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Home Computer Security Checklist

Our concise checklist contains a plethora of tips on securing a computer. Make sure your computer has all of the pertinent things listed below and read the details.

This is an abridged list of computer security tips. Each section has a link to comprehensive details about each of the suggestions.

Table of Contents


  1. Read in-depth about antispyware protection tips.
  2. Install an antispyware program.
  3. Get the latest antispyware updates.
  4. Perform a full system scan.
  5. Configure your antispyware program to automatically download updates.
  6. Make sure your antispyware program is updating itself.
  7. Don't login as admin for everyday computing. Login as a user.

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  1. Read in-depth about antivirus security tips
  2. Install an antivirus program.
  3. Get the latest virus update.
  4. Perform a full system scan every week.
  5. Make sure your antivirus program automatically updates itself frequently.
  6. Make sure your antivirus program is updating itself.
  7. Make sure your emails are being scanned for viruses.
  8. If you download a program from the internet, even from a trusted site, scan it with your antivirus program. Usually you can right-click on it and run your antivirus scanner.

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  1. Read in-depth about computer backup strategies
  2. Be sure to encrypt your backups in case they are stolen.
  3. Store your backups away from your home/home office.

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  1. Read in-depth about email security tips
  2. Set your antivirus program to scan emails and attachments.
  3. Turn off the preview pane.
  4. Download and apply the latest updates to your email program. They may contain security updates.
  5. View attachments safely.
  6. Think twice before setting automated responses.

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Software Firewalls

  1. Read about software firewalls and detailed tips.
  2. Install a software firewall on every computer.
  3. Use a firewall that monitors incoming and outgoing traffic.
  4. Make sure the firewall is configured correctly.
  5. Use a 3rd party firewall rather than Window's firewall.
  6. Keep your firewall updated with the latest security fixes.
  7. Make sure only *one* firewall is running (don't forget to turn off Windows firewall when you install another one)

Hardware Firewalls

  1. Read in-depth hardware firewall setup tips.
  2. Update the router to the latest firmware version. And keep it updated.
  3. Enable stateful packet inspection (SPI).
  4. Disable ping (ICMP) response on WAN port.
  5. Disable UPnP (universal plug-and-play).
  6. Disable IDENT (port 113).
  7. Disable remote management of the router.
  8. Change the default administrator password.
  9. If your router has wireless capabilities and you are not using them, disable the wireless option.

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Laptops - Physical

  1. Comprehensive article on laptop security tips and recommendations.
  2. Secure your laptop, especially when traveling.
  3. Lock your laptop in a filing cabinet, docking station, or other secure place when going home from the office. Many thefts occur after hours or at lunchtime.
  4. Watch out in airports, especially at the security checkpoints.
  5. Carry your laptop in a nondescript unit such as a briefcase.
  6. Watch out for diversions. A laptop thief may be lurking nearby.
  7. Conspicuously label the laptop with the owner (like the business or an asset tag).
  8. Keep your laptop in a hotel safe (get a receipt) or lock it in your suitcase.
  9. Fill out the manufacturer's warranty card and send it in. A thief may send in a laptop to get repaired.
  10. Disable the infrared port while out so someone cannot access your files.
  11. Modify your laptop so that the last username used to log on is not displayed in the logon dialog box.
  12. Don't put your laptop in checked luggage.
  13. Use a padded carrying case for your laptop.

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Laptops - Wireless

  1. Read the details about wireless internet security
  2. Disable file sharing.
  3. Beware the fake hotspot (evil twin).
  4. Watch out for someone looking over your shoulder.
  5. Watch out for someone using a camera phone.
  6. Use VPN to secure your wireless transmissions.

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Operating Systems

  1. Read about Windows operating system security details.

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Parental Control

  1. If you have children you may want to install parental control software.

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  1. Read in-depth about creating the best password.
  2. Password your computer accounts.
  3. Choose strong passwords.
  4. Do not store passwords or sensitive personal information on your computer.
  5. Do not use the same password for many accounts.
  6. Use temporary passwords when using a public computer.

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  1. Read in-depth about pharming prevention.
  2. Be very careful when typing in links in your browser.

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Phishing Scams

  1. Read about phishing scams and detailed tips.
  2. Make sure site is secure before entering personal information.
  3. Be very careful when clicking on links in an email.
  4. Do not enter private information or login using a popup window.
  5. Do not respond to emails that ask for private information.
  6. Watch out for suspicious emails.
  7. Login to your accounts regularly and make sure nothing is amiss.

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Privacy Online

  1. Read in depth about computer privacy.
  2. Use a program to erase your tracks.
  3. Instant messenger programs are *not* secure. Whatever is typed in goes through a public server and it is not encrypted.
  4. Make sure you are using a secure connection when making internet purchases.
  5. Consider browsing the web anonymously.

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Security Monitor

  1. Read in-depth about security monitors and how they can help you.
  2. Use a security monitor to alert you when your protection is disabled or out of date.

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Stop Spam

  1. Read about how to stop spam and see detailed tips.
  2. Install antispam software.
  3. Do not put your email address on your website unless it is encrypted.
  4. Use a separate email when posting to newsgroups and forums.
  5. Use an email filter.
  6. (Website owners) Be wary of using the challenge/response method.

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  1. Read in-depth about keeping your computer up-to-date.
  2. Make sure your computer has the latest updates - especially security updates.
  3. Make sure your computer's bios is the latest version.
  4. After a long hiatus from your computer, manually launch Windows update instead of waiting for automatic updates to kick in.

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Access Point Setup

  1. Read in-depth about wireless access point tips
  2. Make sure your access point has the latest firmware.
  3. Disable SSID broadcast.
  4. Change the default SSID.
  5. Enable the strongest security that the devices connected will support.
  6. Set up wireless MAC filtering.

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