Locking Down Windows 7: Security Essentials

Mikey G Ottawa - Internet - Good Or Bad I was reading an article titled The State of PC Security (posted by PC Pitstop) and noticed something rather interesting: of over 50,000 computers analyzed twenty five percent had no security software installed. Assuming a representative sample of the Windows install base, that’s a fairly significant amount of people running around with unsecured computers. PC Pitstop provides services which give users information about their computers and provides suggestions for improvement. This is a little worrisome, given one would assume that people visiting the PC Pitstop website are probably biased towards having at least a bit of technology knowledge. Much like leaving your house with the door wide open, this seems rather reckless.

With that in mind, I’ve set out to put together some suggestions on what to do to secure your fancy new Windows 7 PC:

Initial Steps:

1) Run windows update and patch any and all security vulnerabilities (accessible on your start menu)

2) Install your anti-virus of choice (I strongly suggest the free Microsoft Security Essentials)

3) Install Spybot Search and Destroy, update the program, and run the “immunization” to block potentially unsafe sites and cookies.

4) Run Secunia Personal Software Inspector to find vulnerabilities in your system, and follow the steps to fix them (by installing updates mostly)

5) Install some firewall solution – I use a router at home, so this is less of an issue (hardware firewall), but if you’re connecting directly to the net (or using some public hotspot) I’d strongly suggest a product such as Comodo Firewall.

6) Ensure your windows account has a password set (7 characters and up, letters and numbers).

7) Install an alternative web browser such as  Google Chrome or Firefox – no point putting your machine at risk running Internet Explorer. If you must run Internet Explorer, run it “sandboxed”, so it can’t harm the rest of your system, through something like Sandboxie.

Weekly Suggestions:

1) Run a Malwarebytes Anti-Malware scan (Spybot cited above can also do it, but I have far more faith in the Malwarebytes offering)

2) Only partially security related, but run CCleaner to clean out old cache files and miscellaneous crud files – you never know.

With these steps in mind, your machine should be quite a bit safer than the quarter of users who choose not to run any anti-virus program on their machine.

Syd

Header Image Courtesy of Mikey G Ottawa – Internet Good Or Bad? / CC BY 2.0

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Author: sylint

I'm a business analyst, working in Information Management and Information Technology. Technically, I'm a librarian, though I prefer to think of myself as professionally varied.

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