Home > Privacy, Security > Home User Security Guide Home User Security Guide Submitted by LogError 2005-01-31 Privacy, Security 19 Comments Many of you have new computers in your homes, but how many of you realize that this computer is already vulnerable? How can this be? How can a brand new computer be vulnerable? Read this article and find out more. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 19 Comments 2005-01-31 8:46 pm maybe the word computer should be changed to Windows PC. i know my linux and mac boxes are pretty darn secure right from the get go, at least secure enough to allow me time to download the updates i need without worry. 2005-01-31 8:48 pm Run an OS with less visibility than Windows if you can. Looks really simple compared to that list of things to do. 2005-01-31 8:57 pm First, I am a linux user. Now, answering the previous comments, as a home user do I get Linux in my machine? I dont think so. We know what to do, but I think the article is intended to another audience. What is the number 90 something percent of windows users? It most be higher for home users. Now, dont tell me that saving my data, erasing windows, installing linux, configuring linux, hope for no hardware/software issues is easy. We all know that Linux is more secure. Yes, Linux, BSD, Solaris, OS X, etc. 2005-01-31 9:12 pm i have a female friend that recently bought a low end Dell, she wanted me to get some files off her old computer on to her new one, simplest thing to do is slave her old drive on the new computer and copy em over… while i was looking at her computer i looked at the networking configuration and she had several things enabled by default that should never be for a single user – stand alone desktop such as file & print sharing, NetBIOS to name two, brand new fresh out of the box WinXP is like this, i did not change anything or do anything she did not ask, she is a stubborn ol woman so i left well enough alone, and am currently waiting for her computer to become infected to the point of no longer being usable so she will call me again to fix it, then i will do a clean install and see if i can tighten up the security for her… 2005-01-31 10:04 pm A year or so ago, my girlfriend says they have broadband now, and it is so wonderfull… A couple weeks later, she calls to say that the pc does not connect to the internet and works very slow. I let her know that they probably have some virusses and spyware. She know that I run linux, and is used to it a bit (she sometimes uses my laptop when we are on holiday), and asks if her computer could run it also. Take my slackware disks and go over too her place. Using a lifeCD (slax) I copy over the documents of the whole family and after that, do an install of slackware. Bring the system up to -current, install the latest kernel and check things like printer support and usb devices like recorders and usb sticks. I make an useraccount for each of the family members. Setup the email client for the mum, enable the email client for the father so he can check emails on the server of his work. Setup kopete for her brother and show him some of the educative programs in kde-edu. He has a play station, and knows that I know that his install of games and porn have brought the system down pretty fast, so he does not complain. She knows her way around at the desktop, she even installed OpenOffice herself. She told me the install instructions where at the same place where she downloaded the linux version, and it was not harder than installing it on a windows pc. Every now and then, when I’m at her place, I update the system to -current with swaret, but that is really a no brainer… What really strikes me, is that hey all do really productive things with the computer now. The father configered kde to use french, so he refreshes his french a bit when using the pc. He even complained that he could not do that at work. The mother has a new hobby, mailing to every body in her evening courses and searching the net for more and more information about flowers and other strange things. And while the little brother still asks me from time to time to configure the nvidia so 3D games will work, he likes the fact that some of his friends have installed linux on there own and he was the first to have linux at home. And she, well, she is now glad that each have there own account on the pc, and the system now *just works*, always, and the same. 2005-01-31 10:08 pm You would be surprised on who fits into that 90%. A good friend of mine a mentor to some degree complained to me about his windows machine was having problems to the point of becomeing unusable. After asking a few basic questions i found out that he had directly connected his Windows XP desktop directly to his cable modem. I was floored! this behavior from a senior Unix Systems Administrator i figured he would at least know some things about Windows. The first thing you buy after getting broadband is a good firewalling router. The second is good anti-virus software that will eliminate 99.99% of any internet threat. 2005-01-31 11:58 pm Here are two books among many that will help home users secure their computers : “Practical Unix and Internet Security”, by Simson Garfinkel, published by O’Reilly, 2003. “Network Security : The Complete Reference”, by Roberta Bragg, published by McGraw-Hill/Osborne, 2004. They’re both easy to read and understand, unless you’re more accustomed to watching the Simpsons on television. 2005-02-01 12:16 am The name of this article should be: Home *Windows PC* User Security Guide. Every place where the author says “computer” he should be saying *Windows PC*. Otherwise he is saying that ALL computers, regardless of what they are running, share the insecurities that he lists and discusses. It is just part of MS FUD to imply the Windows PC’s are no more vulnerable than any other option out there. Everything he talks about in the article is MS Windows specific, yet he fails to mention that fact. Yes, I know the statistics but the author has already lost a bit of credibility in my book. Besides, many non-technical Windows users know there are alternatives, but by implying that MS Windows is no less secure, then they will draw the mistaken conclusion that switching to something else will make no difference. Besides, it’s just less professional to leave out that small detail. Then again, the following advice makes me suspect the author’s competence: “First Steps After Connecting to the Internet…” “…Go to http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/ and follow the instructions there to install all Critical Updates.” Sorry, Charley, by then it’s already too late! Your XP box is already owned by someone or infected by something. 2005-02-01 12:26 am Let’s say you are given a PC that’s *loaded* with spyware, and it’s your job to remove it. You have to remove it all, and you have to do so as fast as possible. What steps do you take? BTW: I have found that symantec, spybot, ad-adware, and spysweeper – even if used all together – will not neccessaraly remove all spyware. I’m thinking maybe ad-ware and hijackthis. 2005-02-01 1:06 am Click here, then here then here…Then the OS distributor (cough MS) should have already done it. 2005-02-01 2:05 am BTW: I have found that symantec, spybot, ad-adware, and spysweeper – even if used all together – will not neccessaraly remove all spyware. I’m thinking maybe ad-ware and hijackthis. Even if they would. You can’t prove it. Once a box is infected, the only save choice is formatting, etc.. 2005-02-01 3:10 am As a tech at a university, spyware can be a major pain, though it seems to have lessened from a peak a few months ago. First, disconnect the PC from the network. Then note down and kill as many suspicious processes as possible with the task manager. If you can’t kill them you can usually rename the file and reboot, if not that, boot into safe mode and rename the file. I use spybot – search and destroy and hijack this to get rid of most of the cruft, and then remove any remaining entries in the “run” sections of the registry that start spyware processes. Some install themselves as a service, check for dodgy services. If you miss any they can reinstall themselves and others and you might be back at square one. If you can stop the spyware processes running and loading at boot time, and remove BHO entries from IE (with hijackthis), you should be ok. There might be left over cruft on the hard disk but it will be harmless. 2005-02-01 5:23 am Obvious stuff like that is turned off by SP2, at least. I just reinstalled my partner’s old PC ready to give it to his sister; fresh copy of WinXP SP2, AVG 7 with auto-updating enabled, ad-aware, spybot (with immunisation and tea timer both turned on), and Internet Explorer thoroughly obscured (set Firefox up as the default browser). Should hopefully keep it clean for a while at least… 2005-02-01 6:43 am Like another poster commented already, I have to question this guy’s credibility. Yes, it’s obvious he’s referring to a Windows PC, that’s not what my issue is though. I thought it was pretty funny that the author felt it was safe to, if absolutely necessary, just REALLY QUICKLY connect to the internet and then download the firewall software from these sites but HURRY MAN HURRY!!1one and then really really quickly disconnect from the internets!! Within the past year, I had made a fresh install of XP, and firewall was not enabled by default. In the one minute that it took me to get the firewall enabled, I was already infected. It’s not a simple matter of HURRY THE HELL UP OR ELSE! 2005-02-01 8:23 am He makes the comment that if you are using a computer without a built in firewall and have no other means of getting one, to connect to download one. In your example you say he is wrong because of how fast your XP install got owned. But what you missed is that XP HAS a built in firewall so your basis for declaring his incompetence is invalid. 2005-02-01 8:48 am ..except that he hasn’t made a point of not using Internet Explorer and using an alternative web browser. That one point I would consider to be perhaps the most important for the ‘home’ user after enabling the built in firewall (which you will be prompted to do on a newly delivered XP sp2 pc today), as most crap that ends up on pc’s is via some activeX exploit. Secondly, don’t use Outlook Express, use an alternative such as Thunderbird. http://www.windows-noob.com/ cheers anyweb 2005-02-01 7:29 pm My point was, I didn’t even have a chance to enable the built in firewall. My point was, if I got infected in probably the space of one minute, and I have read of similar instances, then it is probably NOT safe to really quickly connect to the internet to download firewall software and then really quickly disconnect, as was suggested by the author. My point is valid, you just didn’t read it carefully enough. 2005-02-01 8:03 pm Many posters above claimed that this (IMHO very well written) article is important only for Windows users. Following this claim I have some suggestions for other OSs users: – don’t use firewall possiblities of your OS; – don’t use router, unless you need share connection; – if you need use router, don’t disable any access to it and don’t create any firewall rules (and don’t forget to put yourself into DMZ); – don’t use strict passwords – “password1” is good enough for charlie [root] – configure your pc to run all possible daemons – sometimes they may be needed – do not download and install patches from internet – your system is secure without that – trust your bank – if they send you email about verifying account data, answer them politely and send them all asked information – use wireless devices in default configuration Well, if you feel that these recommendations are not the wisest ones – reread the article one more time. This article is good intro into home PC security; including some windows specific applications and needs doesn’t make it worse. 2005-02-01 10:25 pm use the tcp/ip filtering software temporarily until you get better firewall downloaded and setup. just block/filter out all tcp and upd packets.