How to Use the Internet Safely, Part 3: How to Make Your Computer Insecure

Note: This article was originally written on Reich Web Consulting has narrowed its focus to the web and no longer offers tech support services, so we’ve moved all of our tech support content off-site. We hope you find this article useful. It is provided as-is, and we will no longer provide support on this topic.

In the previous article I talked about the many ways in which people try to make money off of your Internet activity and how that can lead to a slow computer or something much worse.

In this video I intentionally turn off all of the security on my Windows 7 computer so that, in the next video, I can show you just how dangerous the Internet can be when you use it unprotected. In this video we disable the following features:

Windows Update

The second Tuesday of each month Microsoft releases updates to their software. Believe it or not they call this day Patch Tuesday, and it be celebrated with at least as much fervor as Ash Wednesday but not as much as Doughnut Day.

Occasionally Microsoft finds flaws in their software and they release “patches” to fix them. Sometimes these flaws can be exploited by hackers to gain access to your computer. That’s why it’s so important to update your software.

Of course in this exercise we want the computer to be insecure. So I disable Windows Update by clicking Start, typing Windows Update and pressing enter, clicking Change Settings, and selecting Never Check for Updates.

Internet Explorer Protected Mode

Protected Mode is a feature of Internet Explorer that makes it more difficult for unwanted programs from the Internet to run on your computer. When Protected Mode is enabled Internet Explorer will ask you before opening any external programs or starting browser plug-ins, such as Java or Adobe Flash Player. Protected Mode is important because browser plug-ins are a common vehicle for malware to invade your computer.

Since we want invaded in this exercise I went ahead and disabled Protected Mode by opening Internet Explorer, opening the Tools menu and selecting Internet Options, clicking the Security Tab, then deselecting Enable Protected Mode.

Windows Firewall

Windows Firewall is the gatekeeper that allows data in and out of your computer across networks such as your home or business network and the Internet. The built-in firewall can block network traffic based on what program it’s coming from, what network port it’s being sent or received from, and a variety of other criteria. Windows Firewall is important because it can prevent malicious data from entering your computer in the first place.

But in this exercise we’re all about malicious data. So we turn off Windows Firewall by clicking Start, typing Windows Firewall and selecting Windows Firewall with Advanced Security, right-clicking the Windows Firewall with Advanced Security tab and selecting Properties, then setting the Firewall State to “Off” under the Domain, Private, and Public profiles.

Windows Defender/Security Essentials

Windows Defender (also referred to as Security Essentials) is Microsoft’s built-in antivirus/antimalware application. It performs scheduled scans of your files to check for infections. It can also use Real Time protection which scans files as you access them. Real Time Protection can prevent malicious software from harming your computer by scanning it as soon as it downloads from the Internet.

I disabled Windows Defender by searching for it on the Start Menu, clicking Tools and then Settings, selecting Real Time Protection then removing the check from the Turn on Real-Time Protection option.

User Account Control

User Account Control is the Windows Feature that asks you for permission before a program can make changes to your computer. Before a program can install itself to your computer or perform many other changes that could be harmful, Windows will ask you for permission. Unfortunately many users turn off User Account Control because they either don’t understand it or find it annoying, but it’s important to keep it turned on to keep your computer protected.

In the Next Video…

Now that I’ve disabled the security on my computer, in the next video I’m going to show you just how dangerous the Internet can be when you surf unprotected.

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