Introduction to Windows Home PC Security.
List of Tips and Tricks.
Information compiled by Advait aka Tom Childers, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.advaitom.info.
This is my "Big List" of PC security reminders, tips and tricks. There's also a "Short List" here which lists the most important security tips. If you see something on one of the lists that needs correcting or improvement, please let me know.
From 2000 to 2007 I was the system administrator for a small Windows server based network. During my time as a sys admin, computer security was slowly becoming a bigger and bigger issue. We had quite a bit of sensitive data on our servers and client PCs so I had to start learning how to keep them secure from the growing threat. Back in 2005 I started listening to the “Security Now” podcast
with Steve Gibson. That stirred my interest in security even more and I began researching and learning all I
could about keeping Windows PCs safe and secure. And I discovered that I really enjoy doing the research.
I know Windows home version (Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7). I've been working on computers since 1986 (back before Windows existed!) I haven't worked with Macs so I don't know anything about them. I've also installed and set up Ubuntu Linux on a number of different computers, and use it on my own PC. Ubuntu is the easy way to stay really safe when going online and browsing to your banking and financial web sites. An Ubuntu Live CD or Ubuntu on a USB stick are especially easy to use.
To be honest, I don't think someone can be really safe when browsing with Windows. The hackers are just too smart and pounding way too hard on Windows. Microsoft is trying valiantly and hard to secure Windows, but they're losing the war. And very few of the companies that make software apps for Windows are truly serious about security.
Windows 8 is doing some very good things to be more secure. Do a google search for "Windows 8 security features" to get more details.
Some of the things not covered in this list are Windows Home Server and home web hosting. These are things a more advanced home user would get into. I'm sure that doing these types of things opens up all kind of security holes.
Keeping a Windows home PC secure is easy compared to properly securing a corporate, university or government network. Its all I can do to try and stay on top of Windows home security. To properly secure even a small network of computers and servers takes a lot of knowledge and experience.
I've learned that staying current with Windows Home PC security takes constant diligence. New security threats and new protection techniques are arising every day. In addition to the "Security Now" podcast, I listen to other security podcasts and subscribe to numerous security blogs. To stay on top of security for your own Windows home computer you need to get geeky. The basic things like using anti-virus, firewall etc are just the beginning. To stay really safe a person would have to dive into more technical details. I do it cause I really enjoy it, but I'm guessing few people get pleasure doing technical research on keeping Windows secure. Maybe one day the internet and computers will evolve to where they are inherently safe, but it seems we're a long way away from that promised land.
I compare it to when cars first started being sold around 1905 or whenever it was. Back then, if you owned a car, you also had to be a good mechanic cause the cars would break down every 20 miles. With properly maintained modern cars you can often drive them for reliably with few problems for up to 200,000 miles or more.
I did not include all the gory details for each of the items on this list. That would have taken more time and effort than I have available. For all of the items on this list you're encouraged to research them further on the net to get all the details. If you're not a geek and you really want to make your Windows home computer more secure, try to find a trustworthy geeky friend who can implement the changes recommended here. There are a lot of good geeks out there, but not every geek takes a special interest in security. Even today I'll meet really smart geeks who say “You don't need to worry about all that security stuff on Windows. Just run some anti-virus and a firewall and you'll be fine.” Good anti-virus and firewalls will help, but to make Windows really secure you need to do and know a lot more.
the way I really stay secure is to not use Windows at all when I go
to my bank's website. Now I use Ubuntu installed on an external hard drive, and I boot up from this whenever I need to do any kind of online financial transaction or purchase.