Securing a New Ubuntu Installation and General Security Advice for Ubuntu

A common concern with computers is security. Now that you have a new Ubuntu installation, what do you need to do it make it secure? Very little in fact. This guide has some easy to follow steps and practices that will help you keep your Installation and data secure.

Don't Break It

The default Ubuntu install is quite secure, but if you start installing new stuff or changing the configuration of the system, you might change that. Understand what you install. Only install software that is in the Ubuntu Software Center. Install third party software at your own risk. And beware of changing settings you are not familiar with. If you need assistance feel free to reach out for support.

Keep you computer up to date

As with any Operating system Ubuntu will want to install software updates, let it do so. These updates not only include bug fixes, they also include patches for security issues. When they stop releasing updates (regular releases get updates for 18-months), upgrade to a newer version of Ubuntu. To upgrade (see UpgradeNotes).

Be Cautious with e-mails.

  • Be aware of Phishing emails http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phishing

  • Be careful with email attachments. Ensure its from someone you know.
  • Dont open attachments from unknown sender's.
  • Do no reply to spam and Phishing emails. Attempt to avoid opening them.

Passwords

Do NOT recycle passwords between different web sites and accounts. This is general advice that isn't specific to Ubuntu. If you use the same password for multiple sites and services and the site you visit, lets say xyz.com is hacked and the database that contains passwords and user names is compromised, then they now have your password for every site you used that same information with. To prevent this, use different passwords.

Choose good passwords (see StrongPasswords).

  • Dont use passwords based on personal information.
  • Dont use words that are in any Dictionary.
  • Use a combination of lower and uppercase characters, numbers, and special characters.

General Good Practices

Backups

As a general rule of thumb, always backup your data. When you backup your data store it in a secure location. For extremely crucial data or for users that are highly cautious it's common to have multiple backups on different mediums stored in different locations in the event of a Natural or unexpected disaster. For more information on how to backup your Ubuntu installation (see BackupYourSystem).

Wifi and Wireless Internet

  • Change your routers Default password.
  • Use wireless encryption.
  • Use SSL

Other Controversial Thoughts

These are some things to consider that are not completely mainstream and may be controversial but are worth mentioning.

Worry About Javascript.

Every web site seems to want to use it, but most Firefox security holes that are discovered require Javascript.

Consider installing the Firefox extension "NoScript", it lets you decide whether to let a website run Javascript (a little menu in the bottom corner of the browser window makes it easy), by default most web sites are not allowed. Turn on Javascript for your bank, turn it on for favorite sites you trust, but mostly keep it off. You will be safer and your computer will run faster.

What about Firewalls?

You don't need one for a simple Ubuntu installation.

A firewall can prevent some types of attacks on your computer by blocking unsolicited network connections from the outside, and Ubuntu includes firewall software. However, a default installation of Ubuntu isn't listening to any unsolicited connections from the outside anyway, so in this case a firewall offers no additional protection.

Installing a firewall won't hurt your security per se, but there are two indirect risks to consider:

  1. Networking is complicated, and correctly configuring a firewall can be complicated. You might configure things incorrectly, resulting in a firewall that either doesn't do anything, or a firewall that interferes with your use of the computer.
  2. Though firewalls can get extremely sophisticated (and also extremely complicated), there is a limit to what they can accomplish. If installing a firewall gives you a nice satisfying feeling of security...then it can lead to complacency and a false sense of security. Worry about other aspects of computer security first.

Thank you for reading the Ubuntu Security Advice Documentation.

UbuntuSecurityAdvice (last edited 2012-01-18 21:51:59 by tom6)