Since the release of Windows 1 way back in the tech dark ages of 1985, Microsoft’s Windows operating system has gone on to become the most popular PC platform in the world. According to statistics, more than 74 percent of desktop users run Windows.

In line with this huge market share, there are multiple threats that are designed to specifically target Windows. Why would a threat actor develop a malware program targeting Linux, for example, when they can potentially make a far greater profit targeting Windows users.

Whether it’s social engineering, malware, or ransomware, the number of threats designed for Windows runs the full gamut. Accordingly, protecting your Windows PC in 2021 is pretty important. You don’t want to lose your financial information to theft, have your identity stolen, or face a ransomware attack, after all.

With that in mind, here are our top tips to protect your Windows PC in 2021.

Keep Your PC Updated, Always

Updates perform a critical function that affects the overall health of your operating system (OS). Developers release updates to provide patches for any known exploits, vulnerabilities, and bugs. Failing to update your computer is akin to leaving your keys in the front door when you head out; you’re inviting threat actors into your system.

Windows 10 has an automatic update feature, so if you’re running this OS, you shouldn’t need to worry too much. Running an older version of Windows? Install updates when you’re prompted and keep an eye out for available patches.

Avoid Public Wifi Networks

Security researchers have been warning us for years about the dangers of free, open access WiFi networks. Yet few of us actually heed these warnings. It turns out that we should as open WiFi networks are kind of like the wild west of the digital realm, riddled with nasties at every turn, and there’s a very high chance you’ll get shot.

If you absolutely have to connect to a free WiFi network, make sure you’re protected with a high-quality, paid VPN service. VPNs encrypt your data traffic and ensure your online browsing is private, therefore allowing you to dodge all the bullets of free WiFi.

Encrypt Your Disks

If you happen to lose your laptop, or worse, it is stolen, a hacker can very easily garner critical information from your device’s hard disk. You can make this significantly harder for them, if not impossible, by encrypting your disks. Windows 10 offers its Bitlocker feature to users with a Pro or Enterprise version of the OS. If you fall into this category, take advantage of this nifty native tool.

Use Antivirus and Antimalware (Yes, You Need Both)

You have two options here: either use Windows’ native tool Windows Defender (a three-in-one antivirus, antimalware, and firewall program) or switch to security tools made by dedicated cybersecurity companies. There are pluses and minuses to each option, for example, Windows Defender is free, but according to research, it does a poor job of detecting certain threats.

PCMag called it “pretty good at most things”, and you can make of that what you will. If you’re serious about security, it’s better to invest in top notch security tools. Pick up an antimalware, antivirus, and while you’re at it, a good password manager. Choose paid options always, if for no other reason than free anti-threat software is now broadly recognized as adware, and will annoy you with its constant, often misleading notifications.

Get serious about your device’s cybersecurity in 2021 and keep your data away from threat actors. Follow the steps above to start getting secure.