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Ask Slashdot: How Would You Secure Your Parents' PC? 408

Posted by timothy
from the what's-the-late-2013-version? dept.
New submitter StirlingArcher writes "I've always built/maintained my parents' PC's, but as Mum has got older her PC seems to develop problems more readily. I would love to switch her to Linux, but she struggles with change and wants to stay with Vista and MS Office. I've done the usual remove Admin rights, use a credible Internet Security package. Is there anything more dramatic that I could do, without changing the way she uses her PC or enforcing a new OS on her again? One idea was to use a Linux OS and then run Vista in a VM, which auto-boots and creates a backup image every so often. Thanks for any help!"
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Ask Slashdot: How Would You Secure Your Parents' PC?

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  • Linux (Score:3, Interesting)

    by used2win32 (531824) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @12:55PM (#45695725)
    My in-laws were having Windows XP issues, so I upgraded them to Mint. Zero support calls to me since then - and they like it...
  • by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich@aol.cTWAINom minus author> on Sunday December 15, 2013 @12:58PM (#45695751) Journal

    My mom uses her Win7 machine as a User, and not as an Administrator.

    You can avoid 99% of viruses, phishing, and other BS simply by taking away administrator rights.

  • Firefox + NoScript (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 15, 2013 @01:08PM (#45695823)

    If she already uses Firefox, great, if not, see if she can accept it. If she does, then add NoScript in and pre-configure it to only allow scripts from the sites she visits and their legit links and support sites. Basically, walk through her bookmarks and URL shortcuts and give just enough privileges to make the site load properly. That'll block a lot of the skeevy ads from appearing and protect against the vast majority of X-site scripting. You may still have to deal with new sites "not working" from time to time.

    You may also want to install WOT (Web of Trust) if your existing security package doesn't block dangerous sites. That'll put a big warning screen up on any sites that are recognized as unsafe.

    Also, if you can at least get her to upgrade to Win 7, that should stay in her comfort zone while giving you a few more generations of security updates.

    Unless she absolutely needs it, uninstall Java.

    And finally, since you have her off of Admin rights, I'm assuming you are doing all the administration-otherwise she'll forget some day and go out on the web when logged in as Admin. In that case, you'll have to go over there once a month to update Windows, Firefox, Adobe Flash+Reader and possibly Java. Or at least every three months.

  • Re:Linux (Score:4, Interesting)

    by johnnys (592333) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @01:17PM (#45695931)
    The last time my 82 year old father-in-law visited, he wanted to check some web news sites so I handed him my netbook running Ubuntu. Half an hour later, I told him he was using a Linux system and he was happily surprised since he was used to Win7.

    What I learned at that moment is that IF you provide a good system running Linux and presenting the apps a user needs in a usable way, THEN the user doesn't really care whether it's Linux or whatever. Firefox and Thunderbird and Libre Office really are good enough (or better) for any "normal" user doing "normal" things.

    I haven't converted his home system yet, only because he has a son who does support for him, so it's Not My Problem. :)

  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @01:48PM (#45696259) Homepage Journal

    Well, actually, if I were to accidentally bump my head or something, and suddenly found myself incapable of administering a computer, I do have one son whom I could trust. The other two are computer nitwits. Not computer illiterates, but nitwits. They KNOW that certain things are dangerous, but they just don't care. The smart mouth tweeners you mention, to be precise.

The only thing cheaper than hardware is talk.