Last update: January 28, 2012 09:11 AM      

When you buy a brand new computer

Before you connect to the Internet for the first time

allen's personal collection
of ideas, articles and links
to computer security resources .

When you buy a brand new computer, you are probably not well protected from security threats on the Internet until you set it up properly, and even then there are risks unless you know enough to take certain precautions.

Here is what I think is a list of basic things to do immediately when you get a new computer. The list is not exhaustive, but should give pretty good safety for reasonably cautious users, especially those without children.

This list is a supplement to the main security page, which should be consulted for more detailed info. 

Before connecting to the Internet:

  1. Check to see if you have a virus checker, like AVG, Panda, RAV, Norton, Symantec, McAfee, etc. and if it will check your email for risks.  Make sure you update the virus definitions as soon as you hook up to the 'net if updates are not automatic, since the viruses that threaten your machine, change rapidly in their distinguishing characteristics as new ones come out.

  2. Check to see if you have a firewall.  If you have highspeed, you may not need a software firewall, since your router may do the job, but find out.  If you need a software firewall, ZoneAlarm is my choice, and for home use, you can download the free version.  There are others as well.  There is a built-in firewall in windows, XP, but I am not too impressed with it.  If it is turned on and you have a better firewall, turn this one off (under the connection settings). Otherwise use it until you get a better one, then turn it off.

  3. Once you have a router and/or firewall working and an anti-virus program set up, connect to the Internet and immediately update the anti-virus definitions, then run a scan.  If the machine has been used before, run some scans from the Internet when you have a chance later.  Also run Ad-Aware, etc...

  4. After or while that is happening, go to Windows Update and do all the 'Critical Updates" suggested and any driver updates.  If your copy of the operating system is not brand new, and you are on dialup be prepared for hours of waiting while it all comes in.  Be prepared for some dialogue boxes requiring an 'OK' along the way, and several reboots.

  5. Read the main security page and keep up-to-date.  Update your software, virus definitions, and operating system weekly at minimum.  Scan often.

  6. If you have been away for a while and start using your machine after it has been idle for a week , or days, update everything FIRST.

Use this information at your own risk, however.
Of course, I can't give you any guarantees.

They say that free advice is worth exactly what you pay for it. 
I hope these pages are an exception, but even the pros don't have 100% success and new threats come out of the blue with great regularity.  A few years ago, all this nonsense and nastiness we combat daily was not even imagined.

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