Help - I think we have a Virus  or a Spy

Ignoring basic maintenance of your security software could lead to trouble

     Basic Web Surfing Safety and
          Security Practices 
 by Richard Rossbauer

Too many computer users neglect to do basic maintenance of their computer. The result is a clear path to their personal information.

Hackers are diligently at work everyday trying to find the weakness in your system so they can steal your personal information.
Although the trend seems to have shifted from creating mass Denial of Service attacks or computer virus epidemics, there are still other malicious and mischievous people who would simply like to create trouble and destroy your hard drive.

There's a wide variety of protective software available, such as adware removers, antivirus tools, firewalls, spyware removers and so on. They're effective only when put to good use, and only if they are
    Think of yourself as a passenger jet pilot doing a pre-flight inspection.

The pilot is responsible for doing a thorough inspection of his airplane before any passenger boards it. He needs to be sure that all safety precautions have been taken, to guarantee all mechanical and electronic devices are working, and that the mechanical inspections are up to date. He needs to verify that the aircraft is in good operating condition. Once the plane is off the ground, it's too late to wonder if such and such a device is working properly.

Your computer is your responsibility. Just like a pilot needs to go through a checklist, you also should make yourself a checklist of things to verify before you surf the Internet. Once connected, it's too late to realize that your system is not up to the challenge. If your system is not checked, if you are vulnerable to the attacks, you could pay a severe price.

You need good, solid protective software to protect you from online dangers.

Generally, software is well written by qualified programmers. Professionally written software will include all the instructions you need to obtain the best performance from the tool. If this is not the case, keep on searching. Go to a trusted site such as CNET and read the comments from other users about the tool you are thinking of buying. Take the time needed to do good research and remember -- you are putting all your information at risk when you connect to the Internet.

You need to use good tools for this job. It's acceptable to try free tools to evaluate their quality. Even free tools have features that can be set by you to maximize their efficiency (and protective ability).

One of the biggest problems for the average computer owner is the fact that he/she simply refuses to take the time to read about their new tool. They would like to simply buy it, install it and never think about it again. You need to take the time to educate yourself on the functioning of any tool you buy.

Once you're confident that the software you selected is of the highest quality, take your time and read all of the documentation provided. After you've done this, and only then,
install the software. Make sure to add the tool to your list of daily maintenance procedures (tasks).

If you haven't done so yet, locate and read all the recommended procedures for the software that may already be installed to protect your computer.

Create a text file and save it on your desktop. You will want this file to contain your checklist of things to do everyday before you start surfing the Internet. You'll find that this will very quickly become routine and you won't need to refer to your checklist everyday.

Here is a possible list of the things that should be done before you start surfing. You'll need an active internet connection to check each security product for updates. Many will alert you that yours may be out of date or that new updates are available.
      1) Check your antivirus software for updates. Regularly run your antivirus programs. If at any time a virus is found, you need to update your antivirus program -- disconnect from the Internet and do a full scan of your computer with the updated antivirus software.

Always make sure your antivirus is actively protecting your computer. Some of these programs can be set to automatically download the latest virus signatures on a regular (even daily) schedule and some will check you boot sectors during system startup.

     2) Clean your computer cache and your temporary files. You can pick up software for this at CNET or you can use the tools provided in your operating system. For Win98, click on Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Cleanup.

     3) Clean your history. Read your Operating System Help file if you are uncertain about how to do it.

     4) Update and Run your spyware remover(s). Again you can try free adware removers from CNET but please buy the full package when you find one that you know will protect you. You truly need all the functions of the software, not just a portion of the functions, which is often the case with Trial Version software.

     5) Update your firewall and check the settings. Some clever hackers can change the settings of your computer, therefore putting you at risk.

     6) Check for mail protection agents and make sure that they are active. Nearly all allow you to adjust your own security settings.

     7) Run a scandisk (Ask an experienced user or check the operating system HELP file if you aren't sure how to do it.)

     8) Update your browser. Be alert for 'update' announcements from Microsoft, the Mozilla Group (Firefox), or your browser supplier.

This is a sample list. Create one that applies to your computer and to the software installed on it. Keep your list updated and make sure that you do what you put on your list. Creating a list and not following it will be of no use.

It's a good idea to keep up to date on the happenings in the cyberworld. Listen, read, be alert to the latest virus and spyware threats. There are many online newsletters and blogs that will provide excellent information on a current basis. Why not try one or two?

As individuals, we cannot totally protect ourselves against the perils of the Internet but we can at least make sure that we do all that we can. Take the proper precautions and you, too, can have a safer journey thru the Cyber Jungle of the Internet.

Richard Rossbauer started his "Firewalls and Virus Protection" website and "Security Alert News Reporter" to help everyday Internet users navigate safely through the Cyber Space that has become a 'Cyber Jungle', loaded with ambushes and booby traps. He promotes his "Computer Security Awareness Campaign" thru his Blog and website at

Please help us educate and protect the unwary by sharing this article. Reprint it if you have a newsletter, website or ezine. Copy or print it to give to your friends. It may be used at will so long as no edits or changes are made to the content and links, and the full attribute box is included. We'd appreciate a short note telling when and where you have posted it. Thank you....Richard

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