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Security Basics

What is the absolute minimum required to safely use the Internet? This article will explain the positive minimum. Rather like a driver's test. If you don't do these things, you shouldn't be allowed on the Internet superhighway. You would be a danger to yourself and others.


This won't hurt others, just yourself. But, if you do not have good backups, you'll eventually lose everything. Always have backups. Besides just having backups, you need to verify them occasionally and see if they really work. Trust, but verify. At least once a week, check to see if the important stuff you've done is actually backed up. Normally backup programs have log files you can use, but you should also check the backup media and see if the recent things you've done are actually there.

For businesses I recommend all three backup types:
  1. A local backup to a USB drive AND
  2. An off-site backup (cloud) AND
  3. An Image made monthly. Images are complete images of the entire drive including programs, drivers and so forth in addition to your data backup. They can allow for quick recovery from a failed drive or Windows going berserk.


It is important, but not enough, to run a good antivirus program. You should periodically check that it is really running and doing periodic scans. You should check what is being quarantined. If it is protecting you from over 1 or 2 attacks every few months, consider what you should do to live less dangerously.

Those with Windows 10 who are not running a business and not engaged in any dangerous behavior and very careful on the Internet can get by with using the built-in Microsoft Windows Defender.


You need to keep Windows up to date. You also need to keep other programs updated, particularly those that touch the Internet. Finally, since your router sits between you and the Internet, you need to keep your router up to date with firmware updates.

If you have a modem/router combination from your ISP, then they will probably keep it up to date. Comcast and the others do a pretty good job of applying security patches. If you own your own router, then you need to check it and apply the needed patches.

If you own your own router, then check it for updates and apply them at least twice a year. If you router manufacturer isn't maintaining their router, then buy a new one from someone who does.


Email safety is easy, just follow these rules:
  • Do not click on links. Go places from your password safe or browser, not from email links.
  • Hover over links and see where they really go.
  • Observe the return address of emails supposedly from your bank or vendor.
  • Unless you are absolutely sure an attachment is good, do not open it. If unsure either call the sender, or at least save the attachment and then scan it with you antivirus program and/or VirusTotal. I did an article on this here.
  • When in doubt, call me or whoever is your computer consultant.

While Online

  • Use an Ad blocker in your browser. I recommend Adblock Plus. I wrote an article on using it.
  • Use a password safe so you can easily have long random passwords and a different one for each site. As more and more sites get hacked, it becomes increasingly important to have a different password for each site.
  • Never click on any advertisement. If an advertisement interests you, then go to a reputable retailer or search for it with your browser.

Further Reading

  • Spideroak is my recommended Online Backup. My articles here.
  • Article covering and linking to recommended Windows programs from July 2015. Many of the above items are covered.
  • I've written lots of articles about using passwords and recommending a password safe.

Date: November 2018

Creative Commons License
This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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