Edit This Page

Get started with computer hygiene

Get started

Learn to use common computer hygiene practices.

Learn how to

Protect your computer against malware

Importance of protection

You will be better able to successfully use some of the more complex digital technologies and tactics if your computer is well protected from malware.

What is malware?

Malware is the general name for any malicious and undesirable software that attacks your computer and prevents it from working correctly.

See also

To learn how to protect yourself from malware, refer to the Malware and anti-virus lessons.

Keep your software up to date

Limit software weakness and vulnerabilities

Keeping your software up to date limits weaknesses in the software that can be exploited by malware.

Update your operating system

Always keep your operating system (Windows, Linux, Mac OS, etc) updated by downloading the latest updates from the respective websites.

Sign up for security update alerts

Application software (Word, Excel, LibreOffice), either bought or open source, should also be kept up to date. Set your software to send you alerts about security updates, if such an option is available, so that you can get them as soon as they are released.

Automatic updating

Most software on Windows will either update automatically or alert you to available updates, and point you to where you can download them. Windows operating system is set to auto-update by default.

Turn auto-updating on

If your settings are not set to auto-update (mobile-based GSM data providers often advise you to turn off automatic Windows updates to conserve your data bundles) you can turn this function on by going to your computer’s Start menu, selecting All Programs and clicking Windows Update.

Inform you of updates

Alternatively, through the process above you can set Windows Update to inform you of available updates and let you decide whether to download them or not.

Download when ready

This way, you can download and install all your updates when you are in a place with a good and affordable internet connection (e.g. your office)

Use open source software

Updating software is constantly

For most small organisations, keeping your paid-for software up to date can be a challenge. Sometimes you have to buy new licences, or whole new software suites, which can be a drain on your budget.

Open source software is often free

Consider switching to free and open source software (FOSS) such as the office suite LibreOffice, and an open source operating system such as GNU/Linux-based Ubuntu.

Secure open source alternatives

Also consider using Mozilla Thunderbird as your email client and Firefox as your internet browser. As well as being free, FOSS software is also relatively more secure, as there are millions of volunteers looking at the source code and any one of them can spot bugs and fix them much quicker than engineers of proprietary software can.

Updated regularly

Independent developers are also constantly developing digital security tools to add to FOSS software.

Recommended free and open source software

For a list of recommended free and open software, refer to the list Tactical Technology Collective has put together

Keep backups of information

Protect your information

Take measures to ensure that you recover your most important information in the unfortunate event that you lose a computer either through theft, system collapse, or confiscation/destruction by your adversaries.

Keep a backup

Your best bet is to keep a backup of your important information. When creating a backup:

Identify important information

Identify your important information and organize it in one place, such as a folder in your computer.

Choose appropriate storage medium

  • Select a backup storage medium that allows you to replace your backup document with its latest version.

    External hard drives

    An external hard disk drive (HDD), which connects to your computer via USB, has become the storage medium of choice for many.

    Use several external hard drives

    External HDDs can offer storage space of up to 6TB. It is, however, recommended that you store your backups on smaller HDDs, from 350MB to 1TB, which you can keep in separate locations.

    Keep it separate from your computer

    Keep your backups in a separate location from your computer. This ensures that you do not lose both the files on your computer and your backup at the same time.

    Keep in several different locations

    Keeping a couple of backups in different locations is good practice, as long as these too are secured.

    Remotely backup information

    You can also store your backups on remote servers via the internet – on what is now known as the cloud. Ensure you choose a secure online storage service.

    Recommended remote backup services

    Consider secure services like Tresorit and SpiderOak, which are both quite secure and reliable.


  • en/topics/understand-4-digisec/0-getting-started/1-1-intro.md: Getting started with digital security
  • en/topics/practice-1-emergencies/3-seized-devices/1-1-intro.md: What to do if your device is seized

See also: