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General tips

Discussion in 'Computer Security' started by rolygate, Dec 6, 2010.

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  1. rolygate

    rolygate Forum Manager Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Supporting member
    Sep 24, 2009
    ECF Towers
    Whatever is stated, someone will have an opposite opinion, but these tips have proven effective.

    Don't use Internet Explorer
    IE has always been the least-secure browser, and many web pros regard IE6 as the worst webapp ever produced. Improvements have been made but there are two important factors that mean IE is a poor choice:
    1. Despite the fact that all webapps have exploits, normally patched as soon as they are found, the fact remains that vast numbers of web attacks target IE due to its known vulnerabilities, the fact that exploits are patched late and some users don't upgrade, and the fact that IE users are likely to be the least aware about web security issues of any user group. Only a tiny fraction of web attacks target other browsers, for these reasons and others.
    2. As stated, all webapps, including all browsers, have exploits. However, properly-run projects such as Firefox patch these exploits within days and sometimes within hours of their discovery. IE consistently lags and it is not uncommon for IE exploits to remain unpatched for months. Unless you have the latest version of the browser (IE8), with the latest patch, you are at risk; and since we are talking about IE here, there may be exploits as yet unpatched.

    IE is the single most common route for infections to enter the PC. Experienced users install something like Firefox or Opera, set that as the default browser, and block IE at the firewall so it cannot dial out.

    Don't use Outlook Express
    OE, as against Outlook - a different app with a similar name - is one of the most vulnerable email clients and has little or no defence against some email attacks. It is a common route for malware getting onto a PC. Use a more secure app such as Outlook or Thunderbird.

    If you use OE you better have a really good antivirus as it will be working overtime. Thunderbird stops many of these attacks before they get started.

    Don't use crapware
    'Crapware' is a generic name for the sort of programs that come as trial apps on a new PC. They are only there because the PC builder gets a commission if you upgrade & purchase the app. They certainly aren't there because of their quality or efficacy. The best thing you can do when buying a new PC is to remove them, and one way is to run the PC Decrapifier utility. If it won't remove a crapware app then be very careful how you go about removing it, as Decrapifier is a very safe app to use and it knows when not to remove something due to unseen issues. For example McAfee is a known problem, you need to back up and set a restore point before removing it as it is poorly coded and hard to remove without issues.

    Don't confuse advertising with quality. The big names everyone knows are not necessarily any better than the other rubbish out there. The key is benchmarking.

    New PCs
    Actually the best thing you can do with a new PC is to wipe it clean and start afresh. The crapware, and the inefficient backup partitions, manufacturer's backups, and ongoing backup routines are the reasons PCs can actually be slower now in practice than older PCs. Experienced users with a discrete Windows installer disc, and knowledge of where to obtain all the drivers needed, wipe their new PCs by deleting the partitions and reinstalling Windows plus the drivers. They will know how to run disk images with Acronis or Macrium, set restore points, and have a data backup app installed and running on a schedule. Such users have a large external USB disk (or three) to backup to.

    However this is a radical step for an inexperienced user as you will need a proper Windows disc and access to the drivers, to reinstall a clean new OS. We don't advise this except for those who understand the consequences. Others may be better off simply running PC Decrapifier, although the PC will never achieve its best potential speed.

    Use benchmarked security apps
    Computer software and hardware has the tremendous benefit of being more extensively tested than almost any other consumer product, and the information is out there for you to read. In addition there are even free alternatives that in many cases are better in some respects than the heavily-advertised commercial items (think Firefox, Linux, Thunderbird, and so on). And one area they are almost always better in is security - open-source software is generally more secure than commercial software because the global developer community is both better at the job and far more transparent.

    Check the reviews and benchmarks at places like Gizmo's Freeware and Matousec before you install (or leave installed) anything on your computer. You'll find there are far better options available for free than the crapware that comes with your PC. It is almost impossible for anything installed on a new PC to be in the Top Ten apps in their field, and there are going to be many better options, often free. Check the reviews and see.

    Linux and Mac
    PCs running Linux, and Macs, are more secure than Windows PCs for 2 reasons:
    1. Linux and MacOS are *NIX operating systems, that is, they derive from the Unix OS, which is more secure than Windows. Nevertheless there are exploits and malware that specifically attack Linux and MacOS - so don't think you are totally safe if you have a Mac, there are of course specific Mac viruses, and Linux has its own exploits. In fact one was found recently that affected every single version of Linux ever built as it was a core vulnerability in the Linux kernel, and every Linux server everywhere had to be patched - and that's 60 or 65% of all the servers out there. Some may still be unpatched of course.
    2. Because Windows PCs are 95% of the market, almost all attacks are against them. This is because it's much more efficient to target 95% of computers for the work input needed. In addition, Linux users are likely to be more security aware than the average Windows user so attacks are less likely to succeed. Mac users in general are likely to be even less computer literate than Windows users, but the OS is more secure. A percentage of Mac users are very capable but that's a small percentage, going by experience of general office users. Many hackers and crackers use a Mac of course, mainly to ensure their code doesn't work against them on their own computer.
  2. phamhongnhung
    This message by phamhongnhung has been removed from public view. Deleted by a moderator, Sep 10, 2013, Reason: Photo spam.
    Sep 10, 2013
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