Many of you have started your "Spring Cleaning" at home. How about your Lenovo desktop, laptop, or ultrabook? Is it time to revisit your security practices for staying safe online?
Here is my standard list of simple steps that you can take to reduce the chance of infection..
The following suggestions are general prevention and are not customized for your computer. You may have already taken some of these steps, and depending on your current security, you may not need to implement all of these:
1. Visit Microsoft Update: Make sure that you have all the Critical Updates recommended for your operating system, Office, and IE. The first defense against infection is a properly patched OS from Microsoft Update at update.microsoft.com. More info HERE.
2. Please use a firewall and realtime anti-virus. Keep the anti-virus software and firewall software up to date.. Run a complete system scan with your anti-virus at least once a week...preferably in Safe mode.
If your anti-virus program is a paid/licensed version that is about to expire, you can consider using a free one such as:
Microsoft Security Essentials (included in Windows 8/8.1 and later as Defender)
Avast! Home Edition
If you prefer not to use the Windows Firewall, there are several of the freeware Firewalls available on the public domain.
Please see this list for anti-virus, firewalls, and other FREE SECURITY SOFTWARE.
3. Using an alternate browser may reduce your chance of certain infections targeting a specific browser from installing themselves. You might consider installing Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, or Pale Moon
4. Do not use file sharing. Even the safest P2P file sharing programs that do not contain bundled spyware, still expose you to risks because of the very nature of the P2P file sharing process. By default, most P2P file sharing programs are configured to automatically launch at startup. They are also configured to allow other P2P users on the same network open access to a shared directory on your computer. The reason for this is simple. File sharing relies on its members giving and gaining unfettered access to computers across the P2P network. However, this practice can make you vulnerable to data and identity theft. Even if you change those risky default settings to a safer configuration, the act of downloading files from an anonymous source greatly increases your exposure to infection. That is because the files you are downloading may actually contain a disguised threat. Many very malicious worms and trojans, such as the Storm Worm, target and spread across P2P files sharing networks because of their known vulnerabilities.
5. Keep your software updated...make it easier on yourself and install the free security tool Secunia PSI .
6. If you have not already done so, you might want to install CCleaner and run it in each user's profile: ** UNcheck the option to install the any toolbars or trial products that may be checked by default for the Standard version, or download the toolbar-free versions (Slim/Basic) when given the option for those.
7. Speaking of pre-checked trial products, another great application is Unchecky.
Unchecky automatically unchecks unrelated offers, both saving you mouse clicks and making it less likely to miss a checkbox of an unwanted offer that may try to sneak onto your computer.
8. Let's talk about trackers, cookies, adware and other potentially unwanted pests. If you still wish to use Internet Explorer, please make sure you install SpywareBlaster .
Prevent the installation of ActiveX-based spyware, adware, browser hijackers, dialers, and other potentially unwanted software.
Block spyware/tracking cookies in Internet Explorer and other browsers.
Restrict the actions of potentially unwanted sites in Internet Explorer.
Periodically check for SpywareBlaster updates.
9. In addition, consider Ghostery to block trackers and to help you learn about the companies tracking you so that you can make informed decisions. Ghostery is free and will let you know when there is an update.
10. You might want to install Winpatrol. Winpatrol is heuristic protection program, meaning it looks for patterns in codes that work like malware. It also takes a snapshot of your system's critical resources and alerts you to any changes that may occur without you knowing. You can download a free copy of Winpatrol or use the Plus Version for more features.
11. A password manager can be extremely helpful. That is an application to help a user store and organize passwords. Password managers usually store passwords encrypted, requiring the user to create a strong master password to give the user access to his entire password database. Some password managers store passwords on the user's computer; others store data in the cloud. While the core functionality of a password manager is to securely store large collections of passwords, many provide additional features such as form filling and password generation. See this Lenovo spotlighted article for information and suggestions on using one.
Many of us in the online security community have tried and tested programs to determine their abilities. Please remember that there is no guarantee regarding computer security. However, the available software, combined with the rest of these recommendations will contribute to helping your system running safely.
Happy and Safe Surfing!