How can I secure my Windows PC?


Although there is no silver bullet for computer security and no such thing as an unbreakable system, there are several steps you can take to protect your Windows PC.

This document is meant as a guideline and is by no means exhaustive. For more information, visit: http://www.microsoft.com/security

Also, it isn't our intention, except where noted, to make product recommendations. The tools mentioned in this document are simply the ones known to (though not necessarily tested by) ECI.

Use a Firewall
Windows 7 includes a firewall and should be activated while connected to the campus network. If you need to access your Windows PC from home using remote desktop, please do not deactivate your firewall. Instead, configure your firewall to allow these connections.

For more information about firewalls, visit the above Microsoft Security link or:
http://www.howstuffworks.com/firewall.htm
http://www.firewallguide.com

Patch your System
Ensure that your PC has the latest security patches. For Windows 7 users, we recommend that you configure Automatic Updates to download and install the patches daily.

From time to time, double-check that these patches are being installed. If you're using a dual boot system, be sure to check for new Windows patches once a week, especially if Windows isn't the operating system you use the most on that PC.

Be sure to update your other applications in addition to your operating system.  This includes making sure your email client, office suite, and PDF reader, for example, are up-to-date.

Use Virus-Scanning and Anti-Spyware software
Be sure to install virus-scanning software such as ClamAV/Immunet. Once installed, it is important to keep the softwares virus definitions current, so make sure to schedule daily or weekly updates.

For Windows 7 you can download and install Microsoft Security Essentials. Security Essentials is both Anti-virus and Anti-Spyware software that works with Windows native firewall. With Windows 8, Windows Defender replaces Security Essentials and is built in. For more information visit:

http://www.microsoft.com/security/default.aspx

You can further protect your PC by installed Anti-Spyware software. Spyware is a loose definition for any software, usually associated with web-browsing, that changes your computers configuration without your knowledge or consent. Spyware can slow down your computer tremendously and prove difficult to remove. There are several free Anti-Spyware tools available, including Ad-Aware, or Spybot among others.

Check for Malware

Scan also for Malware using Ad-Aware, Spybot or Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware.  Even with Anti-Virus and Anti-Spyware programs in place, Malware can still slip through just like viruses due to Zero-Day (Launch) attacks.  Most definitions will take a day or two before a new definition is available to locate such programs.

Consider using a different Internet Browser
One author found his share of Spyware decreased significantly when he started using Firefox. http://www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/. Consider also using certain add-ons that some browsers have available, such as NoScript.


Know Whats Running on Your System
Deactivate unnecessary services on your PC. If youre running an FTP or SSH server, for example, be sure to keep this software up-to-date. Older versions of services may have security flaws allowing attackers to gain Administrator rights on your PC.

You can check the system for rogue services (e.g. back doors, FTP servers, etc.). http://www.foundstone.com has a nice tool called Vision for identifying ports and processes on Windows hosts.

If you believe your University owned Windows PC or laptop has been infected, disconnect it from the network immediately and contact help@engineering.ucsb.edu

Last update:
2014-08-02 18:56
Author:
Don Voita, Troy Smith
Revision:
1.3
Average rating:0 (0 Votes)

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