September 12, 2012
Niles Nerd

Take Some Time to Explore Your Security Settings

- Nerds On Site When you first get a computer or laptop, most security settings in Windows are set at their default settings, which are usually not ideal, and in some cases downright frustrating when you want to view certain web pages, or even download things. Ironically, some of the settings aren’t very secure at all, as it seems convenience won or security in certain battles in the decision making process.
If you purchased your computer through an OEM (retail stores and some third parties), consumers are left to fend for themselves in disabling toolbars, changing the home page to something that actually loads in a decent amount of time, changing certain settings to make Internet Explorer more user-friendly, and changing security settings to level the playing field between security and convenience.
- Nerds On Site
When you first start Internet Explorer 8 or 9, you’ll see the screen to the right, insisting you change your settings. Most people just choose ‘Express’ because it’s easier, but since you’ll be presumably using Internet Explorer every day, or at least want it to work the way you expect it to work, you should take the time to customize some of the settings, so choose ‘custom’.
This webpage from the University of Delaware gives a rundown of what to do at each screen. You only need to go though these steps once, so read them carefully and Internet Explorer will become much more friendly in your day to day use.
Since we visit countless websites every year, it’s important to take some time to go through your security settings. You can get to them through te Control Panel and double-clicking on ‘Internet Options’, or click on ‘Tools, then ‘Internet Options’ in Internet Explorer. You can change your home page, search, and tab settings on the first page.
The second tab at the top is labeled ‘Security’. This is the tedious part, as you should go through the first three security “zones”, and change the ActiveX to ‘prompt’, File Download to ‘enable’, and Pop-up and SmartScreen filter settings to ‘enable’, then click ‘ok’. Now, go through the other two zones and do the exact same thing. If it’s any consolation, you only need to do this once (until the next Wipe and Reload or new computer).
Otherwise, be sure the ‘enable Protected Mode’ checkbox is checked for each zone. This will provide extra security and help protect your computer from attacks.
- Nerds On Site Of course, it’s important to check your Windows Firewall. If your antivirus program doesn’t provide a firewall, you’ll definitely want to make sure you enable the Windows Firewall. It won’t be as advanced or interactive. It’s pretty basic, to be honest, but as long as you follow safe rules of computing (only downloading from reputable websites, and only visiting safe and reputable websites, etc.), you should be fine. All in all, the Windows Firewall is certainly better than not having one at all.
If you DO have an alternative firewall, such as the one built into NOD32 Smart Security, it SHOULD turn off the Windows Firewall, as you won’t need two of them. Be sure to check that it does.
One of the best reason to use an alternative firewall is because they are interactive. If a program wants to access the internet, it’ll ask your permission (be sure to check the ‘remember this action’ checkbox or the equivalent, or it’ll ask you EVERY single time). After a couple weeks of asking (or less), it should barely bother you again. Tedious, yes, but for the odd occasion that a malicious program or virus DOES want to access the internet to download something or to “phone home”, your firewall will likely ask you, and you can deny it.
Since Mozilla Firefox is widely used nowadays, it’s important to go through it’s security options and ensure they’re setup the way you want them.
Right-click on the Tab Bar beside the open tab, and make sure ‘Menu Bar’ is checked off. Then go to ‘Tools’, and ‘Options’. Go through each tab and read them carefully. Again, you should only have to do this once until the next Wipe and Reload.
Going through these steps in Windows, Firefox, and other programs also helps you better understand the operating system and different programs, and therefore should allow you to feel more comfortable in using your computer every day.
This process is just part of what your Nerd will do when he or she is doing a New System Setup or Wipe and Reload. Our goal isn’t just to get it ‘up and running’, but to give you the best user experience possible, because, as we mentioned a moment ago, you’re going to use your computer every day, and taking a few minutes to go through these steps can limit hours of frustration.
Are there settings you change when you get a new computer that we haven’t mentioned here? We’d love to hear your thoughts, and share them with our readers. Please leave a comment below, or leave a message on our Facebook Fan Page, send us a tweet, or email us at: socialmedia[at]nerdsonsite[dot]com.
 

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