How Can I Protect Myself on My Computer?

If there is one thing we’re all wondering, it’s how to keep ourselves safe when we’re on our computers. We hear daily about attacks by viruses, and we want to be sure that it doesn’t happen to us. It can be a big concern for many people, and they’d feel much more at ease if they could just keep their computer activity safe.

For that reason we asked our writers/experts, “How can I protect myself on my computer?”

The Solution

Jeffry jokes that to be totally safe you need to “isolate your computer from any contact to the outside. Don’t connect to the Net, don’t transfer files using a thumb drive,” and instead of using the computer get back to a typewriter instead. Of course this is just silly advice, but his point is why use a computer if it’s isolated. Besides, it’s nearly impossible to completely protect yourself on a connected computer.

That’s why Mahesh suggests that you follow four simple rules to keep yourself as protected as possible:

  • Don’t install unknown apps
  • Don’t click on links that look malicious
  • Install a good anti-virus program and be sure to keep it updated
  • Keep your OS updated with the latest version as well

Putting his humor to the side, Jeffry agrees with Mahesh, noting that even Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, is known to put tape over his computer camera. Barring that you can’t be completely safe, he suggests following Mahesh’s simple rules and possibly changing to an OS with a lesser-known security risk.

Mostly he believes you shouldn’t spend your time being too paranoid about staying protected and should just “enjoy your time in front of the computer.

What do you think about this advice? Do you agree? Or do you believe it’s not as simple as this and that there is much more you can do to stay safe? How do you protect yourself on your computer? Join in on the conversation and let us know your ideas!

Laura Tucker Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site's sponsored review program.


  1. It also would help if one did not use a malware magnet Like Windows. BSD or Linux are inherently much more secure

    1. As soon as Linux recognizes all my PC’s hardware I/E Webcam, and wifi chip not just the nic card and printer and run certain programs like itunes then I’ll happily make the change. Also FYI dragonmouth I think already even Linux has already been exploited too. So yes I’ll agree that Linux is way more secure then windows, it’s still not completely secure

      1. “As soon as Linux recognizes all my PC’s hardware……………………….”
        Just for my information, when was the last time you tried Linux? Unless it was an some esoteric, out of the ordinary device, I have rarely had problems with hardware recognition in Linux and that goes back for the past 10 years. In fact, I have had more problems with Windows not recognizing hardware that Linux recognized right away.

        “it’s still not completely secure”
        The only system that is COMPLETELY secure is one that is turned off and not plugged into the wall. Even a system that is totally disconnected from the outside world is vulnerable to malware on USB sticks, floppies, CD/DVDs, etc.

        1. The last time was maybe a year ago and it was on an Asus X550C Laptop with a 64 bit dual core processor with 8 gigs Ram. I tried Ubuntu Linspire and several versions of Linux Mint all with the same result. Other then that I did love how Linux behaved and like I said if they fix the driver issues and make better cross compatibility with windows programs outside of wine and virtual box I would switch back in a heartbeat like now. Because even though Linux did once get breached most people write malware and viruses for windows os’s and not hardly at all for Linux, and Linux is much harder to crack then windows is.

          1. “if they…….make better cross compatibility with windows programs outside of wine and virtual box”
            Why should Linux developers go out of their way to ‘make better cross compatibility with windows programs’ when neither Microsoft nor Apple go out of their way to ‘make better cross compatibility with Linux programs’? In fact Microsoft goes out of their way to make sure that no other O/S can run on the hardware that Windows runs on (see Secure Boot, EFI). You want compatibility? Most Linux Office suites can read AND write almost any file format that MS Office ever used. MS Office, OTOH, is incapable of reading, let alone writing, any file format other than their own proprietary ones. I wonder if the current version of MS Office can read file formats of MS Office versions prior to MS Office 2007. Microsoft refuses to allow MS Office read Open Document formats which have been accepted as standards by the international PC community. So much for the vaunted compatibility of Windows.

  2. The only way to be secure is to be proactive with security. I don’t agree that you should just “enjoy your time in front of your computer”…thats an ignorant way of thinking, and most likely its how a lot of people get caught with malware, viruses, and even worse: ransomware. With the rise and constant upgrading of the various types of ransomware out there, the best things you can do to protect yourself are simple:
    Get a 2TB or grater sized external USB hard drive and make copies of EVERYTHING you cannot afford to lose. Period. It will probably take you the better part of a weekend to get everything backed up, but you’ll be secure in your knowledge that if you power on your machine tomorrow and you’ve been affected by ransomware, you will be able to completely blow away the OS (by re-installing) and then replace everything you had there before. (You DO know that you’ll need to change EVERY password on your system and those which connected you to Google Yahoo, DropBox, iCloud or anything else out there on the web…RIGHT!!??) As for not being paranoid, as long as you have backups and they’re CURRENT you should be ok. Because there’s nothing worse than having to backup an infected system with a copy that’s from a week ago!…So to reiterate:
    Get 2TB or grater external HDD
    Perform backups regularly…..and finally….
    Be wise online. You don’t have to click on everything you come across, sometimes just reading the article is enough. Too many times I’ve seen people who are reading an article click on some like that says “You can see more of what the author describes by clicking HERE” and that’s their downfall. A lot of content online can be “infected” with malicious code, which might take you to the properly linked site, but which also “deposits” a bit of something you DON’T want on your computer. Nowadays I find I like using Chrome and Firefox in “Reader View” which presents JUST the text and not much else, no active links, no gifs spinning, blinking or flipping back and forth, no videos that are trying to sell me something, just the content you want to read and that’s it. If I want to do more research on something I’m reading, I can always do it from the safety of DuckDuckGo’s homepage, and of course with the added security I’ve installed on my systems (ClamAV / Panda etc.) along with my own security measures (ipTables….SELinux…UFW etc.) I’m not too worried about much of that. But for my family (especially the ones who are up in age!) I have to constantly “put out fires” that should have NEVER been started! But I have a plan in mind, when next I get “The Call” from one of them?…I will tell them their system is completely hosed, but that I can install a “safer” version of an OS on their machine. Then?..I’ll give ’em Linux Mint in either Cinnamon or MATE and that’ll be the end of my worries! Of course I’ll have to show them a few things regarding Linux and installing software, but it’s a fair trade-off!!

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