1. Install Mozilla Firefox – Mozilla Firefox will stop spyware dead in its tracks. Mozilla Firefox has many different plugins and advantages for other browsers and has a large community dedicated to keeping it secure.
2. Firewall. If you’re your operating system is anything but Windows 98 then you have a built-in firewall. The problem is that most computers I fix the firewall is turned off. You wouldn’t leave your front door open!! Firewalls close all the open doors or ports that enable remote users or applications to connect to your computer. No firewall means that all open ports can and will enable some application to connect to your computer remotely.
3. Encrypt your files – I don’t care if you have a super secret password on your computer and all the latest patches if someone has physical access to your computer they can take your hard drive and pop it into another computer and access your files. If your files and folders are encrypted then they can’t access them and steal your Identity. Pick a folder for you important documents-right click the folder then press advanced and then press encrypt folders and contents.
4. Updates – I don’t care what operating system you use but make sure that you enable automatic updates. Updates should be install within twenty four hours of their release. Hackers will reverse engineer the published updates and use the exploits to create their own, so patch away.
5. Car Storage – OK, easy suggestion but if I’m a hacker all I need to do is follow the target home and wait for them to leave the laptop in the car. Dumb, but I felt like it needed to be said.
6. Laptop locks – Don’t buy cheap laptop locks. Some of the cheap laptop locks on the market can be cut with small pliers. Good laptop lock cables will mesh together preventing it from being cut.
7. Policy – If you have own a business make a policy on how laptops are to be stored. You need to have a double lock policy. If a laptop is left unattended in a room it needs to be locked down with a laptop lock and the door to the room needs to be locked.
8. Harden Your Operating System – Locking down your operating system means stopping all unneeded services, installing updates and proper configuration of applications and server apps.
9. Passwords vs Pass Phrases – Make your passwords longer and more complicated.
10. Inventory – Assign inventory numbers and asset tags to laptops prior to giving them to employees. When a employee is fired or leaves the company get the laptop back, simple but often overlooked.
11. Wireless Security – Enable some sort of wireless security like WPA2, if you have no wireless encryption set up then all of your wireless clients can be tracked and subject to exploit. Kismet and other hacker tools will not only sniff wireless traffic they will also identify all the wireless clients for that wireless access points.
12. Walking Away – When you walk away from your laptop you need to press control-alt-delete and lock your computer. Dumb but it needs to be said.
13. AD-HOC Wireless networks – If your at a library or on campus or at a coffee shop and you scan for wireless networks and you see a computer to computer network don’t’ connect some one is trying to screw with you.
14. Rename your computer – Pretty easy to find you target if you computer’s name is your name. Once a hacker knows your name the social engineering game begins.
15. Virtualization – Install Virtual PC and install a virtual machine. Use the Virtual computer to test all applications prior to use. Utilize the virtual pc for all risky websites.
16. Drinks -I think I have seen more lost data from someone spilling a drink on a laptop than anything else. So keep your drinks away from your laptop…yea simple.
17. Stolen Laptops – Register your laptops with one of the many different laptop recovery services. If you install their software and the thief accesses the Internet they can track it, deleted your data, and report the location to the police…in theory.
18. Ant-Virus – Update your virus definitions.
19. Install Linux – Ubuntu Linux is free, you can install it in about 15 minutes, and its more secure than anything Microsoft has to offer.
20. Install Linux – oops I put that twice but I think it deserves two listings, good luck