Cyber Security Awareness Month - Day 1 - Securing the Family PC

Published: 2010-10-01
Last Updated: 2010-10-11 17:40:24 UTC
by Marcus Sachs (Version: 1)
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This year we are going to focus on steps that people should be doing with respect to securing their personal corner of cyberspace.  Some of the subjects may include technical procedures such as turning off certain ports or services or modifying software, but we really want this to be more about the person rather than the machine.

To get the month started we will spend the first week talking about the computer your parents or your family uses.  We'll get to children and schools next week, but this week let's stay focused on the adults.  Many of us are our parents' system administrators (as well as our extended family to include brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and anybody else who claims to be related to you especially when they remember that you've got half a clue about this thing called the Internet) so it's important to pass along tips to our "users" whenever we are performing maintenance for them.

So today let's look at some common sense advice about the family computer.  Yes, we all know the mantra about keeping the anti-virus software updated and the system patched (we'll talk more about that in a few days) but what else should we be doing?  Some of the things that I recommend for the family PCs I work on include:

  • Keep all computers in full view (no hidden machines, no illusion of privacy)
  • Document computer details in writing (serial number, software, receipts, BIOS password, etc.) and keep the documentation in a fireproof box or safe
  • Use an uninterruptable power supply (UPS) for PCs, laptops have their own built-in UPS - the battery
  • Keep all of the hardware and software manuals, plus any software CDs/DVDs in one place that is easy to find
  • Use a cable lock to keep intruders from stealing the computer should there be a break-in
  • Throw a towel over the webcam (better:  unplug the webcam)
  • Unless it needs to always be on, consider turning it off when not in use
  • Keep plenty of room around the PC so that air can flow through to cool it

What else?  Use the comment link below to add your own ideas and comments to this list.  It is definitely not complete, but should get the discussion started.

Marcus H. Sachs
Director, SANS Internet Storm Center

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