Computer Security Tips

In this tutorial, we provide computer security tips and a downloadable Guide To Basic Computer Security.

Computer Security TipsThis tutorial is part of our tutorial series on WordPress Security. In the previous section of this tutorial, looked at how to keep your computer operating system up-to-date. In this tutorial, we provide computer security tips and a downloadable “Basic Guide To Computer Security”.

Please also review our WordPress Security Guide For Beginners and our free WordPress Security Checklist.

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Computer Security Tips

In addition to previous sections of this tutorial, the information below will help keep your computer devices safe and protected from hackers.

Password-protect your computer(s)

Your WordPress site can be compromised as simply and as easily as having someone access your computer and steal information containing your site’s login details.

The most basic way to keep your computer safe and protected is to require users to enter a password before being able to access your account.

To learn how to password-protect your computer, see the tutorial below:

Disable hidden filename extensions

By default, the Windows operating system is set to “hide file extensions for known file types”. Change this option so that file extensions do display in Windows. Some file extensions will, by default, continue to remain hidden, but you are more likely to see any unusual file extensions that should not be on your computer and you can then investigate further.

To enable/disable file extensions, click on the ‘Start’ button …

Computer Security

Choose ‘Control Panel’ …

Computer Security

In the ‘Control Panel’ screen, select ‘Appearance and Personalization’ …

Computer Security

Locate the ‘Folder Options’ section and click on ‘Show hidden files and folders’ …

Computer Security

In Folder Options > View tab, under ‘Advanced Settings’ find the ‘Hidden files and folders’ options and select ‘Show hidden files, folders and drives’, then click on ‘OK’ to enable this option …

Computer Security

Now, any files, folder and drives that were previously hidden will display in your computer browser screens …

Computer Security

Turn off your computer and disconnect from the network when not using the computer

A hacker cannot attack your computer when you are disconnected from the network or the computer is off.

Consider creating a system image, system repair disk and set system restore points at regular intervals

We’ve covered this earlier in the tutorial, but it’s worth repeating again. System images and repair disks are vital in case your computer is damaged or compromised by a malicious program. Obviously, you need to take these steps before you experience a hostile breach of your system.

Setting system restore points allows you to roll back your system to a previous point in time when everything was working fine (useful in case you install a program that messes up your computer).

To set a system restore point, click on Start > Computer

Computer Security

Click on ‘System properties’ …

Computer Security

In the menu section, click on ‘System protection’ …

Computer Security

In the System Properties > System Protection tab, click the ‘Create’ button to create a system restore point …

Computer Security

When the ‘System Restore’ window opens up, click on ‘Next’ …

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Enter a description for your restore point and click the ‘Create’ button …

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Your computer will begin to create a restore point …

Computer Security

Once the restore point is create successfully, a notification message will display. Click the ‘Close’ button to continue …

Computer Security

To configure your System Restore settings, repeat the above steps to get to the ‘System protection’ tab, then click on the ‘Configure’ button …

Computer Security

Configure your ‘Restore Settings’ and adjust ‘Disk Space Usage’, then click on ‘OK’ to save your settings …

Computer Security

To restore your system back to a previous restore point, repeat the above process to view the ‘System Protection’ tab, and click on ‘System Restore’ …

Computer Security

Select a restore point from the list displayed in your screen and click ‘Next’ to continue …

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Confirm your restore point and click on ‘Finish’ to complete the process …

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Your system will be restored to the state it was in previously.

Note: For best results, you should run System Restore from safe mode. If you receive an error while restoring, then restart your computer in safe mode and repeat the process and it should work fine. To get into Safe mode, reboot your computer and hold down the F8 key just before Windows starts up …

Computer Security

Lock your computer if you step away

If you are working around other people and decide to take a break from your computer, lock your computer. Even if you only step away for a few minutes, that’s enough time for someone to access your computer and destroy or steal your information. Locking your computer password-protects your session until you return and prevents anyone else from physically or remotely accessing your information …

Computer Security

Also, if you use laptops, try and keep public use and exposure to a minimum to reduce chances of device theft. Consider using a non-traditional laptop carrying case and an alarm or lock to add additional security.

If Selling Or Giving Your Computer Away …

If you plan to sell, donate, recycle or give your computer or laptop away, you should destroy all data and completely erase everything in your hard drive to ensure that no personal information can be obtained that could compromise your security.

We covered tools that can permanently destroy data on your computer in a previous tutorial (see Harden Your Computer Security).

If you want a total deletion of your hard drive (recommended if you are disposing of your computer), then you should consider using a program called Darik’s Boot and Nuke (DBAN)

DBAN

Darik’s Boot and Nuke (DBAN) is free erasure software designed for consumer use. DBAN is a self-contained boot disk that automatically deletes the contents of any hard disk that it can detect.

Using DBAN to delete everything on your hard drive can help prevent identity theft before recycling a computer. It is also a solution commonly used to remove viruses and spyware from Microsoft Windows installations. DBAN prevents all known techniques of hard disk forensic analysis.

Important

Note: Once you run the program, there is no going back …

DBAN

ImportantDBAN makes users aware of some product limitations on its site, such as a disclaimer that it cannot guarantee that data will be removed, that it does not provide users with a proof of erasure, such as an audit-ready erasure report, and that it offers limited hardware support and no customer support.

To learn how to password-protect your computer, see the tutorial below:

Some final “common sense” computer security tips …

Use separate computers for business and leisure or personal activities

If possible, avoid using the same computer that you use for business or work, for personal online banking or shopping.

Company-assigned computers can be recalled for maintenance or upgrades, leaving your data exposed to others.

Also, if you have children and you let them use your computer to visit sites they like (e.g. games), you could potentially attract spyware and other risks into your device. Have your children keep a list of any sites they visit and don’t let them register on any web sites without your permission.

Keep your work and personal life on separate computers and you will limit the amount of cookies, spyware and monitoring that can take place, as well as reduce the incidence of identity theft.

Be careful when using public computers

Avoid banking or conducting personal business on public computers at libraries, hotels, and airports. Your online activity could be intercepted or recorded, or someone may be watching your activity and remembering passwords and other personal details.

Stay informed

Subscribe to sites like the National Cyber Alert System at www.us-cert.gov …

US-CertSubscribing to trusted sites that deal with cyber security issues in a timely manner will help you stay informed and proactive when it comes to effectively protecting your home and business computers.

Basic Guide To Computer Security

Download the free Basic Guide To Computer Security below …

[sociallocker id="6498"]Download the Basic Guide To Computer Security[/sociallocker]

Next Step:

Now that you know the basics of keeping your computer device secure, the next step is to learn how to protect your computer from malicious software and software-based security threats.

To learn more about keeping your computer protected from malicious software, see the tutorial below:

Computer Security Tutorials Review …

Computer Security Tips

(Source: Pixabay)

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"This is an awesome training series. I have a pretty good understanding of WordPress already, but this is helping me to move somewhere from intermediate to advanced user!" - Kim Lednum

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How To Keep Your Computer Operating System Up-To-Date

Learn how to keep your computer operating system up-to-date.

How To Keep Your Computer Operating System Up-To-DateThis tutorial is part of our tutorial series on WordPress Security. In the previous section of this tutorial, we looked at ways to harden your computer system. In this tutorial, you will learn how to keep your computer operating system up-to-date.

Please also review our WordPress Security Guide For Beginners and our free WordPress Security Checklist.

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How To Keep Your Computer Operating System Up-To-Date

One of the main reasons why software companies and device manufacturers update their operating system software, drivers, etc. other than to fix bugs or introduce new features, is to address security vulnerabilities whenever these are discovered.

Computer Security

If you are not keeping your operating system and other important software on your computer up-to-date, then you are basically leaving your system vulnerable to attack by anyone who knows how to exploit the vulnerabilities of older software versions.

WordPress site security involves keeping computer systems up-to-date. It is important, therefore, to install all updates and apply all patches released for your operating system, web browser and computer software frequently.

Updating Your Current Operating System

If you use the Windows operating system, click on the ‘Start’ button …

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Click on ‘All Programs’ …

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From the list of programs, click on ‘Windows Update’ …

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If your system files are out of date, you will see a notification message similar to the one shown in the screenshot below. Click on the ‘Install updates’ button to install the latest updates for your computer …

Computer SecurityYou can check for updates manually, or allow Windows to perform updates automatically by clicking on ‘Change settings’ in the section’s menu …

Computer SecurityConfigure the options in this section and click on the ‘OK’ button at the bottom of the screen when finished to update your settings …

Computer Security

Upgrading To A Different Operating System

To check whether your system can be upgraded to a different operating system, click on the ‘Windows Anytime Upgrade’ link at the bottom of the ‘Windows Update’ screen …

Computer Security

You can then follow the prompts to learn about your upgrade options …

Computer Security

You can also visit the Windows Upgrade Advisor site, where you can download and install a software program that will scan your site for potential issues and advise you what to do before upgrading …

Computer Security

For more information about upgrading your computer, visit the sites below:

Next Step:

Now that you know how to keep your computer’s operating system up-to-date, the next step is to review some additional computer security tips.

For additional computer security tips, go here:

See Also …

How To Keep Your Computer Operating System Up-To-Date

(Source: Pixabay)

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"Your training is the best in the world! It is simple, yet detailed, direct, understandable, memorable, and complete." Andrea Adams, FinancialJourney.org

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How To Harden Your Computer Security

Learn how to harden computer security on multiple levels.

How To Harden Computer SecurityThis tutorial is part of our tutorial series on WordPress Security. In the previous section of this tutorial, we looked at ways of adding a physical layer of security between your computer and the internet. In this tutorial, we show you how to harden computer security.

Please also review our WordPress Security Guide For Beginners and our free WordPress Security Checklist.

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Hardening Computer Security

Hardening computer security makes your computer very difficult to break into on multiple levels.

Use the methods below to help you harden your computer against attackers:

Create A Decoy Admin

Red Herring: something that misleads or distracts from the relevant or important issue.

(Wikipedia)

If someone is trying to hack into your computer, the most likely thing they will want to do is to actively search for your admin account, as this will then give them complete control over your machine, including the ability to modify all of your device settings and access all of your data.

A quick and easy strategy that you can implement to thwart hackers, is to create a ‘decoy’ admin user.

In simple terms, you change your real admin user account to a name other than ‘admin’, and create a fake user account with limited privileges named ‘admin’ instead. This way, if someone does hack into your computer, and are able to access the fake ‘admin’ account, they will not be able to control anything, or access any of your important settings or data.

If your current administration user account is named something that is obviously associated with the ‘admin’ account (e.g. “Admin”), then the first step is to change the name of this account to something less conspicuous.

To change your admin user name, click the ‘Start’ button and choose ‘Control Panel’ …

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Select ‘User Accounts’ …

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Click ‘Add or remove user accounts’ …

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Click on the administrator account …

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Click on ‘Change the account name’ …

Computer Security

Type in a new account name for your ‘Admin’ account and click on ‘Change Name’ to update your system settings …

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Your admin account now has an inconspicuous name …

Computer Security

Now, let’s create a ‘decoy’ admin account.

Repeat the above process to get to ‘User Accounts’ > ‘Add or remove user accounts’ …

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Click on ‘Create a new account’ …

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Name this account ‘Admin’, but remember to select ‘Standard user’ for the account you are creating …

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Your new ‘admin’ decoy account is now created …

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Anyone looking at your computer would not think of trying to crack the real admin account on their first attempt, as the real admin is disguised as an ordinary user account …

Computer Security

Check Your Computer Protection Settings

The next step is to increase the built-in protection of your computer.

Microsoft Windows has a utility called msconfig (short for Microsoft System Configuration Utility) that allows computer administrators to troubleshoot system issues by disabling software and device drivers. This windows utility can also help to harden the security of your computer.

Here’s how to do it:

Click on the ‘Start’ button …

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Type msconfig into the search box and click on the link when the search returns the utility under ‘Programs’ …

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Click on the ‘Tools’ tab, then select ‘Change UAC Settings’ and click the ‘Launch’ button …

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The ‘User Account Control Settings’ screen lets you adjust the protection settings on your computer that can help prevent potentially harmful programs from making changes to your computer.

To increase the security of your computer, move the slider from ‘Never notify’ to a higher settings …

Computer Security

Moving the slider to the highest setting (‘Always notify’) provides the maximum security …

Computer Security

To learn more about what kind of protection is provided by the different settings, click on the ‘Tell me more about User Account Control settings’ link.

We have reproduced below the information you will see when you click on the utility’s information link …

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You will need to restart your computer for the changes to take effect …

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Note: If you notice your computer slowing down when you install new software programs, you can turn the protection slider all the way down before installing new software, and restore the security settings afterwards.

Check Your Computer Ports

As well as providing an interface for connecting your computer to other devices (e.g. printers, external hard drives, USB devices, etc …), computer ports identify different applications or processes running on a computer and then allow these to share a single physical connection …

Computer Security

Here is an easy way to think about computer ports: If your computer was a television, then your computer ports would be the channels. Just as you can turn on a tv and tune into hundreds of channels, you can also use different computer ports to access different processes and applications on your computer. In fact, there are over 65,000 different computer ports available.

The first 1024 ports on your computer are already assigned for specific purposes, such as email, FTP, internet access, chat applications, etc… but the rest have unspecified purposes, and can be used for things like file storage.

Ports 49152-65535 are regarded as being private, and will set off red flags if your firewall software detects any suspicious activity happening in these channels.

You can check to see which ports on your computer are open and vulnerable to hackers, using a free online tool called ShieldsUp!

Port Analyzer

Read the information on the ShieldsUp! page before using the tool, as it will help you understand how the application tests your ports. After reading the description, click on ‘Proceed’ to continue …

Computer Security

You will be presented with a number of port scanning options. Select ‘All Service Ports’ …

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The application will begin analyzing the status of your system’s first 1056 ports. If everything is okay, you will get a result as shown in the screenshot below …

ShieldsUp

To view which port each element of the grid represents, simply hover your mouse over one of the little squares …

ShieldsUp

Hardware Component Security

WiFi Card Security

If you use a laptop computer in public places (e.g. at a coffee shop), then be aware that wireless networks and WiFi hotspots are a prime source of targeting by hackers, searching for computers with unsecured connections and other security vulnerabilities.

To protect your computer from being hacked through your wireless connection, locate your WiFi card model ID and then search online to see if anyone is discussing security issues related specifically to your WiFi component.

To locate any hardware component ID, click Start > Computer

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Click on ‘System properties’ …

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Select ‘Device Manager’ …

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You will find your WiFi hardware component under ‘Network Adapters’ …

Computer Security

Disable Sharing Options

Microsoft Windows allows you to configure your computer settings to share files and applications with other computers on a home or office network.

This creates potential opportunities for hackers to infiltrate your network, view all of your system components and access your computer and/or files.

If you do not require these options to be on, you can disable them as follows:

Click on the ‘Start’ button, type ‘advanced sharing settings’ into the Windows search tool and click on ‘Control Panel’ > ‘Manage advanced sharing settings’ …

Computer Security

This brings up a screen with your network profile settings. There are two main options: ‘Home or Work’ and ‘Public’. Go through the settings in each option, and turn off any sharing options that are unnecessary (e.g. file and printer sharing) …

Computer Security

Of course, if you are on a network and do require sharing options to be available, then don’t turn these off.

At the very least, keep your account password-protected.

To learn more about password security, see the tutorial below:

Registry Protection

The registry is a database on your computer that keeps track of everything on your computing environment, like hardware, software, user profiles, settings, etc …

For example, your registry can contain records of the following information:

  • Files you have downloaded (name, type and source of files)
  • Passwords you have stored in applications
  • List of mounted storage devices
  • List of wireless networks that your computer connects to
  • etc…

Many spyware programs try to access the registry to obtain information about your computer, or to try and modify it, which can cause serious problems.

It’s a good idea, therefore, to regularly clean the registry in order to avoid having your computer information exploited by malicious users.

Registry files can be cleaned manually, but this requires some technical knowledge.

If you’re not technically inclined, then we recommend using an application like CCleaner to clean your computer registry, as any mistakes could cause your computer to seriously malfunction (or not reboot at all) …

CCleaner

CCleaner

CCleaner is a fast, versatile system optimization, privacy and cleaning tool that removes unused files from your system, allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up hard disk space. It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history, and contains a fully featured registry cleaner that makes cleaning your registry files easy.

To learn more about CCleaner, visit the site below:

Clear Cached DNS Entries

The Domain Name System (DNS) was created to make it easier for humans to reference website addresses.

For example, when we want to visit Google.com we type in an easy-to-remember web address using Google’s domain name …

Computer Security

Your computer, however, doesn’t see domain names – it only recognizes IP addresses instead! Every time you visit a website, your computer operating system actually sees the IP address.

You can visit Google’s website simply by typing in its IP address into your browser …

Computer Security

Domain names, therefore, make things convenient for humans (so you don’t have to remember a bunch of numbers every time you want to visit a website).

When you visit a website, the IP addresses of the visited sites remain on your computer. Knowing which websites you have visited can be potentially useful information for hackers, as it may reveal personal information about you.

Sophisticated hackers can retrieve information about websites that you have visited by analyzing cached DNS information.

To clear the cached DNS entries and erase this information, click on the ‘Start’ button, then type in “cmd” into the Windows search tool, and click on ‘Programs’ > ‘cmd’ …

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A terminal window like the one shown below will display …

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Type the text below into the terminal window (in the blinking cursor) …

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Type in the above command, and press the ‘Enter’ key …

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A list of all cached DNS entries will display …

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To clear the cache, type the text below into the terminal window (in the blinking cursor) …

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Type in the above command, and press the ‘Enter’ key …

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Your DNS cache will be flushed and all DNS entries will be erased. …

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Repeat this process every so often to empty out your DNS cache.

Destroy Deleted Files

Deleted files on your computer can be easily recovered if you use normal file deletion methods (e.g. right-click and select ‘delete’, or emptying out the trash), or even if you reformat your hard drive.

Normally, “deleted” files aren’t actually erased from your computer – what happens is that the entry to the file is removed so that you can no longer see it or search for it, and the entry is then marked as being available for a new file to overwrite it. Since hard drives can store so much data nowadays, however, it can take a very long time for deleted files to be overwritten. Your deleted files, therefore, will still likely exist on your drive, and any savvy computer user can retrieve these using widely available data recovery tools.

Unlike “file recovery” software that can retrieve deleted files, “file deletion” programs actually destroy data by rewriting the files with random series of binary data multiple times so that it is almost impossible to recover the file content. This process is called “shredding”.

Just as confidential information stored in old files get shredded by many businesses, so can you ‘shred’ your deleted electronic files and permanently destroy them on your disk.

Here are some file deletion programs and utilities to consider:

File Shredder

File ShredderFile Shredder is a Windows-compatible open source application. Files removed with File Shredder cannot be recovered.

File Shredder is a fast, safe and reliable tool and can be downloaded for free without restrictions for the permanent and safe removal of your confidential documents.

To learn more about File Shredder, visit the site below:

Eraser

EraserEraser is an open source advanced security tool for Windows that allows you to completely remove sensitive data from your hard drive by overwriting it several times with carefully selected patterns.

Eraser is Windows-compatible, works right out of the box and is available as a free download.

To learn more about Eraser, visit the website below:

Next Step:

Now that you know how to harden your computer security, the next step is to learn how to keep your computer operating system up-to-date.

To learn how to keep your computer operating system up-to-date, see the tutorial below:

See Also …

References

How To Harden Your Computer Security

(Source: Pixabay)

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"Your training is the best in the world! It is simple, yet detailed, direct, understandable, memorable, and complete." Andrea Adams, FinancialJourney.org

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