When we leave our home or car, most of us take simple, sensible precautions like not leaving valuables in plain sight and making sure they're locked. Yet many of our computers, tablets, mobile phones are woefully neglected, and these can often contain much more valuable information.
Everyone who uses a computer or smartphone should make sure it is kept fully protected from malware and computer viruses - yes, even if it's Apple!
It's true that Macs are inherently safer than PCs due to the way they are built, their smaller market share, safeguards within Mac OS X and software control. Read the guide on MacWorld 'Do Macs gets viruses, and do Macs need antivirus software'. However they are not invulnerable, and it's a still a good idea to install security software to make sure you're fully protected.
Our top tips for keeping your computer safe from malware, viruses and malicious attacks are:
Use the latest versions available
This applies to all software, apps and operating systems. When a virus spreads across the world, it nearly always affects out-of-date systems with security vulnerabilities. Sometimes it's frustrating to upgrade when you're familiar with a particular version of a programme, but in the long term it's best to keep step as legacy versions will eventually stop being supported - and that's when they're vulnerable.
Apply security patches and updates
Patches and updates are issued to fix security vulnerabilities, so make sure you apply them as soon as they're available. Set your software and apps to automatically check for updates automatically.
Install security software
Good security software will include a firewall to detect incoming threats and scheduled scans of your whole computer. Many of these systems rely on databases of known threats, so as with all your other software and apps make sure you keep it up-to-date!
Backup, backup, backup
One of the effects of viruses and malware can be to delete or corrupt files and settings. As the name suggests, ransomware works by holding data to ransom. Even if the worst does happen, you can protect yourself (and limit your frustration!) by backing up files and settings so it's easy to reinstall a computer or device. Turn on syncing to allow browsers and mobile phones to store your settings. Download or sync your photos (for example with iCloud on Apple devices or Google photos). Backup up your files regularly, ideally onto a separate drive or online location. Keep a note of all the software you have installed and the version number, so you can reinstall again if necessary.