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Computer Self-Defense

Part 1 - The Internet

- by Lizzz Russell

There are many products that can help protect you on the internet. I will be suggesting/recommending products for you to use, but if you like a different product better than the one I suggest, please use it.

To be protected on the internet, you need the following:

At a Minimum

  1. A certified, up-to-date antivirus program
  2. An up-to-date antispyware program
  3. A firewall
  4. Security patches for your operating system
  5. To think before you link

Optional additions:

  1. A junk file deletion program
  2. An antispam program
  3. Disconnect when you are not using your internet connection
  4. A bot detector (do not add this if you have a security suite)
  5. Changing certain system settings that enhance protection
  6. Security patches for all the programs on your computer
  7. Using a Limited Account instead of Administrator account for surfing.
  8. Knowledge about current threats.
  9. An OFF-LINE backup of your files

General Considerations

Virus protection is a service that does not automatically come with your computer. Many computers come with free trials, but after X amount of days, that free trial runs out. If you do not keep updated protection and you connect to the internet, your computer is doomed.

One problem I see over and over is that virus protection was installed AFTER a virus infected the computer. Once a virus gets a grip on your computer, installing an antivirus program usually won't detect or get rid of the virus anymore. I recently repaired a computer that had been infected for 3 years. Antivirus protection had been installed on it 2 years 10 months ago, and the antivirus program had been updated regularly. It did not matter to the virus, for it had control of the computer and was therefore able to continuously infect other computers for 3 years without getting caught.

If you suspect your computer might have a virus, PLEASE take it to a technician and have it checked and then have protection installed.

Another thing I urge you to do is to get rid of junk files before you do anything else. This is so you do not waste your time on garbage. Plus, and this is a big plus, bad programs often love to hide among junk files.

Where do junk files come from and how can I get some?

For starters, a copy of every page you visit on the internet is copied to your hard drive into a hidden folder called Temporary Internet Files. Some forms of spyware make copies of Temporary Internet Files. I have found as many as seven copies of these files on a single hard drive.

In addition, every time you print or scan a picture or write a letter, the computer creates a temporary file. Once the task has been performed, the temporary file becomes junk.

There are other junk sources as well.

My all-time favorite junk remover program is CCleaner. I recommend downloading it from www.filehippo.com. You don't have to do this, but it is usually the first thing I do when I am going to repair a computer.

A Certified Antivirus Program

Make sure that the antivirus program you run is certified. All the big name brand programs are certified, but there are antivirus programs out there that are not certified, and BELIEVE IT OR NOT, there are over 250 antivirus programs that are actually viruses lurking on the internet.. You can read more about rampant fake antivirus programs and see actual examples that I took off of infected computers in Changing Threats on The Internet.

Fake anti virus software catches 43 million users' credit cards

    Some of the certified antivirus programs that I see frequently are (in alphabetical Order):
  • Avast
  • AVG
  • Norton/Symantec
  • McAfee
  • P-Cillin (Trend Micro)
  • Radialpoint/Authentium (Verizon Internet Security Suite)

If you don't see your favorite antivirus program on this list, you can click on any of the following certifying organization links to check your product:

West Coast Labs Certification ICSA Labs Certification Virus Bulletin Certification

An antivirus problem that I have seen hundreds, perhaps thousands, of times is that people buy protection but their virus programs are NOT being updated.

At least ONCE PER WEEK, open your antivirus program by double-left-clicking on it and take a look at the overall status.

Almost all antivirus programs have the option of running an on-demand update by right-clicking on the icon in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen and then left-clicking on Update.

My Recommendations

If you can afford to buy an antivirus program or if you own a business or bank or trade stocks online, I would highly suggest buying a comprehensive suite that has everything--antivirus, antispyware, firewall, antispam, and root kit detection. Don't just buy another year of updates--buy the whole enchilada!

My current favorites for Microsoft Windows are currently AVG Internet Security and Norton 360. Both are pretty easy to use, both have an option to purchase multiple years of protection, and both are at at a reasonable price. Commodo and McAfee are also very good. If you just love some other program, use it; just don't go without.

If you want free, my #1 favorite is AVG free. Beware--the license is NOT free for business, and it is only free for one computer per household. Do not violate licenses. (See my article about Changes in the Copyright Laws.)

My #2 favorite for home use is Avast.

Both of these free antivirus programs are available from filehippo.com, and they both also scan for spyware.

If you have a business and want free, there is Clam Antivirus

If you own a a Mac, you can get free protection from ClamXav or from iAntiVirus

For a paid version for Mac, there is Norton Internet Security for Macs

For Linux systems, there are AVG and Clam AV

Antispyware

The current recommended method of protection is to have only one program for each protection function--one program to fight viruses, one program to fight spyware, etc.

I am going make one exception to this strategy and recommend adding Malwarebytes in addition to whatever you have. This is because time and time again, I have found Malwarebytes finds spyware that other antispyware programs miss. It is also available from filehippo.com

Firewall

While Microsoft Windows comes with a firewall for Windows XP and later, the firewall is rather inadequate.

For personal users, you can download the Commodo or Zone Alarm personal free firewall from filehippo.com.

For business users, your best bet is to purchase an all-in-one-security suite, but you could also use the Commodo firewall.

Program Updates

Computer programs often have little mistakes and vulnerabilities in them. When mistakes are found and corrected or vulnerabilities are found and patched, udpates are issued.

Windows updates may or may not automatically run on the computer you are using.

You can run Windows updates for yourself by left-clicking on the Start (Windows XP/Vista/7) or the Round Windows button (Vista/7) in the bottom left-hand corner of your screen, left-clicking on Programs or All Programs and then left-clicking on Windows Update.

For Windows XP, you can also get all the hardward updates by left-clicking on the Custom button and then adding optional hardware updates.

For Windows XP, Vista, and 7, you can opt to get updates for all Microsoft Products. That is the best way to go!

Think before you link

Don't just click on links in emails.

If a website address looks questionable, don't go there. Countless people have gotten viruses because they clicked on sucker links such as "See Anna Kornikova naked" or "See Ben Franklin peeing" or a link for a package that you were not expecting that could not be delivered. If you want to go to a real webpage--such as your bank or the IRS or UPS or the USPS or a stock broker's website, type it in the address bar yourself. Don't take a chance on clicking any financial links from emails!!!!!.

Optional additions:

  1. An antispam program
  2. Here are two free antispam programs:

    • Spamihilator
    • Mailwasher

  3. Disconnect your internet connection when you are not using it.

  4. Think of viruses and other internet irritants as if they were moths, flies, and wasps at your door. Think of your firewall as a screen door. It will keep out most of the pests, but there might be a hole in the screen. If you close the main door, they cannot come in at all.

    The easiest way to close the main door for high speed internet is to just disconnect the network cable or turn off your modem.

    For dial-up, just unplug your telephone cord from your computer.

    If you have high speed internet and a regular phone cord is plugged in, unplug it forever because you do not need it. You can tell the difference between a regular phone cord and a high speed network cord by looking at the number of contacts on the end of the cord. If it has 2 or 4 contacts, it is a phone cord. If it has 8 contacts, it is network cord.

  5. A bot detector. If your computer runs fine most of the time but then all of a sudden starts running really, really slow for a while, your computer might be being secretly controlled by somebody else. In other words, it is a roBOT, a Zombie. And you would not be alone if your computer is being secretly controlled. It is estimated that somewhere around 100 million computers worldwide are being secretly controlled. The collective group is called a botnet or THE ZOMBIE NETWORK. If you have the feeling that something is not quite right with your computer, you could find out if it is being used as a bot please click here.


  6. Changing certain system settings can enhance protection


  7. Security patches for all the programs on your computer
  8. Microsoft automatically patches its products, but what about all the other programs bugs and vulnerabilities on your computer from everybody else?

    A company called Secunia has one of the best programs that I have ever used to find the updates for all the other programs


  9. Use a limited user account in Windows or activate the Guest account for surfing.
  10. For Windows XP, many of the disgusting things that get installed in computers cannot be installed when using a limited account.

    How to Set Up A Limited Account

  11. Knowledge about current threats.
  12. Please read my articles. If you've already read my articles, you can read any updates to the articles by left-clicking on the change log.

  13. Have an OFF-LINE backup of your files

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