After several years of helping non tech savvy neighbors with various problems, I wanted to make this list as a standard advice that anyone should follow. This is not intended to be a list of best practices, rather a list of simple important practices. If you are smart enough to figure out a better solution go for it. I don’t personally follow much of this advice, I just wish my neighbors did.
DO: Use a router when you connect to the internet
DSL or Cable, It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you don’t connect a computer directly to your DSL or cable modem. If you don’t know what this means then you are at risk for having violated this one. Using a router is the first line of defense against involuntary participation in Anonymous. Some providers include a router with the modem but in most cases if you only have 1 little box next to your computer and you don’t have wifi, then you need another one. It doesn’t really matter which one you get so just get one from linksys.
Seriously, if you don’t understand the above have someone help you.
DO: Use Gmail
Don’t use email from your internet company. This means if your email ends with @comcast, @centurylink, @bellsouth etc. then its time to switch to using webmail. There is no best solution here, but they are all better than using @comcast so just sign up for www.gmail.com
DO: Use good passwords
You should probably use 1Password or a similar product or service but you probably won’t so just remember the most important password is the one for your email. DONT USE THIS FOR ANYTHING BUT YOUR EMAIL. Once someone can read your email they can pretty much get all your other passwords if they are clever, so every place you use your email password is a potential place where someone can get all your stuff. Its also a good idea to have another separate password you use only for banking.
Have a personal affirmation statement and use the first character of each word as you password. If you are Stuart Smiley “I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!” your password is Igeise&dgiplm!. That way you can start the day with a little positive thinking.
DO: Turn on Auto Updates and Accept Updates
Always have your operating system set to auto update or notify you and always install all the updates. Same goes for software you installed on your machine.
DO: Buy a Mac
If you have money to spend (like $1500) get the 13in Macbook Pro. Select Apple Care then then Click Add to cart. There isn’t any need to anguish over this.
DO: Okay if you insist or can’t afford a Mac By a Windows PC
If you are trying to save money buy a ASUS laptop for around $400-600$. If you want to spend $1000 on a pc, buy a Mac instead.
DONT: Obsess about Antivirus Software
If you want to purchase something go ahead I won’t stop you. Not doing stupid things, see Below is more important.
DO: Use Google Chrome as your browser
If you don’t understand what that means. Than its ok, keep using the Blue E for be “the internet”.
DONT: Use your PC to look at Porn, or Pirate things
Look I don’t care what you do with your time, and I don’t care about the moral implications of either of those things but this is the kind of stuff that will end up getting your computer infected with viruses etc, and I don’t want to have to come figure out what happened and stumble on your search history.
DONT: Accept any “toolbars”, “spyware cleaners”, “accelerators”, etc.
DONT: Click on any links in an email.
DO: Backup what you care about
If your email is all you care about then gmail will do it for you. If you have other stuff sign up for www.backblaze.com and backup over the internet while you sleep (if your pc is on). Local backups are likely to fall victim to crime, fire, or laziness
DONT: Forward chain emails
No matter how clever, funny, important you think they are.
DONT: Be paranoid about using your computer one the wifi at the coffee shop
Despite what you have read (possibly in a chain email) its not that unsafe. If you are really concerned or have special needs, get a VPN or use your own wireless connection.
DO: Get a no spill coffee (or other beverage) cup
The Contigo is a nice one. Keyboard spills are a pain and they happen to everyone.
DO: Reboot the pc every few days
If you leave your pc on its good to restart it every few days to clean out any crap and make sure you haven’t installed or done something to mess it up. When you get that funky message on startup you might remember what you did if it has only been a day or two since the last reboot.