Essential Security Checklist
(Download Computer Security PDF for detailed instructions.)
Here is a list of the steps you should take to protect your computer and your personal information. If you want more details about any of these steps, or need advice from a small business perspective, please download the full Computer Security PDF document on this site.
Take These Steps NOW!
1, 2, 3) Windows Computers: Run antivirus, antispyware, and a software firewall, (such as Bitdefender’s Internet Security, Avast! Internet Security, or McAfee Internet Security.)
4) Mac Computers: Run Mac versions of Antivirus software: Bitdefender, ESET, or Sophos.
5) Backup your Data (regularly!) (Try the online CrashPlan, Acronis, or Carbonite. Or use external hard drive with Acronis.)
6) Keep your Operating System and other software updated (e.g. "Windows Update").
- Remove unnecessary software from your computer as it opens up security holes. Especially: remove Adobe Flash and Java if you can. If they are absolutely needed, then keep them updated!
7) Add a hardware firewall for home Internet connection. Change all hardware passwords.
If you are especially security conscious, then please see my document on "Secure Routers for Home and Small Businesses".
8) Wireless networking: do wireless encryption (WPA2) and change password on wireless access point/router.
Other Critical Items
9) Be very careful when using public WiFi; only connect to known providers. You should use a VPN if doing banking, online purchases, or sending personal information in a public location.
10) Use strong passwords for all online accounts (especially financial ones) and
- DON'T use the same password for all your accounts (see suggestions for creating strong passwords).
- Use a program that encrypts your passwords, such as RoboForm, KeePass, LastPass, or Dashlane.
11) Take care of physical security of devices, especially in public locations
Be Smart Online - Very Important Security Considerations
Remember, YOU (your actions) are the most vulnerable aspect of a completely secure computer. :-)
12) DON'T open attachments in email from people you don't know! And be cautious about email attachments from people you do know, especially if you are not expecting an attachment.
13) Understand Phishing and don't fall for it; e.g. your bank will NEVER ask for your password!
14) The greatest single attack vector, even for the Mac computer, is your web browser. Consider using a script blocking program: Google’s Chrome with uBlock Origin or Firefox with the NoScript plug-in (or the one that comes with Kaspersky's Internet Security).
15) Don't believe a website pop-up that tells you that you have a virus, an outdated program, and urges to you "click here" to scan/clean/update. Use your already-installed, trusted antivirus program.
16) Consider the answers you use to password recovery services (i.e. "Forgot your password?). Consider lying for any site that does NOT need to know that truth! :-) (Just remember your fake answers.)
17) Only make online purchases from reputable sites (usually providing a phone number) and that offer purchases with "https". Use Credit Card or PayPal (not Debit Card) for all online purchases.
18) Don't forward "urgent/important" emails without first verify the information, e.g. www.truthorfiction.com
Protect your Children (and other Loved-Ones) - Online Accountability
19) Children are vulnerable and often their innocence leads them to give out personal info online to those seeking to harm them. Furthermore, we all need protection from the dark side of the Internet. Follow the steps recommended here to be aware of their online actions, especially on social networking sites like Facebook.
-- Why not purchase Circle (meetcircle.com) for simple, effective WiFi Internet filtering and control?
Further Suggested Measures - These may make your life easier!
20) Protect your computer and electronic equipment from electrical problems.
21) Recycle your computer the right way, deleting all personal information first.
22) Protect any sensitive data you keep on flash drives or backups - consider encrypting it.
23) Special considerations for traveling with a laptop
24) Consider signing up for an Identity Theft Protection service.
25) Use the free software Secunia to help find and update out-of-date software on your computer.