Antivirus alone won't save you. Here's how to do security better

A Google security research paper published last week detailed the best safety practices that hundreds of security experts recommend. Antivirus software wasn't at the top of the list.

Is there anything more dreadful than seeing this annoying, yellow pop-up on your screen?

Most of the time you're tempted to just ignore it or keep delaying the inevitable restart. But allowing those updates to roll in and those patches to be applied might be one of the best security practices you can follow.

Major banks like JP Morgan, and healthcare providers like Anthem, have all suffered hacks in the past 12 months. It shouldn't be a surprise that government agencies are targeted, but even movie studios aren't immune.

The good old fashioned techniques for keeping data protected and networks safe just aren't working anymore. If major companies and governments can suffer catastrophic hacks and data leaks, what luck do the rest of us have?

Though we trust a lot of our data in the hands of others, we can do a lot to protect ourselves.

A Google security research paper published last week detailed the best safety practices that hundreds of security experts recommend. At the top of the list, users should install software updates, and use unique passwords for each site.

"Patch, patch, patch," said one expert, according to the study. That's because software updates help patch holes and flaws in software, preventing hackers from getting in and grabbing data.

"Software updates, for example, are the seatbelts of online security; they make you safer, period," said Google's Iulia Ion, Rob Reeder, and Sunny Consolvo in the post.

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That's in stark contrast to what many think will keep themselves safe. From the poll, ordinary web users think antivirus software will protect against most malware threats. Aside from recent tests which show that many antivirus products aren't that good to begin with, software updates can prevent exploitable malware from getting through in the first place.

Security experts also recommend using strong passwords in conjunction with a password manager. According to one expert, "Password managers change the whole calculus because they make it possible to have both strong and unique passwords."

Meanwhile, two-factor authentication, which forces users to check their phone or an email account for a code when logging in also lands on the list.