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Wednesday, 10 July 2013 12:00

Easy Steps to Help Protect Your Home Computer

Written by Tim Cotterill
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While there is no guaranteed protection from Malware, there are several preventative measures that you can enforce on your home computer to dramatically decrease your chances of becoming infected. Following are some simple steps to make your home computer more secure. While there is no single step that you can take to prevent all threats, combining the steps below will help you build a bigger shield against them.

1. Connect to a Secure Network

  • Once your computer is connected to the internet, it’s also connected to millions of other connected computers.
  • Connect via a Router instead of directly to your modem. Most modems offer no level of security. If you don’t have a router, they can be purchased from most electronics stores at a minimal cost. Contact your service provider if you are uncertain about what they have provided you.
  • Personalize the settings in your router. At a minimum you should change the following settings in your router. Consult your routers user’s guide for more information.
  1. Configure the wireless network to use WPA2-AES encryption for data confidentiality.
  2. Change the default login username, if permitted (refer to the user’s guide), and password. (The default passwords are published in manufacturer’s publications and are readily accessible.)
  3. Change the default wireless SSID. 

2. Enable and Configure your Firewall

  • A firewall can control the flow of information between your computer and the Internet similar to a router. Most modern operating systems include a software firewall.

3. Install and Use Antivirus and Antispyware Software

4. Remove Unnecessary Software

  • Intruders attack your computer by exploiting software vulnerabilities (that is, flaws or weaknesses), so the less software you have installed, the fewer avenues for potential attack.
  • Check the software installed on your computer. If you don’t know what a software program does and don’t use it, research it to determine whether it’s necessary. Remove any software you feel isn’t necessary after confirming the software is safe to be removed.
  • Remember, if you do not use the software it is probably not updated.

5. Disable Nonessential Services

  • Nonessential services increase the opportunities for attack. (i.e. file sharing and print sharing).

6. Never use Administrative Privileges for Day to Day Activities (Principle of Least Privilege)

  • In most instances of a malware infection, the malware can operate only under the rights of the logged-in user. To minimize the impact do not log in with a user account that holds administrative rights for day to day activities. Only log in as an administrator when you need to install or remove software or change system settings on the computer.
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_least_privilege

7. Apply Software Updates and Enable Future Automatic Updates

  • This is probably one of the most important guidelines to follow.
  • Software vendors release updates to patch or fix vulnerabilities in their software. Intruders can exploit these bugs to attack your computer, keeping your software updated is important to help prevent infection.
  • When you install new software always enable automatic updates if it is offered. This will ensure your software is always updated, and you won’t have to remember to do it yourself.
  • Another important update is your operating system. Many operating systems and software have options for automatic updates so why not use it.
  • Only download software updates directly from a vendor’s website or designated site for your vendor.

There are several websites that are very informative when it comes to keeping your computer safe from Malicious Software. I would recommend visiting website for US Computer Emergency Response (US-Cert) to stay up to date on the most recent threats.www.us-cert.gov.com

If you feel that you may have already been affected with Malware please visit http://www.malwarehelp.org/symptoms-of-infection.htmlfor a list of common symptoms. Additionally, there are several free Malware scanners on the market but I usually stick with the ones that are trusted by your operating system. Below are links to Malware scanners for both Windows and Mac.

Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP

http://www.microsoft.com/security/scanner/en-us/default.aspx

MAC OS

http://www.clamxav.com/

 

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Tagged under Malware Prevention, Computer Security

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