, .dot, .xls, and .xlt). [7]

If you don't trust a file or link, then you can also check it online using VirusTotal.com.

Note: VirusTotal is not a 100% accurate solution. Even though it scans files and links with over 70 antivirus scanners and URL/domain blacklisting services, it's still possible that it misses something.

Create a system image backup

It's a good idea to create a Windows system image backup after you've just installed Windows and all of your 100% trustworthy software.

A system image is a backup that contains a copy of your Windows with all of your installed programs, system settings, and files.

You can use a system image to restore Windows and software when your PC or hard disk stops working, or when your computer has a virus or other malware that is difficult to remove or when Windows is not working properly anymore.

When your PC gets infected by a virus or another type of malware, then it's often better to restore the system image backup or re-install Windows.

You never know if your security software detects everything. Like I said before, even the best program can fail to detect new malware.

Malware can also burrow itself deeper into your system and hide from being discovered by your security software.

And:

Malware can also open doors for other malware.

The only way to be 99% sure, is to restore a Windows system image or re-install Windows 10.

How to create a system image backup using free backup software

If you're interested in more tips about computer and internet security, then visit this page: Important computer and internet security tips.


Maybe you're also interested in:

How to stay safe online (internet safety tips)

Computer virus: types, symptoms, protection, and removal

Malware: types, protection, prevention, detection, and removal


References:

LastLineLabs: Antivirus isn't dead, it just can't keep up

GCN: Is antivirus now useless?

HowToGeek: Windows updates are breaking PCs with these antivirus programs

Mashable: Why it's a good idea to cover up your webcam

PCWorld: Why you should cover up your laptop's webcam

Bitdefender: Dangers of using pirated software

COMODO: Top 3 ways an email virus infects computers