Basic Computer Security

Basic computer security is essential as the internet is constantly expanding and as it does so do the threats from malware, viruses and rogue programs. There are many ways that hackers and well organised criminal gangs will try to infiltrate your system so you need to take a pro-active role in defending your computer against such threats.

Whether you use a dial up connection or high speed, you need a good firewall which will monitor inbound traffic as well as outbound. The built in firewall offers little protection but it is better than no firewall at all and if you have a wireless router, many of these have a built in hardware firewall which can be configured to add another layer of security to your system.

Some advocate that with a router you don’t need a software firewall, but the advantage of a software firewall is that you can easily monitor inbound and outbound traffic. If you use a router, how often do you check your router logs?

You need a reliable antivirus program. The majority of computers come with pre-installed trial versions of Norton or McAfee but these can be a resource drain. There are many free firewalls and antivirus programs which offer excellent protection as well as the option to upgrade to the pro version.

Check your firewall at Gibson Research. This will check your firewall for vulnerabilities, open ports, file sharing and messenger spam, not to be confused with Live Messenger but the inbuilt Windows Messenger service.

Also direct your browser to pcflank where you can run several tests, scroll to the bottom of the page and look at the options recommended based upon your level of experience.


Many users have their own preferences and stick with what they know, this is not necessarily the best that is available. AVG has been the most popular for some time, but it has also encountered many problems and has become more bloated but there are many alternatives.


On your Desktop, create a New Folder and rename it ‘Downloads’ so that ALL program downloads are in one easy to find location.

One Firewall, One Antivirus, generally TWO Anti-Malware programs.

Bear in mind that each PC is configured differently, and there is no ‘one size fits all’. What works for one user may not work as well for another, because they have different programs and configurations, so you need to play around to find out what works best on your system.

Tweaking programs allows you to create a balance between the best protection against the minimal intrusion which constantly asks for permissions . It may take a few days for you to get the settings to your liking, but it will be worth it.

Prevention and taking a pro-active role in protecting your PC is the best way to deal with many of the threats from spyware and malicious downloads. Stopping it is much easier than removing it once it has installed itself.

DO NOT click unknown links on websites or in emails and DO NOT be fooled by the promises of programs that can scan and clean your computer or clean your registry, many contain malware and do more damage.

Also ensure you back up your registry in the event you need to restore from a good working copy. Go to Start > Run and type in regedit which will open the Editor, click on ‘File’ and then ‘Export’.

Whatever programs you use, they should prevent spyware installation and virus infections. If they fail to do so, then change programs to ones that will protect your system. Once malware gets installed, eradication can become time consuming and difficult and prevention is much easier than cure.

Colin Richards

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