Securing your Computer

I get asked from time to time to about “How to secure a computer”. Here are some simple tips to get you started.

Run “Shields UP” by the Gibson Research Corporation

First go to this website and run “Shields Up”, you don’t have to download anything it runs as a web page.

See https://www.grc.com/x/ne.dll?bh0bkyd2 if that link doesn’t work click this http://www.grc.com/default.htm and scroll down to “Hot Spots” and you will see “Shields Up”.

“Shields Up” probes your computer and scans all of your ports and lets you know which ones are open to hackers, snoopers, and all kinds of folks who want to get onto your PC.

Click “Proceed” and then click “All Service Ports” and let it do it’s thing. It will tell you which ports are open (vulnerable) and ways to close them. Ideally yours will be all green (closed), but that’s hard to do sometimes. You will get a screen that looks like the screen below when the test is finished. Something good to do is to turn off “ping” so people searching for computers to hack into have a harder time locating your machine because it won’t answer.

grc

The Windows Firewall

firewall

Make sure you have the Windows Firewall enabled unless you have a virus program such as Semantic that might disable it (because it provides firewall features).

You can find the Firewall in the “Control Panel”. Notice mine is set as “On”. Also, look in the Exceptions tab and see what programs are allowed to send data out.

Sometimes you’ll find strange programs in there or programs with blank titles, these could be keystroke recorders that record your passwords if you have viruses on your machine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

AVG – A Free Virus Scanner

AVG is a free Virus Scanner, if you don’t have one I strongly urge you to use this virus scanner. It runs all the time as well and will even catch bad web pages trying to do cross scripting and other bad things.

You can download it HERE.

avg

Notice the “Update Now” button, from time to time you should click on this and it will pull down all of the latest virus signatures to look for. You can set this up to scan nightly or click “Computer Scanner” and run a full or partial scan whenever you want to.

Windows Updates

Assuming you’re running Windows you should at least install the critical security updates. You can get the updates from your “Start” then “All Programs” menu. This will search for all updates that apply to your computer based on your version of Windows and installed programs. I always choose “Custom” and pick and choose which updates I want, it’s a good rule of thumb to install the latest security patches.

Advice

Don’t download and install screen savers, games, or internet toolbars. If you look at the top of your Internet Explorer browser and have all kinds of third party toolbars that’s bad. You can disable those and most of the time even uninstall them.

I realize these can be technically challenging but see what you can do …

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Comments on: "Securing your Computer" (5)

  1. Thank You for the valuable technical advice Mr C; a few questions arise sucah as will ping be shown as a feature during the clean up, do I need to search for it? Is AVG better than Norton security wise as I have several months left on my subscription.

  2. sorry for the typos I have become somewaht dyslexic and don’t catch it sometimes. I know that is why we have spell check and I should use it more often.

  3. Hi MCS… long time.
    You’re a “techy” just like me.
    I will look into Shield Up. I probably need it. Thanks for the suggestion.

    Wanted to make one comment regarding AVG – I installed it before and I found that it brought my PC to a crawl. Literally. It was so bad that I uninstalled it did a system restore to revert back to the old registry.

    I now have Norton AV 2010 (not 360) which has been totally re-written from the prior year. It’s now slim, fast, and very efficient and only adds 3 running processes. Another good AV I use is Eset’s NOD32.

  4. Also the McAffee Security Suite that contais firewall and anti virus is good. I used to hate McAfee but they’re much better now, Another AV/FW combo that’s good is AVAST.

  5. Hi Mr. Common Sense. Need some direction if you would please. Over at birdmites whare I first started for support on this bug problem. Well I keep getting spam hacked. I guess all I did last time was not enough. Some gal got spam hacked first and than a week later I did and now again. Thithly adds and stuff. What can I do to stop this from happening again?? Please help. Thank you.

    In Light Lynn

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