Securing Windows Hosts: Best Practices and Tips

Fahri Korkmaz
3 min readFeb 1, 2023

It is widely known that Windows is one of the most popular operating systems in use today, and it is estimated that over 90% of desktop computers and laptops run Windows. This number is likely even higher when it comes to organizations and businesses, as many of them standardize on Windows for their systems. Additionally, Windows Server is also widely used by many organizations as a server operating system.

As more and more organizations rely on Windows-based systems, it is crucial to ensure that these hosts are secure. A security breach on a Windows host can lead to data loss, financial damage, and reputational harm. In this article, we will discuss some best practices and tips for securing Windows hosts.

Keep your system up to date

One of the most important things you can do to secure your hosts is to ensure that they are running the latest version of the operating system, as well as any other software that is installed on them. Microsoft regularly releases security updates and patches for Windows, and installing them as soon as they become available is crucial for protecting your system from known vulnerabilities.

Use a firewall

A firewall is an essential tool for protecting your hosts from external threats. A firewall can block incoming traffic from known malicious sources, and it can also monitor outgoing traffic to prevent data exfiltration. Windows has a built-in firewall that can be configured to suit your needs, but you may also consider using a third-party firewall for additional protection.

Implement strong authentication

Passwords are the most common form of authentication, but they are not always the most secure. Passwords can be guessed, stolen, or cracked, so it’s important to implement strong authentication methods to protect your Windows hosts. Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a great option, as it requires a second form of identification in addition to a password. Other options include smart card-based authentication and biometric authentication.

Limit user privileges

Another important aspect of securing Windows hosts is limiting user privileges. By default, users have full access to the system, but this can be a security risk. Instead, you should assign users the minimum privileges they need to do their job. This will help to prevent users from installing software or making changes to the system that could introduce vulnerabilities.

Use anti-virus software

A good anti-virus program can help to protect your Windows hosts from malware and other malicious software. Anti-virus software can scan your system for known threats, and it can also monitor your network traffic for signs of suspicious activity. It’s important to keep your anti-virus software up to date, as new threats are constantly emerging.

But Anti Virus Solutions also pose risks. Some of the main risks associated with AV solutions include:

  1. False positives: AV solutions may sometimes flag legitimate files or software as malware, leading to false positives. This can cause problems for users, such as being unable to access important files or having software they rely on being blocked or removed.
  2. False negatives: AV solutions may not always detect malware, even when it is present on a system. This is known as a false negative, and it can leave a computer or network vulnerable to attack.
  3. Performance impact: AV solutions can consume system resources, such as memory and CPU, which can slow down a computer or server. This can be especially problematic for systems that need to perform at a high level, such as servers or workstations used by power users.
  4. Update and maintenance: Anti-virus software requires regular updates to the malware definitions and software. If the software is not updated, it can become ineffective and leave systems open to vulnerabilities.
  5. Complexity: Some anti-virus solutions can be complex to install and configure, which can be a challenge for organizations with limited IT resources.
  6. Cost: Some anti-virus solutions can be expensive, and the cost can add up over time, especially if an organization has many systems that need to be protected.
  7. Dependence: Reliance on anti-virus software as a sole defense mechanism may not be enough to protect a computer or network from all possible attacks.

Use encryption

Encryption is a powerful tool for securing data on your Windows hosts. It can protect sensitive information, such as financial data and personal information, from being accessed by unauthorized users. Windows has built-in encryption tools, such as BitLocker, that can be used to encrypt the entire system or specific files and folders.