How to secure your PC

Bruce Schneier, founder and CTO of Counterpane Internet Security, Inc., has written an update to his earlier article on securing home PCs.

The updated article is full of useful advice such as recommending that you don’t use Microsoft Windows (“Buy a Macintosh or use Linux”), Microsoft Office (“Look into one of the free office suites as an alternative”) or Internet Explorer (“Don’t use Microsoft Internet Explorer, period”).

The article has been criticised, though, mostly for being too technical. This is a fair criticism imho, because Bruce himself in the article says it is “to give home users concrete actions they could take to improve security”.

Now, I don’t know what kind of home users Bruce is exposed to but I have met users who deleted files from their hard disk because they received an error message saying they were running short of virtual memory! These are the average home users and you know they wouldn’t have the first clue what Bruce means when he says “Limit use of cookies and applets to those few sites that provide services you need. Set your browser to regularly delete cookies” for instance, and as for suggesting that people microwave their CDs, I won’t even comment on that.

The advice Bruce gives is generally sound, for people who know what they are doing, that is. Most home users don’t fall into this category, unfortunately. There is no easy way to help home users until there are popular, secure and easy to use operating systems and applications readily available. That day hasn’t arrived yet.