Securing a new Windows box on the cheap

I had to secure a new Dell laptop (a lovely Inspiron M1210) recently, here’s what I did.

Security updates for operating system

First things, first – update Windows as soon as possible. Use Windows Update at windowsupdate.com.

Alternative to using Windows Update:

In the comments, brucew mentioned AutoPatcher XP. He says “Updated monthly, a single download contains all the patches, plus some other useful things. You launch the installer, tick-off the things you want it to do and walk away. Recommended.”.

Sounds great, because you don’t leave your unpatched machine exposed while you’re downloading updates – which, if you’re on a really slow connetion gives a very strong chance of your machine being compromised before it’s patched. So offline patches are good – and the fire and forget interface is really cool – who wants to click buttons when you can be making a cup of tea?

Free auto-updating anti-virus system

I use Avast Home Edition and register for password.

Free anti-spyware tools

I normally install these two (and immediately use the online updates after install):

Install a secure browser

Get Firefox. After installing the browser, install the Adblock Plus extension and use the filter subscription:

Adblock Plus screenshot: add a filter subscription

Am I missing anything?

2 Responses

  1. brucew
    brucew at |

    I really dislike Windows Update for setting up a new box or reloading an old one. The shampoo method of installation (lather, rinse, repeat) is tedious at best, and just plain silly.

    A few years back I discovered AutoPatcher XP, and have been using it ever since. Updated monthly, a single download contains all the patches, plus some other useful things. I download it on an already secured machine and burn it to a CD with whatever else I’ll be installing (all the stuff you mentioned, plus OpenOffice and a few other faves).

    You launch the installer, tick-off the things you want it to do and walk away. No silly confirmation boxes, no annoying license acceptance nonsense, no stupid multiple reboots. It just does its job without bothering you. Recommended.

  2. amd
    amd at |

    Hey bruce, that sounds great – I’ll be trying that next time I have to set Windows up. Thanks for the tip!

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