5 things a computer user must own/know for security

There are 2 (arguably) major technological innovations that we use most often to help make our lives easier – the USB and the Internet. Remember when we had to make do with diskettes or burning CDs to transfer files from one computer to another? Remember how slowly file transfer was then? The USB and the Internet revolutionized the way we work by providing us with faster and easier options. Aside from that, the Internet has also paved the way to a lot of new venues for meeting new people, selling products, advertising services, and broadening our mind.

However, the convenience of having almost everything available with a click of a mouse comes with the risk of also having viruses, spywares, and malwares infect your computer with a click of a mouse. And while the Internet provides a broad range of resources to help you tackle these problems, it’s very hard to sift through the information overload.

Here’s a bite-sized article on the 5 things that I believe (based on personal experience) every computer user must know/own. These tips and softwares will most likely relieve you of a lot of headache. And best of all, they are all free!

1. Install Mozilla Firefox
Mozilla Firefox is a relatively new freeware Internet Browser that many people are beginning to embrace. It is much better than Internet Explorer in so many ways. It allows you to create tabs in one window so you can go through several sites and have them contained in just one window. Aside from that, you can easily install add-ons to the browser to help you manage downloads, or give your browser a fresh new skin.

The most important reason to switch to Firefox, however, is that it helps you minimize the risks in the Internet. Since my switch to Firefox, the number of viruses/spywares/malwares I’ve gotten have decreased. Because of Firefox, I was saved from the headache of cleaning the coolpics virus that plagued the net a few months back. Plus, I don’t have to see those annoying pop-up ads. Firefox is amazing.

2. Install AVG Anti Virus
Tired of anti-virus programs that are bulky and expensive? AVG Anti Virus gives you all the salient features of the popular anti-virus programs minus the cost. It updates your anti-virus definitions automatically, making sure you are always protected, and the User Interface isn’t bombarded with functions that you don’t really need.

3. Install SUPERAntiSpyware
The SUPER in SUPERAntiSpyware is not an exaggeration. In fact, the major reason why I am writing this article is because I wish to tell everyone about this very very very cool freeware. Yes, this super software is being offered for free. I love it so much that I am probably going to donate to them for their super job.

A few days back, I encountered this very annoying virus involving exp1orer.exe. Basically, because of this virus/malware, I couldn’t double-click to open my drives. Nothing very damaging, but what if you get a worse virus in the future? I would say that I am pretty tech savvy, so I really tried to delete all the traces of the virus. But I just could not do it. AVG could not detect it either. I posted in Yahoo! Answers searching for enlightenment but it helped little. Anti-virus sites providing info on the malware were scarce, plus they didn’t point to the exact problem I was experiencing.

I finally found this software that is smart enough to detect similar patterns of malware. I scanned my computer with this program and it was able to clean everything just like that! And just like AVG, the UI is clean and it updates automatically.

Note that I recommend having at least 2 anti-virus/anti-malware programs hanging around in your PC for second opinions.

4. Disable AutoRun
A lot of viruses are being spread right now because by default, our computer opens the contents of any USB or CD you plug into the computer. This is a huge mistake on the part of Windows and must be immediately stopped.

To do so, follow these steps (for XP Pro users):

  1. Click Start and then click Run
  2. Type gpedit.msc and click OK
  3. The Group Policy window will open. In the left pane, double-click Administrative Templates
  4. In the right pane, double-click System
  5. Scroll down the list and double-click Turn Off Autoplay
  6. In the Turn Off Autoplay Properties window, select Enabled. From the dropdown next to Turn Off Autoplay on, select All drives and then click OK
  7. Exit Group Policy by selecting File, then choosing Exit from the menu.

For XP home users, go to this article:
http://antivirus.about.com/od/securitytips/ht/autorun.htm

By doing so, viruses that were lodged into your USB unknowingly won’t attack your PC just by plugging it in. Now, of course, you need to make it a point to scan any removable drive with AVG and SuperAntiSpyware prior to exploring its contents.

5. Do a full system scan in safe mode.
After you have installed AVG and SuperAntiSpyware, I suggest you run a full system scan in safe mode to make sure your PC is currently clean. To boot your PC in safe mode, follow these steps:
a. Shut down your PC
b. Wait a few minutes, then turn on your PC again
c. Once your PC starts, press F8 until a black text screen is shown – The Windows Advanced Options Menu
d. Select the Safe mode option and press enter.
e. The computer will now run in Safe mode. Normally, your desktop will look screwy, the icons will be big, and some of your running programs will not show.
f. Open AVG and do a full system scan.
g. Open SuperAntiSpyware and do a full system scan.
h. Once you’re done, you can restart in normal mode.

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