Computer Security Notes

This page lists some simple tips for keeping your home computer safe. There are also some links to useful web pages.

Be informed

Learn a bit about your computer and internet security. A good site for this is Netsafe. Other sites are ConnectSmart, StaySmartOnline, Tools for a safer PC, CyberSmart, Wikipedia, about.com, CERT, Schneier, Krebs, Cluley.

Backup your data

Regularly backup your data to a separate device. And it is a good idea to keep a copy at a separate location. This also helps recover from physical disasters such as fire, flood, theft, etc.

In some ways, this is the most important of all the protections listed here. The others can fail, and when they do, you will need your backup to restore your system. Software can be replaced, but invariably your data is not replacable.

Update software

Ensure that software updates are installed for your operating system and for the software that you use. Usually the operating system and some software will automatically check for updates. For some software, you might have to manually check.

Passwords

Use strong passwords, and use a different password for each website. In particular, use strong and different passwords for your email and for any websites involving money. Read these password dos and donts and check how secure is your password?

It can be difficult keeping track of all those passwords, so consider using a password manager (such as PasswordSafe, KeePass, RoboForm. etc). If you are using a password manager in your browser, use one with a master password (such as Firefox).

Don't give your username and password to anyone, not even your bank.

Home network

Set wifi passphrase (WPA2), set the SSID and change the default admin password.

Disable remote admin access (should be off by default).

Browser extensions

Browser plugins and extensions like Adblock+ and noscript can stop malware distributed as advertising.

Email safety

Be careful when you click on links in emails, even if they come from people you know.

Be wary of email attachments.

Be wary of anything urgent or too good to be true.

Social media

Watch what you post on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, forums, etc.

Check your privacy settings on these sites.

Antivirus

Used to detect Windows malware, but it can only find stuff it already knows about.

Keep definition files up to date.

Windows XP

Windows XP is well past due for retirement, but here are some tips if you want to keep it working.