Windows 7 It ended its cycle on January 14, 2020, however, it still retains a large number of users even though its use has become a security risk.
The reasons why people cling to Windows 7 are diverse. In the case of companies, they could mainly be the strong sense of reliability that it gives and the fact that their solutions are not compatible with Windows 10. On the other hand, end users could also hold on to reliability, more seeing the serious incidents which has come to register Windows 10, although in your case you could add concerns about privacy and the fact that the latest Microsoft system is for many a bloated software (bloatware).
If you are one of those users who have decided to hold on to Windows 7, we invite you to follow these ten tips to minimize the chances of ending up being a victim of malicious actors, which will surely take advantage of the combination of many users and lack of support to carry out cyber attacks and spread malware.
Buy or rent a good security suite with support for Windows 7
As Windows 7 no longer receives updates, this means that all security holes will be exposed and that Microsoft will not correct them unless extended support for the system is acquired.
The situation described in the previous paragraph derives from the need to buy or rent a good payment security suite to minimize the area of surface susceptible to receiving a cyber attack. Although it sounds paradoxical, the abandonment of Microsoft has become an opportunity for developers of antimalware (antivirus) and security solutions to make their August with those users who resist leaving Windows 7.
If we talk about security suites rather than antivirus, it is because, in addition to detecting and neutralizing malware in real time, it is also highly recommended that the solution acquired have at least one firewall competent (if possible it can work with Windows 7) and other tools that strengthen privacy.
We advise against free antivirus because they can cause serious privacy problems, something that has been seen recently with Avast. On the other hand, Microsoft Security Essentials stopped having support the same day that Windows 7 and Windows Defender is not compatible, which further reduces the confidence that can be placed in a free antivirus.
The circumstances mentioned in this point make the acquisition of a competent security suite something critical to keep Windows 7 as safe as possible, and even with those you can find holes that could be impossible to plug through third-party software.
If in doubt, you can consult this article and the following list to choose the security suite that best suits your needs and circumstances.
Use software that is still supported and with updates
Given the possibility that Windows 7 security holes are exposed forever, not only do not skimp on getting good protection, but also be aware of the applications used.
It is important check that the applications used, regardless of what they are, continue to receive updates for Windows 7, although obviously those that rely heavily on the Internet (browsers, email clients) have priority over others that only work offline, such as a videogame consisting of a single-player adventure.
Delving into more concrete details, it is very important check that the web browsers still have support for Windows 7 and can be updated. Here Google has announced that Chrome will continue to be updated until July 15, 2021, a decision that could end up affecting other Chromium-based browsers such as Opera, Vivaldi, Brave and the new Edge. Firefox is for now another option that can be contemplated to navigate from Windows 7.
If an email client such as Outlook or Thunderbird is used, it would be very important to ensure that it continues to receive updates to prevent exploitation of vulnerabilities, and this can be extended to any application that relies on the Internet to offer full functionality, such as Spotify example. If an application loses support, it is advisable to uninstall it and use the web version of the service if it is available.
Uninstall unused and unsupported applications
Yes, this is the previous advice but vice versa. With an unsupported operating system reducing the attack surface is very important to avoid dislikes. This not only covers applications that have stopped offering support for Windows 7, but also those that are not used, since the Microsoft system, contrary to what is usually seen in Linux, does not have a centralized administration that updates all the software, but each application is updated on its own, usually after being opened after logging in.
Needless to say, uninstalling (and avoiding installation) of all software of suspicious, unknown or unrecognized origin is highly recommended, this being a process that is carried out from the typical “Program” – “Uninstall a software” section of the Control Panel.
Buy or rent a good firewall with support for Windows 7?
Does it sound redundant? The reason why we have left this advice between interrogations is because the user may prefer an antimalware and a firewall from different manufacturers.
If the antimalware or security suite purchased does not have a firewall, it is highly recommended to buy or rent a separate one, and if possible, it will work alongside the one included in Windows 7.
Avoid storing compromising data without encryption
Sensitive data must always be safe, but even more so when the operating system is not supported, as is the case with Windows 7.
Here it is especially important to minimize the chances that a malicious actor can gain sensitive data, especially credentials to access services and websites. Here you can use a password manager in order to have all the credentials inside a safe that is not easily available to malicious actors, while for other types of data you can resort to encryption tools or create password protected RAR or 7Zip files.
The activation of the two-factor authentication (or two steps) It is another measure that under these circumstances gains weight to prevent credential theft.
Create an account with limited permissions to minimize the exposed surface
The default use of an Administrator account in Windows ends flattening the ground to cybercriminalsso start using a common user with restricted rights for day to day and daily tasks is a good idea to reduce the chances of success of cyber attacks.
In the “User accounts and child protection” – “Add or remove user accounts” section of the Control Panel you can easily create a user with restricted permissions that will minimize the exposure of system files to cyber attacks. Obviously, the user must not only create it, but also use it always and by default on a day-to-day basis.
Isolate the computer from the Internet
And it is not necessary to have the computer connected to the Internet? For example, in case the main reason for using Windows 7 is the execution of old video games that work offline, it might be a good idea not to have an Internet connection, especially if the applications are supplied through a physical medium (CD , DVD or USB).
Leaving the computer without an Internet connection leaves local access as the only route of attack, although it is important not to install any suspicious, unknown or trust-free applications.
Use a VPN service
Using a good VPN solution will encrypt all traffic generated between the computer and the Internet, reinforcing privacy and preventing data from ending up in the hands of a malicious actor.
As a more user-friendly alternative with less knowledge it is highly recommended make sure that the websites visited have HTTPS and that current security protocols be used, which would be the case of an email client, to name an example.
Upgrade to Windows 10
Using an unsupported operating system is very inadvisable, so from MuyComputer we strongly recommend updating to Windows 10 as soon as possible.
Although Windows 10 generates certain doubts regarding privacy, the user gains in aspects such as the possibility of using the excellent Windows Defender, which can dispense with third-party antimalware, in addition to having the updated system firewall and all security patches.
On the other hand, being the current reference version of Windows the user will not have to worry so much about aspects such as the fact of continuing to have support for the applications used.
Upgrading to Windows 10 can be somewhat traumatic for the user, but in the long run it will end up being the cheapest and safest path, in addition to the most neglected in terms of maintenance.
Switch to Linux?
That Windows 10 still does not convince you? As an alternative you can always try some Linux distribution friendly to the end user. Linux Mint, Zorin and Kubuntu are three of the best options to prevent the transition from being difficult, since they have interfaces similar to that of Windows 7 and with many automatisms that facilitate configuration. On the other hand, having Steam Play lets continue playing the titles available for Windows from the Valve platform.