How to secure a Windows ME system connected to the internet? [closed]

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QUESTION :

I am about to re-install Windows ME on an old Dell Dimension 4300. The computer is connected to the internet via a 2Wire 3600HGV DSL modem/router.

What do I need to secure the computer?

  • Do I need a software firewall? Or is the router sufficient?
  • Is antivirus software necessary if I don’t download anything?

It will be part of a local LAN, so I don’t want to jeopardize any of the other PCs on the home network.

NOTE: I’m looking to run some older (non-DOS) computer games that don’t run well (or at all) on XP and newer systems.

NOTE 2: When I say ‘secure’, I’m not looking to actively browse the web on the machine. I was curious as to what risks I be facing if I simply had this PC connected to my local network (and thus the internet).

ANSWER :

Either:

  1. Disconnect it from the internet, or
  2. Isolate it from the internet via hardware firewall

Windows ME is unsupported and has been for the better part of a decade. I regularly see malware that will infect it.

At the risk of sounding like a zealot, what do you need that machine for? You may want to consider running Kubuntu or another friendly Linux distribution on it.

Windows ME left extended support on July 11th, 2006. It is no longer possible to secure that operating system.

For comparison, Windows XP is leaving extended support on April 8, 2014. At that time, it will no longer be supported either, and you should assume it cannot be securely connected to a network.

I’ve just looked up some of the specifications of the Dell Dimension.
It would be easier and safer just to install a lightweight distribution of Linux. (Crunchbang, Puppy, Lubuntu to name a few).
If you want Windows, try installing Windows XP as Windows ME does not have any regular security updates and most of the newer browsers require XP and up.

Sorry for the off-topic. You should be fine with the inbuilt firewall of the router.

As for the Anti-Virus, it’s a good practice to have one on a Windows computer, but the key-word is common sense. Don’t visit suspicious websites, don’t go beyond your personal ‘safe-zone’ and you shouldn’t get any viruses. If you do, by any chance get a virus, download and run a on-demand scanner, fix the problem and uninstall it.

Even when it was supported, windows me was a bit of a pig, and most enthusiasts in the know preferred windows 98se. I had a pretty good experience with it, mainly cause I was lucky enough to accidentally ‘upgrade’ windows 98 with it, and it still worked.

Most Antivirus does not work with windows 98 – heck I remember having trouble finding an AV that would work on the very excellent windows 2000(which might be a better option here!). clamwin is about the only regularly updated option. Firewalls… I haven’t even bothered looking – if you can seperate the windows 98 box into its own vlan, that might be great. Being able to connect to the local network may be of limited use, depending on whether windows me supports smb/cifs (its been so long I’ve forgotten)

To me, the smart money is on isolating the system from the network totally, and should you need to download anything to the system, sneakernet it, or boot into a more modern OS (linux as suggested) for anything that needs the net.

In the modern context, windows me is a curiosity, that really belongs in the side show tent. Treat it that way.

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