The most recent operating system
For decades, using the same version of Windows is like driving the same car model. You may think that the "grass was greener" before, but without airbags and other modern chips you are putting yourself at extra risk. New versions of operating systems are being released regularly not only so that the manufacturer can make money - Microsoft has already proved it with a free upgrade to Windows 10 - but also to be more resistant to the increasingly sophisticated hacking technology.
Update programs and operating systems
But it is not enough just to switch to the latest version of the OS. It is important not to postpone updates that it offers regularly, as they often contain fixes for critical vulnerabilities that hackers can use to access your computer. For example, the WannaCry extortion virus uses a vulnerability in Windows to encrypt your data and demand a ransom for it, and Microsoft has released a "patch" for this "hole" two months before the global infection.
But security flaws are not only found in operating systems, they can be in any program. That's why it's always worth updating everything that's being updated and not using old "abandoned" software or unsupported versions, because the attackers can also attack your computer through them.
Of course, just update all the programs on time - only half the case. Without effective protection, you still put your data at great risk. Especially since it is not necessary to pay serious amounts for antivirus for a long time - the Internet is full of free, but high quality products.
Antiviruses are not only checked against a list of already known malware, but also try to track down strange behavior of programs. For example, the program may come under suspicion of unauthorized encryption of several files in a row, especially in the most popular directories such as desktop and user documents.
One of the most effective ways to combat viruses that are designed to corrupt or encrypt your data. After all, if you have a backup copy of your important data, you will no longer have to pay the ransom if your computer is infected. You just format the disk, re-install Windows and copy the data from the backup. Long, but cheap. And most importantly, there is no guarantee that the attackers will give you back your files after you have given them the ransom.
Perhaps the most obvious of all the tips, but no less important and effective - do not open anything suspicious. Download necessary content only from proven and trusted sources. Like these free iPhone mockups. Unknown files and programs from the Internet found on unknown forums, where some fake users assure others that it's normal that the program asked for code from SMS; all sorts of links within emails, and even fascinating content within social networks can be malicious. And if it is very itchy to click on a suspicious link or open a program of an unknown developer, once again go through this list and make sure that your OS is updated to the latest version, the antivirus works and is also updated, and important data are stored in safe places outside the computer you want to put at risk.