Tech Corner: Laptop used Harden…it was super effective
Everyone uses laptops or desktops right? How many times have you noticed that your computer runs a little slower after visiting multiple sites? I’m pretty sure most of us from the late 80s/early 90s remember destroying our mom’s desktop because we had to download that new Ja-Rule song off LimeWire. So how would you protect your laptop/desktop in this new age of hacking? For one, stop going to those “special lady” sites…you know who you are. For everyone else, I compiled a short list to help protect your computer a little better than it is now. Will it completely fireproof it? No, but that’s because the internet is always changing and so do people’s skills. This is to help you reach a peace of mind along with learning more about your computer so lets get started!
Things you MUST do:
Decrease your account privileges
This should be the very first thing you do. About 92% of all attacks on Windows can be prevented by simply changing the type of account you use. Most of us sign into our admin account without even thinking about it. Use another profile that requires you to enter a password to download. Another reason to have multiple profiles is just in case you do get a virus, you have the master admin account to go back to and reset you computer.
Second thing to do is get rid of Java. Java is one of the most attacked and exploited program on the internet. More than likely, you don’t need it. If you need it for whatever reason, you can always download the latest version at www.java.com. If you need to keep it, keep it updated along with your antivirus.
Flashplayer is still required for lots of stuff on the internet so you’ll probably need it. Just make sure to keep it updated. The lastest version of Flashplayer will even update itself for you. Chrome and Internet Explorer already have Flashplayer installed by default and should keep it updated for you. Other browsers require that you install it yourself. (https://tiptopsecurity.com/how-to-secure-windows-computer-comprehensive-guide/ )
Make sure Windows is updating
This is a double-edged sword. Yes, you should make sure your Windows updates are going through but sometimes it prevents some of the programs you are regularly using from working. More than once, my laptop wouldn’t act correctly after an update. But having the update does patch certain security and computer essential files.
This really should be obvious. Most Windows computers already have one installed called Windows Defender. You could always download other ones, like Norton or Avast. Using an antivirus should be the LAST defense but I’ll explain that in a later post.
Backup your data
Please….PLEASE backup your information. You may not think it’s important but it really is. What if you do obtain a virus and your information is deleted? Or how about someone steals your laptop? They may not get into it but that info is gone now. I highly suggest purchasing a external hard drive to complete this. I have a few but two of the drives I use are this one and this one. If you are unsure about how to start this process, don’t worry, I got you. More on that below.
Use a more secure PDF reader
Adobe Reader is the most used pdf reader on the internet. And it’s also the most attacked. I suggest using a different reader. Nitro Reader and Sumatra are two really good pdf readers to use instead. Adobe isn’t a pdf reader you NEED so it can be replaced easily.
Things you SHOULD do:
Use a more secure web browser
If you are using IE, you most likely need your computer privileges revoked. Seriously, Internet Explorer is one of the LEAST secure browser available and has been for a long while (don’t get me started on freakin Microsoft Edge). Instead, I would use Firefox or Chrome. If you have heard of Opera, I would say try that though it is not as popular as the last two. If you absolutely need IE, please make sure that it is the latest version.
Uninstall the programs you don’t need
Whatever you are not using, dump it. If you haven’t used a program in the last 3 months, you most likely don’t need it. This makes you a smaller target. That means hackers have less to work with when trying to obtain a foothold inside of your computer. Usually, the more programs you have means more security risks and bugs to be exploited.
Turn off Autorun and Autoplay
You know how you put a CD or USB in your computer and it automatically runs whatever program? Yeah, don’t do that. You really don’t want things running automatically from third party devices.
Use a password on every account
Most people hate working for things. By working I mean they don’t like spending time cracking passwords because it takes work to do so. Which is why I suggested NOT to use your admin account for everything on your computer. If you have more than one person using your computer, you should have a password for each person. And the password for your admin account should be DIFFERENT than the other passwords of the other profiles.
Unplug your webcam
Have you seen the show “Black Mirror“? If yes, then your webcam is most likely unplugged or covered up. If not, then unplug and cover up your built-in webcam. Hackers love exploiting webcams because they are usually constantly left on while you are surfing the web AND people use their ADMIN accounts while doing so. There have been many articles about how bugs in webcam software (both internal and external webcams) can be exploited, letting hackers turn them out without you knowing. Some people pay to see unsuspecting people via their webcams.
Reset your firewall
Programs and sites that need internet access will automatically request permission to have access to your firewall. After awhile, holes start to develop that you don’t need or want. If you had contracted a virus, that hole that was opened may keep the virus alive even after you seemingly purge it from your system. One of the first things to do is to make sure your firewall is on. If it is, great. If not, turn it on. If it’s on Windows then it’s almost literally a on switch to turn on. I will be compiling a seperate post on how to reset your firewall from zero.
Some, if not most of these tips came from me and this site I looked up a few months back. He goes into way more depth than I do and may have covered some things I have missed so check it out as well when you get a chance. I will be be compiling guides for a few of these subjects and some others so be on the lookout for those too. If you have more questions or not sure how to do some of these things, please comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.