Check My Sidebar For New Links To Secure Your PC

Please have a look at the new links I have added to the sidebar of my blog, to decide if the websites and programs may be useful to you, my readers.I am hopeful that these quick links to online information will help you keep your computers safe and healthy:  

 

There is a new section “News” where I have added several links including my favourite site to help children surf safely on the internet.  The theme and title are “Be Web Aware” and you can rely on it for safe topics and links appealing to children. There are many sites online that are setup to attract children and teenagers that you should be aware of. Know what your children are finding on the internet.  Drop by and check it out, Web Aware will help your child/children remain safe online.   Every computer a child uses should have parental controls activated, as there are many inappropriate websites that children find when they are surfing. If you have Windows XP on your system you can find Parental Control software that can be downloaded and installed at  .  If you have Windows Vista there are built-in Parental Controls for you to use.  There are criminals on the internet looking for children they can exploit and you need to know if your child/children have come in contact with them, before they are exploited by the criminal element.  

 

Another item in the “News” gives you a list of Anti-Spyware forums where you can get help with your PC, infected or not. Also included is a link to a forum where you can Stand-Up and Be Counted among those who want to fight back against the malware writers, and have changes made to the laws in their country that allow them to write malware with impunity.  I have added a few new categories that include Security Information, Free AV Products, Free Firewalls, Free AntiSpyware Products, Free Rootkit and Trojan Scanners, Online Scanners and Anti-Trojan products and Free Security Tools that you can install on your system, as well as links to the original sites and blogs. 

 

“Security Information” contains several sites where you can read reviews on the features and effectiveness of different AV products, AS products, and Firewalls.  Also included are links to sites with information such as Rogue Software products that you should avoid, Steve Gibson’s site that is full of information about Securing your PC, as well as a link to a product called “Belarc Advisor  that will inventory all of your hardware and software.   

 

The Free product sections include links to approved Free Antivirus, AntiSpyware, Firewalls and other security software products that can be used if you are unable to purchase the software.  You require all of these products in this day and age, to keep your computer and yourself safe online. If you are able to afford one but not the others, then please download and install the free products so that you have one of each type of software. However, please remember that you should never have more than one Antivirus product or Firewall protecting your system because more than one will conflict with the other, causing them to be ineffective.  You can have more than one AntiSpyware program as long as only one is setup as a resident program and the others used to scan your PC on a regular basis for malware.  A regular schedule is recommended for a full scan of your hard drive(s) by each of the products you have. The reason that more than one AntiSpyware program is recommended is that they often have definitions for different infections.    Online Scanners including Anti-Virus, Anti-Spyware, Anti-Trojan, and Anti-Dialer, become very useful if you are questioning whether something has taken up residence on your system through email or other download. Often when a PC is infected, the onboard programs on your hard drive (antivirus and/or firewall) are unable to find the infection because those programs which you have relied on to keep your PC safe, have been compromised and no longer protect your system.  If you think you have been infected an Online Scanner is needed to find and remove the infection.  It is wise to run one or more Online Scans on a regular basis because the malware today is insidious and embeds itself in your system, often for a period of time before you become aware of it.  

 

I always recommend that anyone who suspects they have a Malware infection, should visit one of the Anti-Spyware Forums and get help from the trained volunteers.  Many of the malware infections we see today are very invasive,  requiring sophisticated tools and the help of someone who has been trained in the removal of that specific malware so that permanent damage is not done to your files.  Many of the removal tools used now, unlike the tools we used a few years ago, can damage your PC if not used properly, by someone who has been trained in their use.   

 

I hope you find the new sidebar links useful as they are now easier to get to than they were when included in my articles. 

 

Procrastination – Habit or Heredity?

aahhh procrastination…..what causes it?  As far as I’m concerned there are three  types of people in this world, the first type are those that get things done immediately, the second type are those that put everything off until they have too much to do, ie: procrastinate, and third, those that do both depending I think on the fazes of the moon or heredity. I am one of the third group, at times I get things done immediately and at other times I let all the tasks due pile up until I don’t know where to start.  After much thought, I have decided it varies with the fazes of the moon, the weather outside, the state of the nation, heredity, the environment or any common occurrence that impacts decision making capabilities. In other words, I haven’t a clue what causes it and I’d bet that others like me can’t either. Actually heredity is probably my first choice because my father, mother, sister and brothers all suffer the same fate as I do, so it must be in my genes. Since the successful mapping of the human genome several years ago, scientists have found that most things that had been thought to be a result of the environmental impact on people’s lives are in fact in a person’s genetic makeup.  So why shouldn’t procrastination also be related to heredity? Well maybe I’ll think about it some more and then make my decision…..

 

Visit A New Forum For Developers!

There is a new forum that may be of interest to Windows, Linux and/or Cross-Platform developers.  The  Linux and Windows Development  forum was started by my son Darin who has most recently been programming linux software. Interested in programming since he was a child, he continues to find it a very satisfying hobby.  Another area of interest for him is Security for personal computers.  At Linux and Windows Development  he hopes to create an area where programmers can discuss their interests, share their knowledge and ideas about the different Operating Systems, about Security or to just chat.  


His interest in PC Security stems from the knowledge that people are more in danger of being attacked by malware today, than ever before.  Identity Theft has become a major issue, more so because many do not take the threat seriously until they become a victim.  In his forum he hopes to encourage the development of tools and software that will be effective in the fight against today’s malware.


The forum opened recently and Darin is now looking for people to help him  build an inviting place for those with similar interests.  Moderators and FAQ writers for all platforms are also needed.   If you are interested in helping him create a thriving forum for programmers to meet, please drop by Linux and Windows Development  and send him a PM, including your interests and background. 


Even if you do not have time to help, please visit  Linux and Windows Development and take a look around, you may find something that interests you!  Please register at the forum and introduce yourself to everyone.


 


 

Santa Brought You A New PC … 30+ Days and the Clock Is Ticking…

Did you get a new computer for Christmas?  If so, you have probably spent the time since Christmas exploring your computer and surfing the internet to find out what all this Internet fuss is about. Perhaps playing games, watching videos, exploring things you are interested in – hobbies etc., chatting with others, and generally looking around.  In a word you’ve had fun with your new toy! 

 

Included with your new computer are the OS (most likely Windows XP or Windows Vista), some Proprietary software from the manufacturer and some Trial software.  Most manufacturers today no longer include disks containing the Windows Operating System, the proprietary software or the trial software that was on the hard drive of your new PC. In other words, the manufacturere gives you nothing with which to restore your computer to the condition it was in, when you first turned it on.  

 

Instead of disks, the manufacturers provide you with a program that helps you create your own backup disks of the data on your PC when it was purchased.  Many people procrastinate or ignore this procedure because they may not have the CD’s or DVD’s to use for the backup, and they are thrilled with their new PC and anxious to get online to find out what their computer has to offer.  These disks are vital to your future computing needs because at some point in the future, you will have to reinstall everything your computer came with.  This can occur when a problem arises with your hardware, software or as a result of a malware attack. However, if you haven’t created these disks containing the original software, you will be left with a large, very expensive paperweight when your hardware fails, you are the victim of a malware attack, or you have one of a myriad of problems that requires you to reinstall all of your software. 

 

The software included with your new PC, especially the Trial Software needs attention within a short time of starting to use your new PC.  The operative word here is TRIAL, meaning that this software expires after 30, 60 or 90 days and on that date it becomes totally useless!  New PC’s usually have several trial programs, maybe Microsoft Office, a few games and a Security Suite.  Buying Microsoft Office, the games and other trial software are a personal decision that will not affect the security of your new PC at this time. However, the Trial Security Suite Software will affect your security because during the trial you and your PC have been protected by a trial AntiVirus Program, a trial AntiSpyware Program and a trial Firewall as part of the Suite, for 30, 60 or 90 days.  The Trial Security Suite has been your only protection from the evils of the internet including malware, rootkits, Identity Theft etc. for the specified length of time, and at the end of that time it  becomes totally useless if it has not been either purchased or replaced. After just over 30 days of use you may still have time before the trial ends to ensure your PC is protected, preventing you and your computer from becoming a victim of the evils of the Internet. You may think I am exaggerating, but the results of studies have shown that an unprotected computer will become infected with some type of malware, in less than 5 minutes of exposure to the Internet!

 

You’ve now had time to familiarize yourself with your new PC, have searched the internet, played a game or two, sent and received email and you now know how to enjoy your new PC.  Now it’s time for you to take a few minutes  to make sure your fun continues without any unpleasant and nasty interruptions. Start preparing your computer for a safe and secure future with the following:

 

1.      The first thing you need to do
is make the backup disks of all the manufacturer’s software and the Operating
System.  The built-in software from your computer manufacturer only allows you to make ONE copy.   IF YOU DO NOT HAVE THESE BACKUPS, YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO RELOAD YOUR ORIGINAL SOFTWARE INCLUDING THE OS. Use the built-in backup software to make the only copy of your built-in software NOW.  Then put the DVD’s, CD’s or other backup media in a safe place where they can’t be damaged. If you used DVD’s or CD’s, I suggest that you buy cases for the disks to keep them safe from dust and other contaminants

 

2.      Your Anitvirus, Antispyware,
and Firewall program as well as other offerings in the Security Suite on your
new PC, are in most cases TRIALS. Assess each program that is trial software that came with your computer.

·        Is it a Security Suite?  If so you need to make a decision to either BUY it or REPLACE it as soon as possible to maintain continual protection, so that it does not expire leaving you unprotected.

·         If you don’t like the Security Suite that was included with your PC, then check out the available Security Suites on the internet or individual programs Antivirus, Antispyware and/or Firewall.  Download and install them before the trial ends and your security suite expires. You can always use the Windows built-in Firewall and a free Antivirus and/or AntiSpyware such as the ones from AVG, Antivir or Avast while you decide which Security Suite you like best that is easy to use.  Free Security programs are available see my article  Protection For  Your  PC

·        Is it a program like Microsoft Office that you may not want or
need?  If it is a suite of programs like Microsoft Office, do you want it? Is it affordable?  If your answers are yes, then buy the program. The most important protection for any program or suite is to set it up so that when there are updates, they will be downloaded and installed.

 

3.      Setup your AntiVirus,
AntiSpyware and Firewall Programs to update automatically when there are either
updates to the program itself and for new definitions. Your computer is not
protected unless it has the most recent definitions for your programs.

 

4.      Set up Windows to
automatically update your Windows Operating System when an update is available.
If you set it up to notify you of updates, make sure you download them as soon
as possible because it is likely the updates are to close a hole or
vulnerability that has been discovered.

 

5.      For your other programs, check
each program for an update setting in the Options that will automatically update your program.
If there is no update setting in the options, then go to the
developer’s website and arrange to have them notify you when there are updates
by email. You will then receive an email anytime there are updates to the
program, and you will be able to go to the website, download and install the update as
soon as you are notified.

 

6.      You will also need to check
for updates from the manufacturer of your computer because the proprietary
software that came with your PC and usually major updates to the Operating
System, will be available through them. Your hardware including your video
card, audio system, modem, Ethernet card, in fact all of your hardware is
operated by software ‘drivers’. Without these drivers your hardware will not
function. Updated drivers are released regularly by your PC manufacturer.  If by any chance you are unable to sign up to receive email updates, check the manufacturer’s website regularly. I suggest you use a calendar to remind yourself to check for these updates on a regular basis.   

 

7.      If you have any questions
about your computer, the manufacturer of your PC  should be contacted first.  If you do not receive a satisfactory response
to your question, some of the manufacturers have a forum where you can ask questions and receive answers. There are also  many online forums where trained people respond to
users questions. You will find them by using a search engine with the basic
information in your question as the search string.

 

8.      To prevent the loss of all of your personal files, you need to set up a schedule for backing them up onto a DVD or CD or other media.  It is very important to have them backed up onto media that is not accessible to a malware attack or you will lose all of them if/when you have to format your computer. 

 



Whether your OS is Windows XP or Windows Vista, it is absolutely necessary to complete the above. There are many ongoing activities that will keep your computer running well eg: Defragmenting the files on your hard drive which improves the speed of your computer.  Current protection and security with up-to-date definitions is also necessary for a good online experience. Windows Vista is advertised, quite rightly, as the most secure Windows Operating System to date. However, the scumware writers keep busy creating more and more devious ways of infecting innocent users and their computers, to rob you of your positive Internet experience and make your life miserable.  In many cases prevention is far more effective and much less trouble than cleaning up after a malware attack.  Prevention involves keeping ALL of your software and hardware drivers up-to-date.  Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that your PC will remain clean but there is a far better chance of staying clean, if you follow the simple rules of protection and security.