New Computer Security FAQ
Congratulations! You've got a new computer. Some of the first things
you do will either help secure it for years to come, or may cause
nothing but grief.
What's the First Thing I Should Do With My New Computer?
If your computer doesn't have an operating system installed, the
first thing you should do is install the operating system. This
can be a simple process requiring the insertion of a CD into the
computer, or may be a very involved procedure. Read the instructions
that came with your computer to find out if, or how, to install
your operating system.
If your computer does have an operating system installed, you may
want to make a copy of the on-disk install discs. Many of the new
computers don't ship with CDs containing the operating system.
Instead these machines have a special partition hidden away on
the hard disk which contains images of these CDs. Making a copy
of these CDs can save you grief if you end up with a hard disk
crash later in life.
When Should I Plug My Computer Into the Network?
Your new computer should only be plugged into your local network,
cable modem or the Internet once it is completely ready to go.
Once connected to the Internet your computer is vulnerable to
attack. Be careful, because the average Internet-connected
computer is subjected to dozens of attacks per day,
and your computer will be vulnerable from the minute
it is plugged in.
As soon as your computer is on the Internet you should
immediately update it and install firewall and anti-virus software (see below).
What's the First Thing to do Once My Computer is On the Internet?
As soon as your computer is connected to, and working on, the
Internet you should:
- Install a Firewall.
A quality, free firewall can be found from Zone Alarm. The free version is
easier to use than the paid-for version. This software can be
complicated for a novice user, but should be manageable for most
- Install any Operating System Updates.
Microsoft users should go to
WindowsUpdate.Microsoft.com. Once there Microsoft may
install a program on your computer which will check which updates
your computer may need to fix known security problems. As a rule
you should install all recommended updates.
- Install Anti-Virus Software.
Anti-Virus software will help prevent your machine from being
infected via Malware.
Quality, free anti-virus software can be found from Grisoft. Called AVG Anti-Virus it
can keep close tabs on your machine and all of your e-mail and
Should I Install the Firewall or Anti-Virus Software That Came With
If you've followed the other steps in this FAQ you probably
won't need any other Anti-Virus or Firewall software on your
PC. In fact, some of these packages can interfere with each
other, and most of these products that come bundled with a PC
are paid subscription programs that you may not need.
What Sort of On-Going Maintenance Do I Need to Perform?
You should allow your Anti-Virus software to perform daily
updates of its database and its engine. New viruses, worms and
trojans appear every week, and many of them require changes in
your anti-virus software.
Backup your machine frequently. You never know when its going
to crash, or when you might accidently delete an important file.
Windows Update frequently.
Don't load P2P programs such as Kazaa on your computer. These
will cause problems, both legal and functional.
What About Spyware?
Download, install and use SpyWare removal software such as Spybot
- Search & Destroy 1.2, Spyware
Blaster, NoAdWare, SpywareEliminator.
This software will help make sure that your Internet usage is not
being spied upon -- or worse!
Should I Get More RAM, More Disk?
Consult your computer professional about your personal computer.
(The answer, by the way, is almost always yes, and yes!)