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Working from home with an older laptop? Stay secure with a few easy steps

Due to shelter in place regulations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic many of us are forced to create a home office without the resources we typically have at the office. The good news is, no matter what kind of laptop or operating system you have, you can boost your security and better protect your data while working from home in three simple steps.

  1. Update your software

If you haven’t used your laptop in a while it’s very likely your operating system and installed programs are not up to date. Outdated systems and programs are vulnerable to exploits and updating your programs will help patch security flaws and better protect your data. Once you turn on your computer the very first thing you should do is run a manual scan to make sure every installed program and app gets updated. Afterward, you can configure your device to carry out automatic updates or install a program that will update your software for you. You can purchase a standalone software-updater to fully optimize your protection and performance or download a security suite that has an updater integrated into its offerings.

One important note is that since this past February, anyone working from home and running Windows 7 on their laptop will not be able to carry out any software updates. If this is the scenario you’re facing, consider migrating to Windows 10 to ensure you’re able to work safely and securely from home.

While you’re at it, clean up your computer by deleting any programs you don’t use. This limits the opportunities malware has to hijack a program and gain access to your system, plus it frees up useful data storage. To make the task even easier, simultaneously clean up and optimize your device in one step with a free optimizer.

  1. Run an antivirus scan

Once our system and apps are cleaned up and updated, you can run an antivirus scan to further defend your system from viruses and malware. Download a trusted free antivirus scanner to familiarize yourself with the tool and evaluate its level of protection and later you can decide if it’s necessary to buy a more robust antivirus software.

  1. Install a VPN

The best way to protect the data you send and receive while working from home is to set up a VPN (Virtual Private Network). Encrypting data and masking your location, a VPN creates a private, secure internet connection – meaning you can work and surf the web without anyone accessing or eavesdropping in on your online activities. Using a VPN is especially important if your work requires you to send or share customer data, financial information, and other sensitive documents. For even more security, use a network cable to directly connect to the router instead of connecting to the internet via Wi-Fi.

There is one caveat when choosing a personal VPN provider. Be sure to carefully read through the privacy policy as you’ll want to be thoroughly informed if and what kind of access the provider itself has to track your online activities. One recommendation is to download a free VPN from Avira, an award-winning provider that has a strict no-logs policy and does not sell your data to third parties.

More tips for protecting your laptop against malware while working from home

Once you’ve carried out the above, you’ll still need to take precautions as you start working from home on your laptop. Make sure your browser is up-to-date to avoid any unnecessary security risks. Most browsers such as Chrome and Firefox update automatically but it’s good to periodically restart your browser to ensure you are working with the latest version. You can also keep your laptop safe from viruses and malware-free by not downloading random files, updates or apps. Be mindful when dealing with emails, for example, do not click on links or download files from unknown senders and beware of the latest phishing attacks related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Don’t lose your hard work, backup your data

Once you’ve secured your connection and online activities, it’s good to get into the habit of regularly scheduling a backup of your data. By backing up your data you’ll have a clean version of your files to come back to in the event you were to become vulnerable to a virus. Before you restore any files, run an antivirus scan to make sure your backed-up files haven’t been compromised.

With all the worries brought about by the new novel coronavirus if you follow these few steps working from home on an older laptop will at least not be one of them!


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Avira, a company with over 100 million customers and more than 500 employees, is a worldwide leading supplier of self-developed security solutions for professional and private use. With more than 25 years of experience, the company is a pioneer in its field.
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