Thursday, June 5, 2014

Protecting Your PC

Everyone who has ever used a Personal Computer with the Windows® operating system has probably at some time came across Viruses, Spyware, and even Malware. Now some people may not know what Malware is, so let me get to that first, Malware is essentially software or malicious code running on your computer, it was most likely installed when you visited a web page or downloaded a software from the internet, but that's not the only place you can get them.

Malware is actually the most common computer problem that most computer users will run into, viruses are usually contracted from Email or when you don't have a firewall setup (Windows® Firewall is just fine!), so don't open emails that you don't know who sent it! From my experience, there are a few great programs that can protect your computer from most problems found on the internet, so let me start talking about those.

This program is undoubtedly one of the best free Anti-Malware softwares available, it can be installed on any computer, regardless of the setup, provided it's a Windows® PC.

(NOTE: This is the most critical of all software that I'd highly recommend you use!)

MVPS Hosts is a special little simple program that rewrites your "Host" file, which in turn will block MOST (99%) Ads & Popups, and protects your computer from Browser Hijacking, which is rather complex to explain, but basically it's where your browser get tampered with or rendered inoperable. It's in a .zip file, so it will need to be unpacked, and once you unpack it, if you are using Windows® Vista® or newer (7/8), then you will need to Right Click on the "mvps" bat file and select "Run As Administrator".  (This is a highly trusted solution & most real techs use it!)

Script Block for Google Chrome ®
NoScript Security Suite for Firefox ®
Blocking scripts on web pages are so very vital to preventing "Sniffing Attacks", which is where you enter a website and your hard drive goes into hyper-work while the site sniffs all of the data on your computer, and yes I'm not joking it happens (Especially on a lot of news sites).  Sorry Safari users, you'll have to dig to find what works for Safari, though a lot of people recommend JavaScript Blocker.

This is a great Virus Scanner / Malware Scanner, it's free if you have a legal copy of Windows® installed, and it works quite well too I might add. One thing you should note is, you MUST remove any viruses scanners installed on your computer, before you install this virus scanner! This scanner has a lot of nice features, so do go through it and learn it well. On a side note, you must have a valid copy of Windows® in order to use this program!

Spybot S&D® for a long time has been a great little free Anti-Spyware scanner, with some very nice additional advanced features, but it will take some time to learn the advanced features. Some features may not work with certain browsers, like Immunization of Cookies, but other features still work great. Sure there are better programs out there, but I've found this one to do the job on infected computers quite well.

IMPORTANT NOTE: All of the programs above are NOT for Commercial purposes and are only intended for Home Users, so if you are a business, sorry.

I'd also like to talk about Backup, because even though you can have the best tools to protect or clean up an infected PC Computer, no system is 100% bulletproof in the digital age we now live in, therefore it is paramount that you learn to backup your files on your computer. That means buy an External Hard Drive and put all the files you wish to save on that drive, and then more important disconnect the drive from your computer. You should back up at least 2 to 3 times a week if you do a lot of downloading or file creating, and if you are constantly creating files and worry about data loss, then I'd highly recommend you use an automated backup software. I'd recommend Cobian Backup® 11 (Free) or Karen's Replicator® (Free). Both should be easy enough for you to learn if you are even a remotely proficient computer user.

Another thing I'd like to add is, you really should make sure your computer is up to date, using the Windows® Update in your Control Panel, to insure that you have all of the latest update, this can help against known (& fixed) vulnerabilities in browsers & software or the Operating System itself.

If your computer is infected, I'd highly recommend you back it up and do a fresh install of Windows on your computer, rather than going to go through the trouble of trying to fix what's already messed up. That way with a fresh start you know nothing is wrong. Properly setting up a computer is so critical! I cannot teach you about this subject, but there is one more thing you may need, and that is, if your computer will not boot up into Windows®, then I'd recommend you download Ubuntu® and use the Free Live CD (You will have to burn a CD), and you can get help from the Ubuntu® Official Site.

One thing you need to keep in mind is, you should never use a simple password, like names, words, dates, etc, and you will want to use a different password for each web site, also change them frequently, like every month or so.  The largest part about security is protecting others from hacking your accounts online, so don't store any information about your accounts anywhere people can physically access them or obtain them through searching your computer, and that is so very important to understand.

With so many web sites running HTML5 or Scripting once you enter their web site, they will often scan your computer for any data they can extract from it, and so it's imperative to clear your browser of everything that is tracked or stored, like cookies, passwords, etc.  The largest part of most malicious code is ran through advertising, which will install software on your computer unaware believe it or not, and so you want to make sure that you have the Ad Blocking software I listed above. (MVPS Hosts)

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