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PC Fortress: Four Steps to Secure Office PCs

To the castle walls! OK, so that was a bit dramatic. PC security isn't as glamorous as a Hollywood war movie, but it's undeniably more important to you and your business. These tips can help keep things secure.

So you have a new office PC. Are you ready to defend it?

One of the most important steps in setting up a computer is creating a bulletproof security defense. This initial protection will not only keep documents and data safe, but also ensure that your PC performs well and stays speedy.

To make sure you’re putting the strongest protections in place, follow these steps:

Step 1: Turn on the Firewall

Much like the name implies, a firewall is a barrier between your computer and the outside world. It helps to block viruses and other security risks. To turn on the firewall in Windows 7, click the Start button and then Control Panel. In the search box, type “firewall” and then click on Windows Firewall. On the left-hand side of the pane, there will be an option to turn the firewall on or off. Type your administrator password when prompted, click Turn on Windows Firewall under each network location and then click OK.

Step 2: Set Automatic Updates in Windows

Hackers are constantly tweaking their attacks and programs, so you must continually be in defensive mode. Automatic Updates allows you to get the latest security protections. To turn these on in Windows 7 and Windows Vista, click Start and type “Windows update” in the search box. Click on Windows Update when it appears in the Programs list. In the pane, click Change Settings. You’ll have several options, but a popular choice is Recommended Updates. After you choose your option, click OK.

Step 3: Install Microsoft Security Essentials

This program is a free download from Microsoft that enables you to combat viruses, spyware and other threats. It runs automatically in the background, making updates to your security settings. Visit this page to download and install the Security Essentials protection.

Step 4: Install Security Software

Having additional security software beyond Microsoft’s protections adds another layer or two of defense. Numerous security products are available, so do some homework on which one seems best suited to your needs and budget. Choose a reputable company that’s backed by tech support and offers updates to its program. Once you’ve chosen, you can download the software either from a disk or from the company’s Web site. After the download, open the setup program and follow the instructions. Most, if not all, security applications offer easy setup that guides you through the process.

Although it’s tempting to fire up a new PC and get on the Internet right away, it’s a smart idea to set up your security first. Ensuring the computer is properly defended now, when you’re just setting it up, will save you from having to scramble later if any viruses manage to attack.

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