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E-mail: security@lbl.gov

Tips to Secure Your Computer

Overview

Use the following guidance to help secure your computers.

1. Updates and Patches

The simplest and best way to secure your computer is to configure the operating system to automatically check for updates:

If at all possible, update to the latest Operating Systems, Windows 7 for the PC and OS X Lion for the Mac.

2. Run Anti-Virus Software

Berkeley Lab offers Sophos Anti-Virus for free. There are versions available for Windows and Mac OS X. Go to software.lbl.gov to obtain your copy.For more information about installing and configuring Sophos, go to our IT FAQs Anit-Virus page.

3. Host-based Firewall

We recommend that you run a Host-based Firewall. Windows Vista and later, and Mac OS X operating systems come a with built-in firewall to help protect your computer system.

4. Keep 3rd Party Applications Update-to-date and Patched

It is always a good practice to keep 3rd Party, especially Flash, Java, and Adobe PDF reader. Periodically check applications for updates and if available, enable the automated update feature. 
Here is a tool that can help identify security issues in your browser Qualys' BrowserCheck. If you are using multiple browsers on your computer, run BrowserCheck from each one.

5. Web Browsers

Firefox is the recommended web browser for Berkeley Lab. Refrain from using Internet Explorer (IE), especially older versions because of it's numerous vulnerabilities, for your general web browsing activities. Due to IE's market dominance, it is targeted for attack more so that any other browser distribution. 

Here are some links for alternative browsers:

6. Backups

The most valuable asset on/in your computer is the data/information. Berkeley Lab has a backup service available for PC and Mac desktops and laptops, called Carbonite. To find out more, go to the PC Backups page.

7. Passwords

Creating a good, strong password is not an easy task. The challenge lies in the making the password difficult to guess, but easy to remember. Using a different password for each account help protects you in the case where one account is compromised, the hacker will not be able to use that same password to compromise your other accounts.

 A useful, free tool called "Password Safe" is available from Counterpane Labs. Go to the Password Safe page to find out more. A good commercial password safe is 1PasswordVisit our Password Policy page to learn more.

Sources


Best Practices for Keeping Your Home Network Secure. NSA.

Home Computer Security. CERT.