Simon Willison’s Weblog


PCs for non-geeks

29th October 2003

A couple of interesting links about the security problems faced by the vast majority of the home PC using public, who don’t know how to install security updates (or even what they are) and don’t have a corporate IT department to bail them out when they run in to problems. Joe Average User Is In Trouble is a column by a security expert bemoaning the scale of the problem. Do we all need a personal system administrator? is a call for advice from Steve Garrity for tips on minimising the support calls he gets from his parents, and includes an excellent response from Matt Haughey in the comments.

I’ve been called to a less-geeky friend’s PC before to find it so infested with malware that it had slowed to a crawl. Most security breaches seem to come from Internet Explorer and Outlook Express, so Matt’s advice to replace them with Firebird and Thunderbird seems like a particularly good idea. Placing PCs behind a hardware router is a great idea as well as it at least prevents nasty traffic from the internet from probing the computer—although as Adam Kalsey points out such a set up won’t prevent malicious software that has already snuck its way on to a PC from calling home.

This is PCs for non-geeks by Simon Willison, posted on 29th October 2003.

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