Computer Security Best Practices

What not How

I think the first step to understanding computers is learning what you can do.
Then you can decide if you want to do it and how to do it.
This page is more "what to do" rather than "how to" or "why you should do it".
Feel free to ask me questions.

If you do nothing, they will come.

Computers go bad by default.

You will accumulate shortcuts, cookies, homepages, browser toolbars, start programs, TSRs, bloatware, malware...
And some of these things feed on each other and form a hideous symbiotic relationship and botnets and stuff.
Your computer and internet will slow to a crawl.
Just sayin'.

Secure vs. convenient

If you build a wall and moat around your castle, you will keep people out, but it will be harder for you to get out.

Some common risky behaviors:

Keeping credit cards online for autopay
Using credit cards instead of PayPal
Letting your browser or operating system remember (save) passwords
Keeping a password list on your computer
Staying logged in to websites all the time
Logging into stuff at public wi-fi hotspots
Leaving your interent on all the time
Using Internet Explorer

Don't trust your computer.

Computer security is so complex, you will prolly get hacked.

Use the strongest passwords you can.

If you don't use a password often enough to memorize it...
...make it random and long instead of something easy to memorize, and keep it in a password manager.

Protect your email.

1. You use your email as a username on a site.
2. Someone hacks your email.
3. The hacker can reset your password on the site where you use the email as a username.

Don't trust an email you get from someone you know.
An infected email account can email its contacts.

Don't click on links in email, facebook or websites before checking the link target.


A clickable link can say anything.

The link may say amazon.com...
...but will take you to badsite.com.

Don't click shortened links like http://bit.ly/GVBQJS...
...before checking them at http://unshorten.it/ or a similar site.

How to check the link target on a desktop computer:

...hover on the link to display the link target in the status bar at the bottom of your browser.

The .com part is the important part.


Keep your operating system and software up-to-date.

Some software updaters I've used:

Patch My PC
FileHippo App Manager

If you don't need a software, get rid of it.

Router security

Check these router settings.

If your router's manufacturer no longer releases firmware updates for your router...

...buy a new router.
...or install 3rd-party firmware.

Here is another heading.

Don't download torrents.
Back stuff up.
Scan for malware weekly.

I use(d) free versions of these:

Chrome browser

ScriptBlock... Script blocker
Vanilla Cookie Manager... Cookie blocker
Adblock... Ad blocker

Firefox browser

noScript... Script blocker
Adblock Plus... Ad blocker

Software updaters:

Patch My PC
FileHippo App Manager

Avast... Anti-malware
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware
Comodo Firewall
Web of Trust... Website ratings
password manager (There's lots of password managers available)
Cobian Backup

Consumer Reports on security: