Windows Desktop Security

Windows Desktop Security

This site contains links, tips, and tricks to protect your personal Microsoft Windows system (suitable for students and home computers). Contact ITS or your departmental IT personnel for configuring and securing any university computers/resources.

 

Microsoft Windows Patches

Microsoft provides the latest Windows program and security patches. The site will scan your computer and allow you to download any missing patches.

Make certain you perform most of the Critcal Updates and Service Packs.

 

Virus Scanners

It is recommended that you install a full antivirus package on your system. For information on FREE antivirus packages for home visit:

 

 To scan your computer using a free online online virus scanner visit any of the following sites:

 

 To see additional virus information, confirm hoaxes, or download additional clean-up utilities visit:

 

Malware/Spyware Removal Tools

Below is a list of malware removal tools you can try for free. These tools will help in the removal of viruses, trojans, spyware, etc.

 

Network Firewall

ZoneAlarm offers a free, simple firewall program used to track the network traffic coming in and out of your computer. It can be configured to block or allow specific program connections.

 

Microsoft Windows XP users have a built-in firewall available. To activate the firewall:

  1. Go to the Control Panel
  2. Select Network Connections
  3. Double-click on the network connection to secure, i.e.,
    "Local Area Connection," or "Wireless Network Connection," etc.
  4. Click on Properties
  5. Click on Advanced tab
  6. Check Protect my computer and network by limiting or
    preventing access to this computer from the Internet
  7. Click on OK

Microsoft Windows Vista/7 users have a built-in firewall as well. To activate the firewall:

  1. Go to the Control Panel
  2. In the top left corner click onClassic View
  3. Double-click on the Security Center
  4. Click on Windows Firewall on the top left corner of the screen
  5. Click on Change Settings in the middle of the screen
  6. Select On (recommended) and click OK

PLEASE NOTE: When you turn on your firewall, some internet applications may stop working. You may have to adjust your firewall to allow specific connections.

 

 

General Tips

Automate Your Updates

It is possible to configure Windows to download updates and software patches automatically. Similarly, you should set your antivirus program to download virus updates on a regular basis.

Patch Your Software Applications

Any software application running on your machine may be vulnerable to hacking or capable of spreading viruses.  Ensure that you are downloading patches and updates to your office applications (i.e., Microsoft Office) and utility programs (i.e., Adobe Acrobat Reader).

Set Secure Passwords

Many people set either blank passwords or easy-to-guess passwords. Unfortunately, this makes it easier for hackers. Password protect your logon, file and printer shares, and other resources on your computer.

PLEASE NOTE: Some systems generate a blank password for the Administrator account. This is an obvious security risk. For added protection, rename the default Administrator account and apply a secure password.

Disable Old Accounts

It is a good idea to disable (or delete) accounts that are no longer in use. Disable the Guest account if possible or, at the very least, set a secure password. Research any unknown accounts before disabling or deleting. To disable or delete accounts a user must have Administrator privileges.

Stop Sharing

Microsoft Windows has the ability to share files and printers across the network. If this is NOT a feature you need, turn it OFF. If this feature is not secured properly, it can make your system more vulnerable to viruses and hackers.

To disable file sharing in Microsoft Windows XP:

  1. Go to the Control Panel
  2. Select Network Connections
  3. Double-click on the network connection to secure, i.e.,
    "Local Area Connection," or "Wireless Network Connection," etc.
  4. Click on Properties
  5. Un-check the box for File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks
  6. Click on OK

To disable file sharing in Microsoft Windows Vista:

  1. Go to the Control Panel
  2. Click on Classic View in the top left corner
  3. Double click on Network and Sharing Center
  4. Click on Manage network connections in the top left corner
  5. Right click on Local Area Connection and select Properties
  6. Un-check the box for File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks
  7. Click on OK

Peer-to-peer file sharing programs, such as Limewire, can introduce security holes even when they are not running. It is highly recommend to uninstall these programs and avoid using them.

Surf Smart

If you go looking for trouble on the Internet, you will probably find it. Be careful where you go, the links you visit, and the pop-ups that appear. Most web browsers have pop-up blockers built in.

Shut Down

Turn off your system when it is not in use for an extended period of time. If it is off, it cannot get hacked.