Just about everyone knows that home networks and machines need a firewall. Most home PC users also know they need to run anti-virus and anti-spyware tools. Heck, most systems come with these things pre-installed these days. Saavy users even know how to enable the Windows or Linux auto-update feature and go a long way towards to making their machines more protected against attacks.
But, I wanted to remind home users of three “Beyond the Basics” they could do to really help improve home system security. Ready? Here is the list:
1. Install a software update tool like Personal Software Inspector from Secunia. This tool checks your system for various software packages that you may have installed. Have an old version of Java runtime or an out of date version of Flash Player? If so, this tool will not only find it and alert you to it, but in most cases, give you a direct download link to the update. Since many of today’s exploits are against ancillary software packages, this step will help take you well beyond the basic security of most users!
2. Make sure that your home wireless network is secure. If you can, make sure you are using something more than WEP for wireless encryption. If our router or access point doesn’t support more than WEP, or worse yet, doesn’t have any wireless security enabled at all, then you have a serious problem. Take a few minutes and check out this site for more steps on securing your home wireless network.
3. Change from IE to a different browser. Internet Explorer (IE) if a MAJOR TARGET and a source for a myriad of compromises. You can help protect yourself by switching to Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Safari or some other alternative browser. While each of these browsers may also have their share of security issues, none of them represent as a wide and large of a target as IE. Google “alternative browser” for a plethora of browsers for your operating system.
There you have it. 3 fairly easy ways for home users to go “Beyond the Basics” to increase the security of their computing environments. There are a ton more ways to tune the user experience and reduce risk. A bit of Google searching and staying current on various security topics is a great way to start. Be safe out there!