Honey Is Made From Dead Bees

… and other insights into the world from Daftspaniel

Top Thirty Security Tips

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As as software developer, I have spent a good part of each project I have been on considering and implement security. I realised looking after an on-line life is in some ways more complex than writing the security for business critical software packages! So I sat down with the intention of writing a ‘Top Ten’ of tops to share. I was soon at 12 and reaching 30 was not too difficult. These tips are in no particular order and are a mix of good practice, software and technical tips.
Final word before the tips, do not be too afraid of using a computer! The internet is a great resource and should be used and enjoyed by everyone. The reward is well worth the risk.
  1. Turn the firewall in your router to ON if it has one. You may need to look at the manual for how to do this but this will protect all devices on your network (games consoles, laptops, pcs, phones, tablets, iPods etc).
  2. Ensure that each computer you use online has a firewall up and running. Windows has a built-in firewall which is non-intrusive and effective.
  3. Use LastPass to manage and generate your online Passwords.
  4. Listen to the Security Now podcast and keep up to date.
  5. Windows Users can install Microsoft Security Essentials for free. This is a complete virus scanner and much less annoying and intrusive than other free systems. The webpage includes a video tutorial.
  6. Use PSI to inspect your system and keep all your software up to date.
  7. Install software updates when possible – for most people this will be Windows Update.
  8. Stay away from questionable sites where malicious software lives (pirated and cracked software, ‘warez’, porn, pirated media).
  9. Use software installed from trusted sources only e.g. Snapfiles.
  10. Ensure all User accounts on your PC have good passwords that are not in the dictionary or easily guessed.
  11. Do not open strange email attachments – especially viral jokes. You can live the rest of your life without seeing that funny monkey or some crazy photographs.
  12. Backup your system with an automatic online service such a Dropbox.
  13. Ensure your home wireless network requires a key to join.
  14. Never ever give your password to anyone no matter how convincing the email, telephone call or person at the door. If you give the password to anyone ( even a trusted repair professional), change the password afterwards.
  15. Take care of USB sticks that travel around – ensure they are scanned regularly.
  16. Use Paypal so that your credit card information is not exposed to multiple websites.
  17. Cover your webcam physically if not is use – more cases of voyeuristic spying are being reported. This includes software that secretly turns your camera on. Even it the little light is off, it may be taking an image.
  18. Do not share passwords between purposes e.g. email and a shopping account as this makes it easier to break in if one is discovered.
  19. Be aware of scams that suggest you need to pay for a fix for Virus or Malware on your PC – no legitimate security company works this way.
  20. Use OpenDNS which is free, speeds up your web access and protects from harmful sites (plus has a configurable Family Shield filter).
  21. Consider keeping business and home PCs separate. If a computer does not need to be connected to the Internet then it is much safer. Similarly if information does not need stored on a networked computer or device, then do not put it there.
  22. If any website is asking for personal information, ensure the address bar says ‘https://’.
  23. Log out and Switch off if your computer is not being used – the less exposure, the less risk.
  24. Buy an external hard driver (or NAS drive) to back up your files. Even if you have online storage, a local backup is still a good idea.
  25. You have little control over Public Computers such as in a library or cafe. Do not enter any login information unless you have to and ensure you log out before you leave.
  26. Do not connect to a wireless network if you do not know who it belongs to. Be especially suspicious if it does not require a password.
  27. If you use web mail, ensure you can access it using a ‘https://’ secure web address – check the address bar.
  28. Consider the web browser you are using – many consider Firefox or Chrome to be more secure.
  29. Always ensure children are supervised when online and keep computers in a shared public space.
  30. If using a laptop or other device in a public place (e.g. Hotels, Airports or Cafes) ensure that is is up to date and your chosen security software is enabled.

Do you have any tech tips or just some common sense advice? Please leave a comment!


Written by daftspaniel

July 31, 2010 at 8:05 am

One Response

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  1. Buy a mac, or run linux and you don’t have to worry about 12 of those tips ;]

    (some gems in there, will need to have a little look at some of my use cases)


    August 3, 2010 at 9:56 am

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