Protecting your System
Ensure your system is protected against all forms of malware, this includes spyware, virus' and tracking ads. Following are some simple steps you can take to reduce the chance of infection - it would be best to do them all, but just getting proactive in choosing your sites carefully, never downloading thing's you're not 100% sure about, and never clicking on those ads that promise youth, sex or money will certainly help. Unfortunately there is no apparent surfing nirvana on the horizon, but following these simple rules will help to ensure you stay untainted for longer.
• Unknown e-mails coming from unknown or distrusted sources should be flagged as spam and instantly deleted. Especially be wary of attachments. If you absolutely have to open them, save them to your hard disk and scan them with an updated antivirus program.
• Delete any chain e-mails or unwanted messages. Do not forward them or reply to their senders. This is spam, and you will be contributing to it if you forward it on. It congests the Internet even more than it already is and wasn't asked for – you will not receive £50,000 if you send it on to 10 friends or 10,000…
• Do not respond to unknown email where it says things like, ‘click here to be removed from our list', you are inadvertently confirming your address is valid and they will sell your address on to even more spammers.
• Don't add places to your most trusted sites unless it is absolutely necessary.
Use Passwords in all windows logins
Ensure you create the Administrator password as the default is blank. Also it is a good idea to completely disable the Guest account. Choose your passwords wisely, not so cryptic that you will forget them, but not your birthday either. Do not make them too short and do not choose anything easy to guess.
When creating user accounts only have one account with administrator privileges and create all other user accounts as restricted users - especially for children. This will prevent them from installing things you don't know about, and gives you the power of veto: It will also save a lot of time cleaning up the mess that will occur if they have unrestricted access to the PC.
Visit Windows Update: They're not called Critical Updates for nothing. Every time Microsoft plugs a security hole in windows the spyware merchants burrow a new one. It would be best to have your system on Auto update, but if not, then you should check at least once a month and download all the critical ones.
Use an Anti Virus / Anti Spyware program: Ensure you use one, and keep it updated…
• Eset Nod32 or Smart Security, one of the best on the market, and a good price.
• AVG Free Edition Is free and very good, certainly cheaper than Symantec or McAfee and also lighter on the system resources. But if you have either of theses - and are happy with them, then please install and use them.
Only ever run one antivirus / antispyware program on your system!
Windows Firewall: Windows XP SP2 has an inbuilt firewall, but most people agree its protection is inadequate, and only protects against incoming traffic. So a couple of free, but highly effective Firewalls follow:
• ZoneAlarm : My personal favourite.
• Sunbelt Kerio Personal Firewall
• Is Windows Firewall any good? Just to prove I'm not making this up.
Temp File/Cookies/index cleaner: Cleans out all the junk, offering some protection against identity theft and giving you precious hard disk space back…
SpyWare Scanners/Removers and Prevention Unfortunately, the best ones cost real money, as it's the highest profile threat on the ‘net, but there are some good ones out there that are free.
• Spyware Blaster – definitely a winner, install, update then click on ‘enable all protections' and exit. Run once a week to update its definitions. I use this one.
• Spyware Doctor : A cut down free version can be gotten from the Google pack. Another one I use.
• SpyBot : Also run once a week and use the immunize feature. It also offers an onguard protection feature called Teatime which runs in the background – never tried it though, so… Or…
• MS Windows Security Essentials(Works with XP, Vista and 7). An all in one utility that also runs in the background, use alone, not with the others.
Your Active X settings
In Internet Explorer, click Tools , Internet Options , Security . Click on the Internet globe. Then select Default Level , and then click OK. Now select Custom Level and scroll down to the ActiveX controls and plug-ins
- Set 'Download signed Active X controls' to Prompt
- Set 'Download unsigned Active X controls' to Disable
- Set 'Initialize and Script ActiveX controls not marked as safe' to Disable
- Set the Installation of desktop items to Prompt
- Set the Launching programs and files in an IFRAME to Prompt
- Set the Navigate sub-frames across different domains to Prompt
- Click OK and OK again.
Download Mozilla FireFox and use it instead of Internet Explorer .
Stronger Security - Firefox keeps you more secure when you're browsing the Web, closing the door on spyware, worms, and viruses (to a degree). The Firefox community of developers and security experts works around the clock to monitor security issues and release updates to better protect you.
Clear Private Data - Protect your privacy with the new Clear Private Data tool. With a single click, you can delete all personal data, including browsing history, cookies, Web form entries and passwords.
Security starts with you! Just be careful!
There's a lot of stuff out there offering you all sorts of things, programs like Kazaa, Imesh, etc that are often riddled with malware causing you grief. If you must use them, choose wisely.
• Uttorent is a good clean peer to peer application.
Finally, I hate to say it, but, avoid the porn and piracy sites as they are havens of spyware, trojans, worms and worse.
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