Not everyone in your life is as computer savvy as you are, including your kids and even your mother or other older relatives. For these people, safe web browsing practices hasn’t quite made it onto their radar. After all, it can take some time to get the hang of things.
To make sure your loved ones don’t cause your computer to go up in smoke or see what they aren’t supposed to see, it would be prudent to take the initiative and batten down the hatches on your home PC. There are dozens of things you can do, but there are a handful of things you should definitely consider.
Our guide will outline 10 easy ways to make your computer bulletproof for use by your mom or kids.
Educate Your Loved Ones
Before installing any software or add-ons, the most important thing you can do is educate your kids and mom on the essential basics of how to keep a computer safely. The first rule – avoid signing up for any free offers or installing “free” software. Let them know that just because it’s free, they don’t have to sign up for it. explain to them how they can check if a website is safe by using a service like WOT before they download and install something on the PC.
Also, make sure you teach them that if they don’t know what they’re doing, then they shouldn’t be doing it on the PC.
Make Sure Automatic Updates Are On
We all know Windows updates are critical to ensuring Windows runs smoothly. To make sure these updates are installed, you’ll want to make sure “Automatic updates” is turned on so your mom or kids won’t have to do anything to make sure they’re installed.
To turn on automatic updates in Windows, go to “Start,” type “Update” and select “Windows Update.” In the left pane that loads, click “Change settings” and under “Important updates” choose “Automatic updates.”
Install Google Chrome
Since your mother and kids will likely be doing a lot of web browsing, you’ll definitely want to install a web browser that supports sandboxing, an important security technique that isolates programs to prevent malicious ones from damaging the rest of your PC.
One of the best browsers out there for this is Google Chrome. It also runs leaner and faster than Firefox and Internet Explorer and offers dozens of add-ons that can help protect your PC even further, like Blocksi and WebFilter Pro.
Install a Hassle-Free Anti-Virus Software
Next, install hassle-free antivirus software; meaning anti-virus software that doesn’t need to be constantly attended to. Every computer needs to have antivirus software running at all times, however, on a PC being used by inexperienced users, it’s always best to go with a more independent-running anti-virus program.
AVG is a reputable choice, as well as is Avast Home Edition. Both are free and won’t cause your family members any headaches. Once they’re installed, they will run smoothly in the background.
Run as “Standard User” Only
To make sure family doesn’t go poking around the insides of a computer or install software that may compromise the system, your best bet is to only let them use the computer as either a Standard or Limited user versus using it as an Administrator, which allows too many rights.
While some family members may balk at this, most only use the computer to browse the web and use MS Office, which means allowing them administrator rights is unnecessary. Also consider removing any guest users.
To change user privileges in Windows, go to “Control Panel > User Accounts > Change User Account Control Settings.”
Run Windows in 64 Bit Mode
If running Windows 7, make sure you’re running the 64-bit mode versus 32-bit mode. When running in 64-bit, all device drivers must be signed in, making it much more difficult for hostile code to infect your PC and overall giving it a lot more protection. This mode also allows Kernel Patch Protection, which makes it even harder for malware to infect kernels.
If your computer supports the 64-bit version, you may need to upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium, which you can do so here.
Install a Reputable Firewall
Making sure a reputable firewall in installed such as ZoneAlarm is another important step in keeping your computer safe for your family. While the firewall that’s included with Windows works quite well, if you want to go one step further, ZoneAlarm is where it’s at. It’s both free and is one of the best firewalls out there for “preventing undiscovered attacks.”
If you want a slightly advanced program with more granular control options you can use the Comodo Firewall instead.
Install an Anti Porn Filter
For an enhanced way to keep your family computer free of any porn or other adult material, your best bet is using a porn filter like McAfee’s SafeEyes, an Internet filter that monitors certain keywords and blocks sites accordingly.
It’s also possible to create your own “White lists” and “Black lists” with this add-on, so you can specify what is allowed in what is not.
Install Anti-Spyware Like SpyBot
Another weapon to help you keep your family’s computer safe is installing an anti-spyware program, which is what removes the pesky adware that’s picked up when searching the Internet. SpyBot Search and Destroy is one of the best options available, as it offers schedules and real-time protection so you don’t have to worry about your kids or mother running the software on a regular basis.
SpyBot is also free and is one of the most popular spyware programs used by Windows users.
Firefox-Users: Install Adblock Plus
If your mother or children prefer Firefox over Chrome, make sure you install one of the most important add-ons to have for web protection when using this browser, AdBlock Plus.
Known for successfully blocking hundreds of ads and script, this particular add-on is one of the best.
Bonus Tip: Open and Setup an Open DNS/Google DNS
For one more smart way to keep your computer safe from family members with minimal computer experience, open and set up an Open DNS/Google DNS. We all must use a DNS server to access the web, but when you use an OpenDNS or a Google DNS server instead, your browser no longer needs to look up the IP address of every website you visit. These DNS services also keep a record of malicious websites and if someone tries to access such pages, they are automatically redirected to a page which explains to them that why visiting that site may harm their PC.
To set up an alternate DNS service on your computer, “right-click the network status notification icon” located in the Taskbar – System Tray, and then choose “Open network and sharing center” from the dialog window that appears.
A dialog window will load, and from here click the link “Change adapter settings.”
Next, right-click the network adapter you want to change the DNS settings for, and then select “Properties” from the dialog window that loads.
After selecting “Properties” for that particular network adapter, select “Internet protocol version 4” from the list on this page, and then click the “Properties” button.
And finally, on this last page, you need to do two things to finalize opening and setting up an OpenDNS. First, uncheck the box that reads “Obtain DNS server address automatically.” When you do, enter either of the following numbers into the DNS fields in this area, which become ungreyed when you uncheck the box.
Always remember that education on safe computer-using practices is your first line of defense with family. However, if all else fails, you can also try an internet filter like Net Nanny. While some family members may find it restrictive, it can prevent rogue installation of applications, as well as prevent them from unknowingly changing security settings.
For more ways to protect your PC for your family, check out our post – How to Protect Your Computer With SpyCatcher.