What do I do to protect my computer from getting viruses?

There is no magic bullet that will protect your computer or files from infection. The best strategy against any security breach is a well-informed and proactive defense. Install anti-virus software and keep it current, ideally updating it weekly. This is your first and best defense. Scan your system frequently.

Use Windows Update to scan and update your Windows operating system with the latest free security and software patches, including those for Microsoft Internet Explorer and Microsoft Outlook Express.

Be cautious about visiting unknown or untrusted Web sites. Untrusted or disreputable Web sites can transmit a virus directly into your computer. Staying on the main routes of the information highway will help keep you safer.

Don't open e-mail attachments from anyone you don't know and be wary of those from people you do. Some viruses called "worms" spread by mailing themselves to contacts in an infected computer's address book. If you have any doubts about the safety of an attachment, check with the source before opening it. I have even called friends on the phone to see if they sent me a file if I think it is suspicious.

When a website asks if you want to install their "special software" it is many times some type of "ADWARE" or “SPYWARE” program that will reside on your computer without your knowledge and track your visits to websites so they can tailor ads to your web usage. They may also get info off your computer they have no reason or right to have. The websites asking you to do this will usually work 100% without downloading this stuff.
Some websites (more prevalent on XXX rated ones) can install phone dialer software on your computer and make calls to overseas numbers that you will be billed for if you are using a modem to connect to the Internet. This is beyond "ADWARE" and is referred to as "MALWARE".



Eliminate COOKIES from your computer using the Internet options in control panel or get a cookie management program. Cookies are bits of code put on your computer by websites (without your permission) that can track your website usage and report back to some companies where you have been on the Internet. You can disable cookies completely in the Internet options section of Control panel, but some websites will not work without them at least partially enabled. I keep mine set at HIGH in the control panel/internet options/privacy window in Windows XP Pro. I also use "cookie wall" from the http://www.analogx.com/ website. It is another great freebie.

Unless you need or want it working, disable FILE AND PRINTER SHARING in your control panel / network configuration. Don't share any hard drives on your system unless you need or want to for a specific reason.

Never open or click on any email files ending in:
.reg (Windows registry file)
.ini (Windows initialization file)
.bat (DOS batch file)
.exe (Windows or DOS executable)
.vbs (visual basic script)
.bin (binary executable)
.com (Windows or DOS command file)
.zip (compressed zip file)
.rar (compressed rar file)
.pif (DOS program information file)
or .JS (JavaScript)
unless you are positive who sent them and you trust that individual or website (such as downloading a program you have requested). There are many other file extensions that can transmit a virus or download a Trojan horse, but these are the some of the worst since they will usually execute as soon as you click on them. Be careful installing free screen savers with .SCR extensions from websites. Some contain ADWARE and some hackers are sending viruses with an .SCR extension.

I have recently got information from friends that they have received a virus from downloading MP3 music files from the Internet. Digital music files come with attached information or attributes, which describe the name of the song, the sample rate and other basic file information. An attacker can insert malicious code in that data. I can see where this may be possible because a virus could be imbedded in the MP3 code or the file is an executable disguised as an MP3. If you download music online I would suggest creating a separate download folder and scan the files with your virus scanner before you try to play them.

By using discretion, keeping your anti-virus software up-to-date, and erring on the side of caution, you can help correct and protect the health of your computer system.

 Be sure your virus software is configured to scan downloaded files before it opens them. Prevention is the best medicine.

Why would someone hack your computer?

Besides gaining access to your private information, such as financial records or password files, intruders can, and do, use individuals' computers to:

Use a TROJAN HORSE PROGRAM to launch denial of service (DoS) attacks against a high profile Web site. Once gaining control, the hacker can direct your computer, and hundreds or thousands of other so-called "zombies," to act simultaneously, which overloads and effectively shuts down a popular site. They can also use your computer as a client on their network using your e-mail address and your IP address to send anything to anyone they want.

Distribute software illegally. After appropriating space on your hard drive, they enable others to access your computer as a "warez" (nicknamed for many illegal sites in Mexico that distribute illegal software) site and download pirated entertainment or business applications.

Steal Passwords, Credit Card numbers and other personal files.

A Trojan horse is a program sometimes designed to look like a legitimate program, usually, but not always delivered as an email attachment. But it is used to take control of your computer from a remote location to use it as a client, an e-mail location, record your keystrokes, steal information and other nice things. (I personally consider any Adware and Spyware a type of Trojan horse because I didn't ask for it, it was put on without my knowledge and it is sending data to someone without my permission.)

What's the risk of DSL or cable modem?

If you have a DSL or cable modem, an "always on" connection, your risk is greater because your computer is not a moving target. Every computer connected to the Internet or e-mail has an IP (internet protocol) address that looks similar to this.... When you use a dialup connection, your computer gets a different network/internet address (IP address) every time you dial up; however, using DSL or cable, you have a static network address (it stays the same). If you take advantage of the "always on" connection, your computer's address is even more available to hackers. There is also a risk from "sharing the wire". Those in your neighborhood with same cable service could potentially trespass on your computer if you don't have firewall protection in place.

Install a Firewall !!!!

You can add an important layer of protection between your computer and the Internet by using a firewall system. Potential intruders scan computers on the Internet probing for a "port" where they can break and enter. A firewall can block unauthorized entry into your computer, as well as restrict outbound traffic. (A Trojan horse is useless to the person who put it there if your firewall will not allow it to send data back to him from your computer.) There are many firewalls on the Internet. A great free for personal use firewall program is at http://www.zonelabs.com/
. It is easy to set up and will protect you from unwanted entry into or out of your system.

How do I know if a virus alert is genuine?

Is it real or is it a hoax? If you've seen or read about a new virus via a reputable news source or publication, it is probably not a hoax. However, if you receive an e-mail, even from someone you know, regarding a new virus alert that asks you to pass it along,
STOP! This is a common trick used by virus creators to spread the infection. Instead of forwarding a virus alert e-mail to your address list, confirm whether or not the virus alert is real by contacting your anti-virus vendor. Once you've confirmed that the virus threat is real, the next course of action is to fix it.

How do I know if I have it ?

Unless you have anti-virus software installed on your computer, you simply won't be able to know if it has been infected. In many cases, a virus can slow your computer's processor or trigger other unusual behavior such as your mouse or keyboard hanging up for no reason, strange things on your monitor, your modem transmitting or receiving when you are not on the internet or using e-mail, etc. However, these symptoms can also be caused by a number of unrelated reasons. Keep up-to-date with the latest virus definitions by regularly visiting your anti-virus software vendor's Web site to download them, or by running scheduled updates to your anti-virus software. Only then will your software be able to recognize the latest identified threats.

What do I do to get rid of it?

Once you have identified that you have a virus, follow the directions on your anti-virus software vendor's Web site to download the latest definitions or updates that will fix or remove the virus. In some cases, you may also need to follow the steps provided to manually remove viral code within your system or embedded in the Windows registry.

How do I know it's gone?

In most cases, if you download the latest virus definitions from your anti-virus software vendor, this will take care of the virus. However, you still need to be alert, because many times a Trojan horse is spread like a virus or could be spread with a virus, but may not show symptoms for quite a while, if ever. If you notice your computer or Internet connection running without your using it, or if your computer settings change, you should go to your anti-virus software vendor's Web site to download and install the latest virus definitions or scan your machine to detect the presence of any Trojan horses.


                                                                  Popup Stoppers

 Are you sick of all the popup ads when you are online? Get a popup  stopper. There are many free ones on the internet.  One good one is at  www.analogx.com. It is called “POW”. When the popups come up, add it to the list and it will never come up again. Another option is to download the  free Google or Yahoo browser toolbar. It has pop up stopping built into it.




                                                                          Spyware and Adware

                                       Click on the link below for detailed info on Spyware and Adware


 How spyware and adware affects your computer
Spyware affects computer systems much the same way as computer viruses do, by compromising security, adversely affecting the operating system, causing    conflicts with legitimate software, and hiding so it is difficult to remove.


How spyware is installed

Spyware is usually installed without your knowledge when you install a legitimate software package. For example, some popular file-sharing utilities used for peer to peer file downloading contain spyware in their installation files. When you install the file-sharing utility on your computer, you also install the spyware.
Many spyware programmers can claim their software is installed legitimately because they know people rarely read license agreements or installation screens. Computer users tend to click away all notices and screens during an installation in an effort to install the software as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, with this tendency the computer user often misses the opportunity to decline the install of spyware. The makers of spyware operate in many of the same ways as virus authors do. They have realized that people simply do not read license agreements or installation screens. The justification given for installing programs that send information about you and your web surfing habits is that in the beginning before the spyware was installed onto your machine, YOU were given an opportunity to read the license agreement and you accepted ALL of the terms in that agreement. Even spyware that installs without a dialog box giving you a choice to install it or not to install it explains in its license agreement that you agree to ALL the terms in the agreement, including installation of the spyware.

 Don’t install anything without reading the terms of agreement completely!


         Why you should care about spyware

You should care about spyware because some of this software looks, walks and talks like a virus. Some of the files these programs leave behind or install are considered trojan viruses by the makers of McAfee Virus Scan and Norton Anti-Virus. Some of these files are notorious for compromising operating systems, causing crashes if the software is un-installed or not completely removed. The end result is that in some cases your operating system will need serious attention in order to repair the damage incurred from installing some of the spyware packaged with these file sharing applications.






What should I do to protect my computer from the summer electrical storms?


Electrical storms can cause power problems for much more than just your computer, but there are a number of steps that you can take to protect yourself in the event of a storm. Even if you do have a surge protector in place, you should consider shutting down and physically unplugging from the electrical outlet because surge  protectors DO NOT protect your internal home wiring and the electronics connected to it from a lightning strike should it hit your home directly. (Consider that the lightning bolt just jumped from thousands of feet in the air. It can certainly jump the gap through a surge protector or an on-off switch.)


This includes your computer, monitor, printer, scanner, modem, cable modem, DSL router, home stereo, television or any electronics that are important. This ‘air gap’ method of power protection is the cheapest and guaranteed to be 100% effective! If the power does go out before you get a chance to shutdown and unplug the devices, be sure to unplug them before the power comes back on. A major risk to your sensitive electronics is when the power is turned back on because of the ‘surge’ that can be created during the initial restoration of power.


When it comes to buying a good surge protector start by looking for a UL 1449 (Underwriters Laboratories) Compliance rating, which is UL’s minimum performance standard for surge suppression. This ‘clamping voltage’ rating can range from 330 volts to 4000 volts with the lower number being the better, since that is where it starts to ‘clamp’ or divert the excess voltage. Another important rating is known as the ‘energy dissipation’ or ‘absorption’, which is measured in “joules”. Look for a rating of at least 200 (the higher, the better). Really good protection starts at 600 joules.


For computers, traditional “surge” protectors may not be good enough, because they only address part of the problem when it comes to power. The lack of power (“power sags” or “brownouts”) is as much of a concern as “surges” when it comes to data devices. Lack of power will not damage your computer’s components but it can corrupt data as you are working. Anyone that has had a document or spreadsheet suddenly become corrupted or inaccessible may have been the victim of a “sag” in power. Remembering that computers deal in 0’s and 1’s, lack of power can cause a “0” to become a “1” and vice versa.


Your best bet for desktop computers is to employ power protection that is also a “battery back-up” system, which incorporates protection for both surges and sags. (Laptop users, essentially have a battery back-up system because of the internal battery, so a good surge protector will do just fine.) In addition to providing protection, battery back-up units allow your computer to continue to run for a period of time (5 to 10 minutes) in the event of a power outage which gives you time to save your critical data. They also incorporate software that monitors the power situation and will properly shut down the computer and all open files in your absence, a must if you run your computer around the clock. Major brand surge protection starts at $35 and battery back-up units start at just under $100.


Please feel free to call if I can help you in any way.
Richard Staff


The link below is for the analogx website. I don’t know this person except on the internet but he has a great site, all the software is free and has utilities and programs for about anything you can think of.