| By Robert Vamosi |
You wouldn’t drive your car at night without at least buckling up and turning on the headlights, so why would you surf the Web without using basic safety procedures?
Our Windows Secrets Security Baseline is a simple summary of the products and services that give PC users a minimum safe PC configuration.
The minimum security tools every PC needs
The minimum security configuration for all PCs includes a hardware firewall, anti-malware software, a secure Web browser, and a process for frequently updating applications.
Notebooks present a bigger security challenge. When you’re away from home, you have no control over what hardware firewall your laptop may — or may not — be connected to. So you should be especially vigilant that the software firewall running on your notebook is fully enabled.
Windows Secrets does not have a test lab and doesn’t run its own security tests. Instead, we have reviewed the data available on various security sites and publications that do test products, and we’ve summarized that information here.
Hardware firewalls — the first line of defense
A router is the gateway that gives networked PCs access to the Internet. Almost all routers used in small businesses and homes have a hardware-based firewall plus sundry other security features. A router can, for example, accept connections only from networked devices you’ve placed on its Media Access Control (MAC) address list. Using your router’s administrator controls, make sure you change its admin name and password from the default settings. (In an earlier column, I discussed how easy it is for someone to acquire a specific router’s default admin password.)
If you’re using wireless devices such as a notebook, ensure that they’re protected with either WA or WPA2 encryption.