Properly Setting Up A New PC - From a Security
5 Star Support Security Specialist
So, you just bought a new PC, and now you just cant wait to connect this new
rocket to the Internet and see how it really performs. I know this is what
you really bought it for, but PLEASE WAIT!! Before you connect to the
Internet for the first time, there are a series of steps I strongly
recommend you follow to ensure your new computer remains safe and you have
an enjoyable experience. My experience and testing in this area shows that
an improperly protected PC, especially if it is running Windows XP (any
version), can and probably will be attacked in under 10 minutes after being
connected to the Internet. The first attacks usually occur while you are
connected to Microsoftís web site to get your first round of updates and
patches. It usually happens in the background, and you are not even aware of
it until it is too late. Please donít let this happen to you. You can avoid
all the problems if you will first follow the steps I have outlined for you
below. Then go ahead and have fun on the Internet.
You really donít want to begin your new computer experience by having to
re-install Windows, so we well take the necessary steps to update, configure
and patch your new PC. No matter how new it is, it will surely need the
latest patches, and it will also need to be properly configured. That said,
letís get to it.
- Make a CD-ROM to start
loading your new computer that contains all the files you will need to
use. (This step assumes you already have a computer and your new one
will be replacing it. If this is not the case, and this is your only
computer, you can skip this step). Burn a CD from your old computer that
contains any and all security program installs, files, drivers for
peripherals, and any updated drivers you might need. If you are not sure
how new the drivers are, first go to the appropriate web site and get
the latest updates first. Be sure to include drivers for video devices,
game controllers, cameras, scanners, printers etc.
- Remove applications.
After your new computer is running and you have gone through the initial
setup process, Windows identifies the devices connected and asks you to
register or activate the devices and register your copy of the Windows
operating system. Wait on that and do it later. Instead you now want to
remove any promotional and trial software included with your new machine
that you will not be using. This includes items like AOL or Earthlink if
you wonít need them. This is easiest done from the control panel under
add & remove programs. Just scroll down the list and uninstall anything
you wonít be using.
- Install a firewall.
Yes, I said install. If you have Windows XP, it comes with a built in
firewall that your computer urges you to turn on. I much prefer you
install a very good third party firewall such as Zone Alarm from Zonelab.
If you made your CD properly in step one, you already have it ready to
go. Install it and turn it on.
- Install antivirus
software. Now you will install the antivirus software from your CD that
you burned in step one. We will update the antivirus program later. Just
get it installed for now. You might want to start a list at this point
of everything installed that will need registration &/or updating later
on when you connect to the Internet.
- Install anti-spyware
program(s). This should also be ready to go from the CD you burned in
- Install printers and
other peripheral devices. By installing your printer(s) now, you will be
ready to print any important update or registration information after
you connect to the Internet and begin registering and updating
everything. By also connecting any other peripheral devices now, when
you go to Windows Update, or Microsoft Update, Windows will see the
devices and suggest any Microsoft tested updates if they are available
for these devices.
- Set administrator
password. Now is a good time to set a strong password for the
administrator account. You might also think about renaming the account
to disguise its real purpose and privileges. For more information on
this, I recommend you read the tutorial on Hardening Windows elsewhere
on the 5 Star Support site. If you intend to harden your operating
system, now is the best possible time.
- Create new user
account(s). Now you need to create the user accounts for yourself and
any other users who will be operating the computer for general use. You
will only be using the administrator account from now on to install or
update programs. Be sure to password protect each account you create.
- Establish a restore
point. In Windows XP, you can manually establish a system restore point
that will take you back to this point should something catastrophic
occur. To start this system utility, click Start | All Programs |
Accessories | System Tools | System restore and follow the steps in the
System Restore Wizard.
- Install a router. This
will probably sound like an unnecessary step to many users, especially
if they are only using one computer. This is not the case. I am not
trying to get you to spend more money for a toy. Even if you only have
one computer, installing a router, especially one with a built in
firewall, between your computer and your high speed modem. It provides
an extra security layer between your computer and the Internet, and does
not slow things down at all. It is even more beneficial if you are
keeping your old computer as you will now be able to both network the
two machines easily, and connect both to the Internet easily. You will
need information from your IP as to the type of connection you will be
using in order to properly configure the router. A good router with
firewall can be had for as little as $80.00 if you are willing to shop a
bit. The extra layer of security it provides is well worth several times
- Connect to the
Internet. Now you are ready to connect to the Internet and begin
registering and updating everything. This is easily done from the list
you made in step 4. I recommend you update all security programs first,
followed by Windows, and then any other software programs. Remember to
also get the latest versions of Adobe Reader (http://www.adobe.com/),
Flash Player, and Shockwave (www.macromedia.com).
- Turn off unnecessary
services. I recommend a few for sure. Go to www.grc.com and get the
ĎThree Musketeersí to turn off Windows Messenger, DCOM, and Plug & Play.
You might also want to disable scripting in Windows Media Player (http://www.javacoolsoftware.com/wmpscriptingfix.html).
That should take care of
setting up your new computer. If, for some reason, you decided not to harden
your system from the Hardening Windows tutorial, I beg you to reconsider and
do it, even if it means you will need to get some help. Trust me, you wonít
be sorry. It is well worth the time and effort.
Enjoy your new computer! Until next time here on 5 Star Support.