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Windows 7 security: 5 simple ways to stay safer

Shane O'Neill | Feb. 14, 2011
Are you taking advantage of all the built-in security protection in Windows 7? Here's a quick guide to strengthening your PC's security.

To open Windows Defender, click the Start button located in the far left of the task bar. In the search box, type Defender, and then, in the list of results, click Windows Defender.

User Account Control

UAC, the security feature that prompts you for permission to install or open programs, was despised by Windows Vista users, but it is much more customizable in Windows 7. The options are no longer "on or off"; there are four notification levels that a user can set.

User Account Control
The four settings in Windows 7 UAC's customizable slider range from Always notify to Never notify.

The improved Windows 7 UAC is essential in that it informs you when a program makes a change that could potentially harm your computer or make it susceptible to security threats.

If you are your computer's administrator (in most cases you are), you can click Yes to continue. If you are not an administrator, someone with an administrator account on the computer will have to enter their password for you to continue.

When your permission is needed to open a program or install software, UAC will notify you with one of four different types of dialog boxes:

  • When a program or setting is part of Windows and needs your permission to start.
  • When a program is not a part of Windows and needs your permission to start
  • When a program with an unknown publisher needs your permission to start
  • When you have been blocked by your system administrator from running a program because the program is known to be untrusted
  • To modify User Account Control Settings, click the Start button and then click Control Panel. In the search box, type uac, and then click Change User Account Control Settings.

    Windows Update

    Windows Update can be a pest, especially when updates pop up when you're in the middle of 10 things. But by installing the latest updates as they become available for your PC, you are continually improving the security, reliability and performance of your computer without too much of an inconvenience.

    You can set Windows to automatically install "important" and "recommended" updates or to install important updates only. Important updates are for more critical security and reliability issues and recommended updates address noncritical problems.

    To turn on automatic Windows Updates:

    • Click on the Start button. In the search box type Update, and then in the list of results click Windows Update.
    • In the left pane, click Change Settings.
    • Under Important updates, you can choose if you want to install new updates automatically, and the day and time you want the latest updates to take place (i.e. Every Day at 6 am).
    • Under Recommended Updates select the "Give me recommended updates the same way I receive important updates" check box, and then click OK.


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