In our age there is nothing you can do to secure your computer 100% from some type of intrusion. However, if you take a simple few steps to harden your defensive position, the likelihood of an intrusion will be minimized.

Here are 8 things you need to do:

  1. Use a secure connection
  2. Establish and configure a firewall
  3. Install and use anti-malware
  4. Remove unnecessary software
  5. Disable any non-essential services
  6. Disable unnecessary operating system features
  7. Secure the web browser
  8. Require strong passwords

 

Use a secure connection – On your router, change the default password. If you are wireless, change the default SSID setting. Identify trusted wireless connections by conducting MAC address filtering.

Establish and configure a firewall (I told you this was simple) – This is actually the first thing you should ensure when hardening your computer. Use the local software that came with your system.

Install and use anti-malware – You can use the anti-malware apps that come with your computer, or you can purchase anti-malware apps. This is a simple thing that many people do not bother to do. If you are going to be working from home, this needs to be done immediately and should be done under any circumstance.

Removing Unnecessary Software – Remember when you purchased a new cell phone, and it only came with a few apps – but after a few months, the phone was filled with apps that you didn’t even remember why you downloaded the first place? Well, the same happens to your computer. You have apps on there that are using resources. Take inventory. If you do not need it, delete it!

Disabling Non-Essential Services – Almost anything that would give remote access to your computer should be disabled. Disengage any file sharing services or any device sharing services.

Disable unnecessary operating system features – For Microsoft systems, Autorun is a feature that hackers love to exploit. Some people can give you a tainted thumb drive with a virus on it that will automatically run when you plug it in. This is not a good thing. There are viruses out there in external pieces of storage devices.

Securing the Web Brower – The initial browser setting is likely not secure enough. Configure new browser settings. Head to Google to learn how to configure your preferred browser’s setting.

Software updates and patches – Make sure your update software option is turned on. The system needs to be updated continuously to keep your computer safe. If your OS does not recognize a potential malware incident on your computer because it did not recognize the danger, you could be in a lot of trouble.

Passwords – This is your primary weapon. Make your passwords complex. Letters, numbers, special characters, and length all play a part in making your passwords secure. Most operating systems have a complexity requirement. These suggestions are not good enough. There are websites to test your passwords. Use those websites to make the best password possible.

These are all simple steps that you should use if you are using your personal computer to work from home. You may have to do a little research if you are not familiar with some of the tools and methods, but these steps are not difficult to do if you are willing to spend a little time. The time is absolutely worth the protections it gives.

 

Thomas Russell, Cyber Education Program Manager