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Basic Computer Security
Basic Computer Security
- Switch on Automatic Updates of the operating system. This will cause Windows or Mac OS to automatically download (at regular intervals) operating system bug fixes and other improvements. N.B. Check every few months that Automatic Update is actually working. In Windows, you can see updates in the Control Panel under “Add or Remove Programs”. There is a chance that your ISP or government is blocking such updates, or that the update mechanism itself has got into a confused state.
- Switch on the built-in Firewall, or install a software Firewall program. (Both Windows and Mac OS have built-in firewalls, but if you want a better one, install one.)
- Good, free (for non-commercial use), software Firewall programs are: Comodo, Outpost, Kaspersky, etc. N.B. Make sure you’re installing from the company’s real website (see Web Surfing Security).
- Good non-free software Firewall programs are: Norton, McAfee, Symantec, etc.
- If you installed a Firewall program, configure it to self-update.
- Install an Anti-Virus program. N.B. Installing more than one Anti-Virus program can cause problems, so only install one.
- Good free (for non-commercial use) Anti-Virus programs are: Antivir, AVG, Microsoft Security Essentials, etc. N.B. Make sure you’re installing from the company’s real website (see Web Surfing Security).
- Good non-free Anti-Virus programs are: Norton, McAfee, etc.
- Configure the Anti-Virus program to self-update.
- Configure all other programs to self-update, e.g. Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash, Apple iTunes, Java Virtual Machine, etc.
- Check now to see if your computer is infected with the Conficker Worm, and if so, seek immediate professional help to remove it.
- Make sure that your computer’s users all have strong passwords (see Password Security).
- Make sure your Computer’s Description does not contain any private information, e.g. your password, phone number, date of birth, home or work address, credit card number, etc. The “Computers Description” is in the “Control Panel” under “System” in the “Computer Name” tab.
- Switch on Data Execution Prevention (DEP) for all programs on your computer. (This switch is under: Control Panel / System / Advanced / Performance Settings / Data Execution Prevention.)
- If some programs start crashing, seriously consider not using them. If you really need to use some programs that cant handle DEP, then add those programs (only) as DEP exceptions.
- Do not install software of dubious origin, i.e. do not install software that comes from any country listed on the Wikipedia page Democracy Index as an “Authoritarian regime”. Reasoning: Software from non-democratic countries often contains government-sanctioned spyware that’s used by the government to spy on their own people and anyone else in any other country who is naive enough to install the software.
- Consider adding “Open program” and “Close program” sounds to your system (if they’re aren’t some configured already). Under Windows, these are in the “Control Panel” under “Sounds and Audio Devices”.
Reasoning: The “Open program” sound will play any time that a program starts running. The “Close program” sound will play any time that a program stops running. If you’re sitting there reading a document or not using your computer and you hear an “Open program” or “Close program” sound, then investigate it using the “Task Manager” – your computer may have a virus, trojan, or worm, etc. You should make these sounds short and quieter than normal, otherwise they may drive you crazy during system startup and shutdown.
Here are some quiet super-short Open and Close sounds you may want to download. They’re only 150 milliseconds long:
- No matter whether you’re at the office, or at home, or at an internet bar, do not leave your screen unlocked when going to the bathroom or kitchen or leaving your computer for more than 10 seconds. If you’re leaving your computer switched on overnight in your office, also make sure the screen is locked, and save all important documents before going home. Corporate espionage is becoming more and more common.
- If your computer contains highly sensitive information (e.g. private business or personal information), you may want to prevent physical access to your computer by keeping it inside a locked room (at home or in your office). Also when staying in a hotel, always take your laptop with you whenever you go out, or take your hard drive out of the computer and take it with you whenever you go out.
- Advanced: In Windows, disable access to the DOS window (cmd.exe).
- Advanced: In Windows, disable access to the Registry Editor (regedit.exe).
|Copyright © 2009 Andrew White||Created: 12 Aug 2009|
|Page authored by Andrew White||Updated: 26 Aug 2019|
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