What three things you really MUST do to help keep your Windows computer secure...
Viruses: software that typically spreads by email. Viruses typically need to be activated by opening a file or attachment of some sort. This can occur either manually or sometimes automatically by buggy email software.
Worms: Worms are similar to viruses, but typically do NOT use email to propagate. Worm software infects a computer through security holes in the computer's operating system. Worm software on infected computers explores the Internet looking for other vulnerable computers. An analogy would be dialing phone numbers to 1) find a phone that rings and 2) hoping someone vulnerable answers.
Spyware: This software typically includes software that causes pop-ups, browser home-page changes, and tracking your Internet surfing habits.
Secure against Virus attacks...
I recommend in almost every newsletter to use a quality antivirus software package and keep it updated. If you have the "auto-update" turned on, you may think you are all set. I'm not so sure. For instance Norton's Live Update does not always update the instant there is a new update available. What can happen (and HAS happened recently) is that if a new virus is released, sometimes it can reach your computer before the updated virus definitions do. I recommend manually running a live update every morning BEFORE you check your email. (Most viruses travel via email.) Antivirus software typically attempts to protect against worms, but that is actually stopping the worm from exploiting an operating system flaw.
Secure against Worm attacks...
The best defense against a worm attack is to keep your Windows software (especially 2000 and XP) updated using Windows update. In XP, right click on "My Computer", pick properties, then the Automatic Updates tab. Set it to do it automatically if your computer is always on and online, or to download automatically and notify. Never procrastinate on the installation. Here is a link to a great article on worms. http://reviews-zdnet.com.com/AnchorDesk/4520-7297_16-5132868.html?tag=adss It is a very good idea to run the Windows Update manually at least once a week and install any critical updates it finds. A firewall is also useful against some worms. If you are using a cable or DLS Internet connection and share it, use a router that contains a firewall. Most units are under $100 and do a respectable job.
Secure against Spyware...
This is tough... spyware typically gets into your computer with "free" software. Weatherbug, search toolbars, memory and Internet "enhancers", etc. can all contain spyware. Some are very deceptive... a pop-up ad generated by browsing a web site shows an advertisement for something you don't want, so you click on the "X" to close the windows. Except the "X" is not really the close icon, it is just part of the advertisement's graphic and actually tells your computer you just agreed to the spyware installation. Use ALT-F4 to close pop-up windows. That is guaranteed to work. It is very difficult to avoid spyware, and it is evolving constantly. Here is a link to Microsoft's discussion on Spyware... http://www.microsoft.com/mscorp/twc/privacy/spyware.mspx I recommend using Adaware... available at http://www.lavasoftusa.com . Download it, install it, UPDATE IT, then run it AT LEAST weekly. Remove everything it finds.
Protecting against other threats...
Phishing... yes, that's spelled correctly... it's another name for attempts to get your money, bank information, etc. You've seen emails from Africa, you get 20% of the $25 million estate, etc. Some are much more convincing. Look at this email I received. All the links are legitimate, EXCEPT the one you are supposed to click. It routes you to a server apparently in Korea.
PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING IS FALSE!!!!!
Member's Guide to the Latest news at PayPal
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The IP address in the link points to Danda Soft- a Korean web site.
Lastly, but most importantly... backup your stuff!!! Things break at the worst times. As the Boy Scouts say..."Be prepared".
Until next time... Happy Computing !
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