This is part of a new weekly series featuring content written by the Lenovo Companion App Content Team

What would you do if all the data on your computer were suddenly inaccessible? Or your banking information was compromised? Unfortunately, these cyber threats are very real and prevalent.

Thankfully, there are plenty of steps you can take to safely protect your PC and the data stored on it. We caught up with Gary Davis, chief consumer security evangelist at McAfee to get his “must do” list for securing your Lenovo device. Here are the seven critical steps he recommends you take today:

1. Always apply security software updates

Select Lenovo systems arrive with a full-service trial version of McAfee® software that offers protection from viruses, malware and more. Whether you continue with this software or opt for a different antivirus program, you should always be sure it’s turned on and your system is set to apply software patches and updates.

“Without fail, those updates are addressing the latest and most important security vulnerabilities,” Davis says. “This one step will go a long way in keeping your system safe.”

2. Make sure your security settings are current

True, you can adjust settings so security updates are applied automatically in the background. But if you’re like many users, it’s possible you disabled a firewall or other setting (to access a game, for instance) and never remembered to turn it back on. Get in the habit of regularly checking to ensure your firewall is turned on and System Update is actively scanning for the most current drivers, firmware and security updates.

3. Use public WiFi with caution

The ability to get online from virtually anywhere is a great advantage, but it doesn’t come without risks. Davis says public networks are notoriously easy for hackers to “mimic” and reroute—all they’d need to do to access credit card numbers or personal information you share. To stay safe, save banking transactions and online purchases for when you’re using a secure home network.

4. Be leery of download links and attachments

If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t open email attachments from senders you don’t recognize, and be cautious even when opening attachments from people you do know—especially if the subject line or content is questionable. It may be an indication the person’s account has been compromised and is being used to send harmful viruses.

5. Watch out for social media scams

Most people know to ignore and delete suspicious emails, but many aren’t aware of scams taking place on social media sites. Many promotions are actually ploys to pull your personal data, so verify a company is reputable and trustworthy before interacting with it. Even then, be highly selective when signing up, opting in or downloading.

6. Use a website scoring tool

Many free tools, such as McAfee® SiteAdvisor® software, will rate and score websites to help you safely surf the web. These programs are designed to flag suspicious domains and let you know which links are likely to have malware, all while you’re searching with Google or other search engines. “We encourage consumers to use these tools because they really do protect you from downloading things that could be harmful to your PC,” says Davis.

7. Back up your files frequently

Even with the most stringent security measures, there’s always a chance something could go wrong. Should you ever miss a security update or forget to turn on the firewall, have a backup of your most important files. You can use an external hard drive or a remote storage program such as DropBox or a combination of the two. There are many products and services, so choose the one that best fits your needs and use it to securely store all your music, memories and work files in one place.

Lenovo Companion—Your New Go-To App

If you like reading this type of content, make sure to check out the Lenovo Companion app that is preloaded on all Windows 8 and 8.1 Lenovo and Think systems.You can find it on your system in the Lenovo Apps section on the Windows Start Screen.

Lenovo Companion is filled with exclusive content to help you learn about your new Lenovo or Think system. You'll find quick-reference “how to” articles on everything from getting to know the preloaded apps on your system to how to use your new trackpad. And, in select countries, you'll be able to stay up-to-date on technology news with articles and blogs from trusted sources, partners and Lenovo Insider bloggers. 

Be sure to note...the new version of Lenovo Companion is only available on Windows 8.1. So, if you’re running Windows 8 or an older version of Windows, now is the time to upgrade. Continue reading more about Lenovo Companion in this blog post

McAfee and SiteAdvisor are trademarks or registered trademarks of McAfee, Inc.

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