Selecting and configuring a browser, antivirus and OS to provide maximum security when surfing the internet

A multitude of factors ranging from the precautions and rules observed by users when surfing the web, to user, default OS and antivirus settings, as well as internet gateway protection, just to name a few, determine how secure your computer is when surfing the web. However, we would like to offer the following advice and recommendations:

  1. The Opera 11 and Firefox 5 browsers are more secure than the previous versions of Opera and Firefox. Microsoft Internet Explorer 9.0 is significantly more secure than previous versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer.

  2. It goes without saying that it's safer to work with an antivirus than without:

  3. It's also best to have a firewall installed and correctly configured. A correctly setup firewall only allows essential network activity. You can enable your firewall as follows:

    • Microsoft Windows XP:

      Start —> Control panel —> Security —> Windows Firewall —> On;

    • Microsoft Windows 7:

      Start —> Control Panel (View by: Category) —> System and Security —> Windows Firewall —> Turn Windows Firewall on or off —> click "Turn on Windows Firewall" for home or work (private) networks and Public networks.

  4. It is much safer to use an account with limited rights than a local administrator, let alone a domain administrator account. In addition, we recommend you:

    • Ensure the access rights of the account match the computer skills and the responsibilities of those using it.

    • Refrain from using simple passwords such as "qwerty" or "1234" when securing the administrator account. The password should comprise a minimum of 11 characters in both upper and lower case, numbers and symbols.

  5. Microsoft Windows 7 is the most secure Windows operating system for work stations. UNIX-based OS (including Linux, BSD, and Industrial UNIX) are more secure than most other popular operating systems.

  6. Any software, including operating systems, that updates itself is generally considered more resilient to online threats. Updates can be enabled as follows:

    • Microsoft Windows XP:

      Start —> Control Panel —> Security —> Automatic Updates —> Automatic.

    • Microsoft Windows 7:

      Start —> Control Panel (View by: Category) —> System and Security —> Turn automatic updating on or off —> Select "Important updates: Install updates automatically".

  7. Unofficial versions and software distributed unofficially (on counterfeit disks, torrents and illegal website mirrors) are not as safe as those acquired through official channels.

  8. Security and precaution go hand in hand. Make backups of all your important documents because viruses often block access to your computer, encrypt or corrupt your data beyond repaid. Paying hackers to restore access to your data just serves to fund the development and distribution of new, more sophisticated viruses.

Security almost always comes at the cost of convenience. A computer, the security features of which are completely disabled, imposes no restrictions requiring additional confirmations, actions or effort from the user. Antiviruses frequently slow computers down, while logging in and switching accounts can also be irritating.

However, losing files and data, which may include important documents, precious photographs, backups, music, online payment details, as well as IM, social network and online gaming information, is often more costly. The amount of time alone required to restore your information and computer usually takes longer than it would to follow secure internet surfing practices over several years.