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Secure Your Windows 7 System Now!

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Many computer owners have Windows 7 systems, which seem to be more secure than previous versions of Windows. Yet, because Windows is such a massive target — one that promises big rewards with a good hack — you might think securing Windows is an impossible task. Not so. John Traenkenschuh presents three simple goals: create backups, consider optional security software, and control the interfaces to the system.

Many computer owners have Windows 7 systems, which seem to be more secure than previous versions of Windows. Yet, because Windows is such a massive target—one that promises big rewards with a good hack—many think securing Windows is an impossible task. Not so. I’ll introduce you to security settings that come from my experience and training as a firewall administrator.

I know; many of you are dreading this process. You think my advice is derived from the Group Policies that are only possible with systems joined to Active Directory. You may have read the Microsoft security guides, delicious documents crammed with a hundred or more settings that are categorized by system function. No.

Many are home users, people without knowledge of the many Group Policies in Microsoft’s documents. Many have odd applications, and accommodating these removes settings from consideration. Users need simple ways to implement and then test settings. Many need a quick way to return to system defaults quickly. Last, all should avoid RegEdit, a tool that can corrupt vital system structures, as Microsoft itself warns. Being home users, many want free tools.

Let’s begin. Our goals will be to:

  • Create backups
  • Discuss optional security software
  • Control the interfaces to the system.

Please review the blogs I will be posting on the Informit website. By reading these, you lower your computer’s attack surface and attractiveness.

Create changes with “baby steps”—introduce small numbers of small changes. Test the change effects carefully before trying others. Keep your system backed up. Record your changes so that you can review these with support staff. Last, icon views in the Control Panel, not categories. Icon views are easier for navigation. Ready?

Ready for Restore

Copy your information to media such as USB drives, DVDs, USB flash sticks, etc. As you wait during the copying, be sure to read my series on Slash and Burn computing. Keeping so much important, maybe unneeded, information on your computer is poor security.

Use Windows excellent System Protection application. This feature creates a system image capture, one you can use to resume past settings that had fewer problems. Access the applet by opening the Control Panel. If you open the System applet, you can click the System Protection tab to create a restore image (see Figure 1).

Figure 1 System Protection Utility’s buttons

Use the Create button to create a baseline of your system before making changes. Use a descriptive name, one that will help you return to the most stable changes.

Your new changes may prevent Windows from booting. If so, you will have an option to restore the system to an earlier baseline. Aren’t you glad for your backups?

Ready for step two? Get the basics in place!

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