The following are some steps which can be used as a security checklist to ensure that your computer is kept secure.
Patch: ensure that your computer has been set up for automatic updates and operating system updates. A machine which is unpatched is more likely to be effected by vulnerabilities in the software which can be exploited.
Install a protective software: Sophos is one which is available in the form of a free download for Macintosh, Linux and Windows operating systems. Once installed, the software should be set to be able to scan files and update virus definitions on a regular basis.
Create strong passwords: create passwords which are strong and have uppercase and lowercase letters, special characters and numbers in it. Create an acronym out of it which can be easy to remember. Also make sure to create separate passwords for each of your accounts and change them often.
Backup: make sure to back up your machine to protect it from anything unexpected. A month’s worth of backup should be created and make sure that files can be accessed easily whenever needed.
Keep control of access to your machine: make sure to never leave your computer in an area which isn’t secured and or unattended and that too while it is logged on. Public places in particular should be avoided. The physical security of your computer is just as important as its technical security.
Make use of the internet and email safely: do not pay attention to emails whose source you don’t know, especially if there are attachments in the email. You should also make sure to not download anything from sites you don’t trust.
Make use of secure connections: while connected to the internet, data can be vulnerable in transit which is why secure connections and secure file transfer options should be made use of.
Protect any sensitive data: reduce the risk of identity theft by protecting private data. Remove any sensitive data files from your hard drive securely. Make use of encryption tools which have been built into your operating system in order to protect any sensitive files you wish to retain.
Make use of firewall: Windows and Mac computers have basic desktop firewall installed in the operating system. These can be set up and used to protect the computer by scanning files often.
Stay informed: this is probably the most important as staying up to date with latest developments in the operating systems can help you in making better informed decisions.
From the list above, it can be easy to understand that safe practices while using the computer consists of physical and technical ways in which you can protect your computer. The actions you take and the software and security settings you put in place all matter. Both are what are needed to make the right kind of difference. Doing one and avoiding the other will do no good as both need to be undertaken simultaneously which is what will help in ensuring the computer is kept safe.