Windows and Linux Desktop Security

Introduction (Updated May 2012)

This article deals with network and personal computer security. It gives an overview of what you should be aware of in the world of computers. Having a good few years working on network administration and software development. I thought it would be good to give a overall account to harden on security for a home or network user.

Firstly, there are a few things to consider. Are you using Windows / Mac or Linux? Next is if you are running a network (several computers with a router/hub) or just a personal computer.

For a personal computer you will need a antivirus and a firewall. That is all. The anitivirus kills any identified harmful viruses and the other prevents possible Hacking or illegal software to access your computer. You might say, my company deals with all this? But at the end of the day, its your private data or work that is damaged. It is also your duty to look after yourself. You cannot always depend on your doctor. Remember “Prevention is better than cure”.

Why am I vulnerable? Firstly, you need to know how and why we can get attacked. We MAY get viruses when we visit strange sites, download and run strange software, copy files from another infect computer; friends or company, or download programs we do not know or have not used before.

If you do alot of those, you are more prone to virus or hacker attacks. So what happens? Your data might be destroyed, your pc may perform strange or slowly, your personal passwords or details might be stolen by hackers who sell them off for illegal purposes.

BE HEALTHY: Update and Backup Frequently

How to prevent disaster and be a safe user ? Here comes the trick. Software vendors and large companies continously upgrade and update their software to prevent attacks as this affects their data or reputation if they are vunerable. UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE is the key. Check all your softwares and make sure they are up to date! Download updates or new versions from the makers website. Normally they would give you updated software for free if you have previously purchased their software. If you cant afford expensive software, go opensource. There are quite alot of software developers who give applications for free. You are right, there is a free lunch afterall, but do support their causes by donating to them, or put in good words. This will keep their motivation up and feel pride in their work.

Install an antivirus package on your pc

Along the way, I have been using lots of antivirus packages (until i switched to mac). On looking at antivirus, you should consider the following:

  • Protection effectiveness
  • Frequent updates
  • Lightweight

If you are looking for free solutions…. there are some very good packages out there! In no order or preference,

* Impressed that microsoft provided an antivirus for public use. I used it together with NOD32 without any problems.

  • Microsoft Essentials MSE (http://www.microsoft.com/Security_Essentials/)
  • Immunet 3.0, powered by ClamAV ClamAV (Defacto Virus Scanner for Unix and Linux Systems! A hidden Gem)
  • Avast – Free personal Antivirus Avast
  • AVG – Free Basic edition AVG
  • Antivir – Free commercial antivirus
  • Panda Cloud Antivirus Panda
  • MoonSecureAV – OpenSource Moon (no longer actively maintained)
  • SpywareTerminator – Opensource with Buildin ClamAV antivirus SpywareTerminator

For commercial paid solutions. As for people who want to pay for the antivirus for whatever reason, lets say for companies who do not mind paying for a piece of mind. I would recommend NOD32. I don’t work for them or get any benefits, but based on experience and clients. NOD32 runs very well, slient and is very light, incomparison to mcafee, norton etc. Norton and mcafee I have used and found them to be cumbersome and loaded with too much fancy looks and from various reports, their virus capture rate is the same or less then NOD. NOD32 – Commercial award winning AV solution NOD

Install a firewall

There are various firewalls and most have its strengths and flaws. I am recommending Windows Own Antivirus tool Windows Security Essentials and Smoothwall.org. If you are using vista or newer windows, you just need to activate your firewall.

Using the right browser

There are various browsers but i have seen so much problems in both IE and others. A browser should be simple, easy to use and very light. Google Chrome & Firefox both fit these. They update frequently fixing problems and taking in comments to better their product.

Being paranoid / Over secure

Not to forget that extra paranoid security feature: An antispyware tool, Spybot and/or Spyware Blaster.

For Network Administrators

Wireshark – is a packet sniffer that allows a reasonabily skilled network person to monitor the packets that is passed from individual pcs to the internet and vice versa. END OF THE DAY, its up to you!

I advise everyone not to visit strange websites and click on strange Advertisings. Use a good reliable browser like FireFox or Google Chrome. Run regular scans using antivirus solutions that is recommended above. Happy surfing and use your personal computer safely.

Special Thanks

Dr. Jiang Nan for providing some valuable advice on windows based security.


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