How to have a secure computer

On a Windows computer, it’s very important to have good security software installed. But you shouldn’t over do it as well, because if you have too many programs installed that deal with security, your computer might slow down.

The programs that I use to make my Windows 7 computer secure include the Windows Firewall and Windows Defender. I think these applications have actually evolved quite well. I didn’t like the Microsoft security adaptations in earlier versions of Windows, but they have come a long way. If you don’t like Windows Defender, you can also use Spybot which is a great tool against Trojans and Malware. It also deals with bad cookies and all that kind of stuff. So its worth the look if you’re really concerned about security.

The Internet is a huge issue because it is used by worms and viruses. There are two components to the Internet, one is email, and the other is the Internet browser. For email, you can used a web-based tool, like Gmail, which is basically in your Internet browser. The great advantage about this is that you don’t have to download files to your computer. You can read emails online, and if they contain, for example, a PDF, you can look at that PDF right there in Google mail in the preview. You can also utilize a spam folder, and if you see a file that is not important to you, you can delete that right away.

Internet Browser

You should use an Internet browser which is safe and secure. Internet Explorer has the reputation of being notoriously bad when it comes to security. Even though there is a new version coming out soon, I don’t expect this to change for the better over the long haul. Try to use an up to date Internet browser. That can be Firefox, but Firefox to me has lost a bit of the edge it had when it first came out. It definitely is a great browser, but nowadays, I use mostly Google Chrome, which I think is kind of the new Firefox. It’s very sleek, very fast, it has a great javascript rendering engine, and in OSX I use Chrome or Safari. I don’t like using Safari on Windows for some reason. I just go with Chrome because it has better integration with it.

If you decide to use Firefox, I strongly advise you to make use of the no script plugin. This is a plugin which blocks Javascript and other scripts by default, and you need to explicitly allow them. This is great because it filters out most of the problems you can have, because Javascript is usually used to infect your computer. Flash can also be a problem, so noscript also deals with Flash.

Anti-virus Software

On Windows PCs you should also have antivirus software installed. I’ve been using the Avira free version for my personal computers. You can also use AntiVir , which is another program. Keep in mind that the free version is usually limited to non commercial use. I also use a program which is called fret fire. Basically, the normal antivirus program deals with all the known viruses, and it can detect some viruses without a signature, but it needs to know what’s out there and what it should block and look out for. The great thing about fret fire is that its a behavioral-based security program, which means that it doesn’t detect signatures of viruses, but it detects typical behavior. It can block attempts to gain access to important parts of your operating system. Those two programs together form a very good defense. Just make sure that you have put them in a way so they update regularly. If you install them, you need to allow the programs to pass the firewall.

Update Operating System

What’s very, important, and I think that is as important as installing the right tools, is that you keep your operating system updated. I strongly encourage you to have automatic updates enabled, and to not skip them but do them right away when they become available. This is very important, because, Microsoft, Apple, Ubuntu or Linux update pretty fast if there is a problem. Take care that you actually get the updates which might fix a security problem.

You also need to have all your other programs up to date. This can be a bit of a hassle since not all programs have an automatic update installed, or you might have locked the automatic update program from being active at startup. That’s something I do a lot because it can be a bother to have all those small programs for updates run in the background. But there are really good programs that check your whole computers for the version of a program installed, and they look on the Internet if there is a new version of that program. If there is a new version, they can download that new version automatically.

Act Responsibly

When it comes to security, tools can only do so much. It’s usually the human that makes a fault. That is by using insecure passwords, by writing down passwords, sending passwords through non-secure channels., telling people stuff on the phone without verifying their identity. It’s very important that you act responsibly. If you have doubts about a specific email, rather delete or ask the person who send it if they really did send it. If someone tries to chat you up on the instant messenger, I wanna send you a file, someone you do not know, well just do not answer. If a Facebook application is acting weird, try to Google it; try to see if there is a problem with it. If you are acting responsibly, and that means for example, knowing that pdf is not a safe file format, that in a PDF you can embed javascript, and that means you can also embed viruses in a PDF. Whereas someone gives you a USB stick, you need to be aware that there can be a virus on that USB stick. When you plug in the stick, you need to act responsibly with your computer.

What to do When a Virus Hits Your Computer

How do you know that there’s something wrong with your computer? A while ago that was really easy, because viruses were usually programmed in a bad way, or they have a funny message, or your computer is getting very, very slow. Nowadays, the viruses are really intelligent. If you have a virus installed on your computer, it’s probably doing some work for other people, which means it can make people a lot of money. Thus, they protect that asset. They use different tricks for that. One is to just not let you see that you have been infected.

But there are some things that you can do. Generally, if your computer is getting slower suddenly, and you haven’t installed anything, or there haven’t been any updates, or your computer setup hasn’t changed, then something is happening. But like I mentioned before, you don’t see that so often nowadays. Viruses and Trojan horses, they have much higher quality now. So you don’t see that as much.

Another thing that you can watch for is Internet connection and hard drive activity. Of course there can also be a lot of other reasons for Internet connectivity or hard drive activity, but if you’re seeing that for no reason you’re computer’s idle, that your Internet connection is on and it’s blinking a lot like it’s transferring data, then something could be wrong. Or if suddenly, without having scheduled automatic defragmentation, or a virus scan, your hard drive is doing lots of work, that could also be an indication that you have a program in your computer which doesn’t belong there. Last it could also be that security programs crash. The new generation of viruses tries to defend themselves against anti virus programs, which might mean that they crash or that they cant access specific files. If you see that happening, also be aware of what’s going on in your computer.

Wrap Up

So this has been a lot on security. Basically, let me all wrap that up. What do I think is the best and most secure way to work on a computer with Microsoft Windows? Have Microsoft Windows 7 installed. It’s much better than XP or Vista. Run the 64 bit version of Windows 7 with any virus program, fret fire, Windows Defender, and the Firewall. Use Google Chrome as your standard browser, and also use it to read emails. Use Google Docs for writing documents and stuff. Also use it for looking at PDFs. That way, I think, you’re pretty safe. What can you do when you get hacked or if you have a virus? You can prepare beforehand; have a second installation on your computer with a Linux on it. You can then use that Linux installation, boot from that installation, and then check what’s wrong with your Windows. It’s very hard to infect the Linux system. If you haven’t done that, you could have a friend or colleague download a Linux distribution from the Internet that is specifically geared to disinfect computers. At least you might get access to your files and save the important ones. Often times, I think it’s better to completely reinstall your operating system after you had a virus.

Yeah, so that’s pretty much it. I hope you like that post. This is not really the technical version of how to have the most secure computer but I think if you follow these tips in your daily work, this will help you to have a more stable working environment, and that will help your computer to be a lot more stable. This is going to be a must read article for all my employees from now on, because I’ve met many people that spread the viruses in word documents or in other files. If you’re actually depending on your computer for income, you want that thing to work, and you don’t want to have no income for a week or something, until you can get your computer fixed.

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