easy to protect your data with Windows 8.1, explains.

Peace of mind
Keep your PC secure from malicious software.

Microsoft spends a lot of effort improving the security mechanisms in its operating systems. Windows 8.1 builds on the security enhancements of previous releases to protect you against malicious bits of software, such as viruses, spyware and other nasties.

Microsoft’s In-house Trustworthy Computing Team has outlined the security improvements in Windows 8.1, and broken them down into four categories: trustworthy hardware, modern access control, protecting sensitive data, and malware resistance. The first three are focused on enterprise users, and are geared towards BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) scenarios.

The good news for home users is that Microsoft is also beefing up its built-in malware resistance. For one, Internet Explorer11 will ship

Step-by-step: Protect your computer
Bolster Windows 8.1’s security tools with the extra protection of Malwarebytes
Crushes malware. Restores confidence.

Download and install

Malwarebytes is available as a paid-for service, but there’s also a free version available to download – visit to download it. When installing the program on your PC or laptop, make sure you uncheck the box that enables the free trial of the Pro version – this will ensure you’re using the right version of the tool.

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Review settings

The program has been designed to download new malware definitions automatically to keep itself (and your PC’s security) fresh and up to date. You can easily switch to the Settings tab to tweak and customise the behaviour of the Malwarebytes program, although the default settings you’ll find there should work fine for most people.with the Enhanced Protection Mode enabled by default, which is designed to safeguard your data even if an attacker has managed to compromise the browser or one of its add-ons. Microsoft has also improved its built-in Windows Defender tool.

Using Windows Defender

Windows Defender was upgraded to become an antivirus program with the release of Windows 8. To access the program, type defender on the Windows 8.1 Start screen. The coloured bar at the top of the Windows Defender interface reflects the protection status of your computer. There are big red warnings if the program is turned off, or your database is out of date. Windows Defender keeps itself updated by automatically downloading new updates to its virus definitions database.

The main interface lists fourtabs. From the Home tab you can run a quick scan or a full scan by selecting the appropriate button and clicking’Scan now’. With the custom button,you can scan specific drives, directories, or even individual files.

If Windows Defenderfinds something objectionable, it moves it into a quarantined area. To view these items, switch to the History tab, select the’Quarantined items’ radio button and click the ‘View details’button. This brings up a list of programs that Windows Defender has taken action on, along with the alert level, and the date. From here you can choose to remove all quarantined items, or remove them selectively.

Sometimes Windows Defender might accidentally quarantine a harmless program. In such a case, you can click the’Restore’button to ask Defender to letyou continue uslngthe program. This program is now listed as an Allowed item, and Defender will not flag the program in any future scans of your PC.

Although Windows Defender does a nice job of keepingyour system clean, if yo u a re re a I ly pa ra noid about malware, you can use a dedicated anti-malware scanner, such as Malwarebytes (see walkthrough below). However, there’s a particular type of malware, known as a worm, which specialises in spreading over the network. Having a well-configured firewall is an essential safeguard against this type of malware. It also protects you against attackers trying to sneak into your computer, who are exploitingthe capabilities of trusted programs.

Windows Firewall

Windows Firewall is designed to block unwanted and potentially dangerous connections. Remember how Windows prompts you to choose whether a new network is a home, work or public network? If you choose a public network, where your computer could be a sitting duck for a network attack, the Windows Firewall blocks almost all incoming connections or intrusions.

For the most part, there’s no need to configure the Windows Firewall. Most programs that need to listen for incoming connections automatically tweak the Windows Firewall to allow such connections during installation. However, Windowsdoes allow users to manually configure the firewa 11 if they wantto.Tobringupthe Windows Firewall controls, type firewall on the Windows 8.1 Start screen. You’ll notice several options in the main interface of the firewall.

The’Allow an app or feature through Windows Firewall’ option gives you a list of network-aware programs installed on your PC Along with these programs are details of whether they’re allowed to communicate over private and public networks. Private networks are those that allow sharing, while public networks are those over which sharing is restricted.

If you want to change the settings for a program, click ‘Change settings’, then adjust your options. With ‘Change notification settings’, you can tweak how Windows Firewall alerts you – for example, when a new program is blocked – for both public and private networks. You also get options to either completely block incoming connections, which prevents you from even browsingthe internet, orto turn off the firewall altogether.

If you want to tweak Windows Firewall even more, click the ‘Advanced settings’ option. Here you can control network traffic in far greater detail by creating rules. For example, you can restrict traffic to specific ports.

Although incorrect modifications to the Windows Firewall can isolate your computer from the network, don’t be afraid to experiment. You can always select’Restore defaults’to revert the firewall back to its original setting.

Perform a scan

If you select the Scanner tab, you can perform either a quick or full check of your PC. The latter of these is far more thorough, but it does tend to take a fair bit of time to complete. The third type of scan offered – known as a flash scan – is only available to licensed users, but the full check Is enough for most users.

One important component of Windows 8.1 that plays a crucial role in keeping your computer safe and secure online is the Windows Action Center. This tool monitors the most important parts of the PC and divides them into two broad categories: security and maintenance. You can find the Action Center within the desktop Control Panel, under the option called’System and Security7.

When something needs your attention, the Action Center flags up the problem nice and clearly. It also handily colour- codes any warnings that need your attention right now.

Issues flagged with a yellow border could potentially affect the security or performance of the PC, while a redborder is used for highlighting problems of a more critical nature.

In addition to the colour-coding, the Action Center also displays abrief description of a given problem, along with a link to open the configuration window of the relevant tool to resolve the issue in question.

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