Sunday, July 4, 2010

Safe Computing in 2010

The world of computers run by Microsoft Windows operating systems has changed so much since I began this blog in 2008! The posts from May and June 2008 drew heavily on papers that I used with and for my customers some time earlier, mainly in 2005 through 2008.

In politically correct terms, the threat landscape has undergone major changes.

It is about time that I give an updated “digest version” of what I recommend now to keep a computer as safe as possible. Here it is.

  1. Use Open DNS.
  2. Use Firefox with AdBlock Plus and McAfee Siteadvisor add-ons. In Siteadvisor you have to turn “Highlight search results” on and turn the Safe Search function OFF; if Safe Search is on then do not use it!
  3. Use Thunderbird instead if any Microsoft email program! In Thunderbird version 3.x I recommend to use “CompactHeader” and “Extra Folder Columns” add-ons. 
  4. Never open any email attachment unless you are sure of the source and always virus scan the attachment first.
  5. Firewall:
    Please ask yourself the following two questions:
       A: Are you capable of and do you wish to learn about network ports and ow to configure firewall rules?
       B: Are you able to answer correctly lots of alerts and questions about the things in question A?
    If you say NO to either or both of above questions stick with the standard Windows firewall, period!
    If You answer Yes to both questions you may consider Outpost Free.
    If you do the latter be aware that you will be subject to “upgrade” offers to the for-pay version. User beware!
  6. If you are a self proclaimed “computer illiterate” home user then use Microsoft Security Essentials as your anti virus, anti malware and anti malvertisement (malicious advertisement) solution.

    More info from me on MSE: Go to the table of contents of this blog, find and click label “MSE” and read the articles that come up.
  7. Always ensure that your operating system and security software is updated with the latest signatures and patches. Try to use an automated function for this where one exists but don’t totally rely on any automatic update function. Check manually and regularly for updates! 

    You want to know what to update? Read this article on my blog.
  8. In Google search results: Never enter a site rated "Red" or “Yellow” by Siteadvisor. There will be 100s of other safe alternatives to choose from.
  9. Only download programs from trusted sources and still virus scan the downloaded file first before you actually use it! The IMHO most comprehensive scanning is done by VirusTotal and Jotti.
  10. Never run software from borrowed removable media without first virus scanning the content.
  11. If you lend your removable media to someone else virus check it when it comes back!
  12. If anything on or from the Internet looks like the offer of a lifetime then your online life is likely to end or at least massively change abruptly!
  13. Cracked software is only for cracked heads or people dumb enough to think differently.

I know, some of the above are harsh words, please forgive me. But they are the truth nevertheless.

As usual I welcome comments and suggestions right here in the blog. Thank you in advance.

Click here for a categorized Table Of Contents.

No comments: