Modern desktop operating systems such as Microsoft Windows or Apple OS X offer regular software updates. These updates often include patches (fixes) for newly discovered security flaws. It is important to install these updates quickly so devices are secure against malware.

The most convenient and secure way to ensure computers are protected is by enabling automatic updates.

Tip! On Windows 10 machines, you can switch this feature on by choosing the 'Settings' menu, selecting 'Updates and security' and then clicking on 'Advanced Options'.

Tip! On an Apple Mac, open 'System Preferences' and make sure the 'Automatically check for updates', 'Install OS X updates' and 'Install system data files and security updates' options are all enabled.

It's also important to enable automatic updates for your web browsers. The latest versions of Apple's Safari and Microsoft's Edge browsers are updated automatically when you update your operating system. Other popular web browsers like Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox automatically download their own updates, but you'll need to restart the browser for the changes to take effect.

Security software is a good first line of defence against malicious software (malware).

Modern versions of Windows include free security software called Windows Defender. Microsoft also allows the installation of third-party security software for users looking for a higher standard of protection.

Apple Mac computers don't include security software by default, so it's important to install reputable third-party software.

Good security software can help protect your business from phishing attacks, ransomware and other threats. In selecting security software (such as anti-virus or anti-malware), be sure to first read reviews to assess its reputation.

Cyber criminals are known to embed malicious code into software that appears legitimate as a way to infect their targets with malware. Often, this software is pirated or available via unauthorised or unofficial sources.

The safest way to avoid downloading malicious code is to only download software from official stores.

The Microsoft Windows Store is the official online marketplace for purchasing and downloading software for Windows. For Macs and Apple iOS devices, it is Apple's App Store.

Google Play is the official online marketplaces for Android devices.

Each user account has rights to perform specific functions. In small businesses, it's often the case that all users are given full administrative rights by default. That means they have the right to install new programs, change security settings and choose personalised colour schemes and wallpapers.

Larger organisations have learned that restricting administrative access greatly reduces the number of infections and security breaches. Most users simply don't need administrative access, even if they want it.

By limiting users to the access they need, you can prevent them from disabling important settings such as security updates and require them to obtain permission before installing unapproved software.

You can usually configure these user options under the 'Settings' or 'System Preferences' menus of your devices.

Disk encryption ensures that if a computer is stolen, the thief is unable to access the data.

The only way disk encrypted-data can be accessed is if the drive is powered on and the thief has user's account login details.

Microsoft Windows' disk encryption is called Bitlocker. Microsoft provides step by step instructions for using Bitlocker on its website.

For an Apple Mac, a program called FileVault is used to protect hard drive content. Apple's instructions for using FileVault are available from Apple's support website.