3rd January 2006 #1
If you're thinking of surfing....
...read this first!
We get a lot of requests in the PC Help/Advice forum that all amount to one thing - a basic lack of IT security awareness. So, to help you out, these are the minimum things you should consider doing before you venture back out onto the internet:
- Go to http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com and download all the "critical updates" for Windows, including the latest version of Internet Explorer. This should patch many of the security holes through which attackers can gain access to your computer.
- In order to protect yourself against spyware, you should consider installing and running the following free programs:
A tutorial on using Ad-Aware can be be found here.
Spybot-Search & Destroy
A tutorial on using Spybot can be found here. You might also like to consider enabling Spybot's "Immunize" and "TeaTimer" features.
A tutorial on using SpywareBlaster can be found here.
A tutorial on using SpywareGuard can be found here.
Make sure to keep these programs up-to-date and to run them regularly, as they will prevent most spyware problems.
- Also make sure you run your antivirus software regularly, and keep it up-to-date. There is plenty of free antivirus software around.
Trend Micro have an excellent online antivirus utility.
- Make sure you use and maintain a firewall. The firewall provided by Windows XP is actually very good but, if you need others, you can get good free firewalls from ZoneAlarm or Kerio.
A tutorial on understanding and using firewalls may be found here.
- If you use Internet Explorer, there are some other ways in which you can protect yourself.
Turn off third-party extensions by going to Tools, Internet Options, Advanced, scroll to the Browsing section and uncheck Enable third-party extensions.
Make your IE settings more secure by going to Tools, Internet Options, Security. Select the Internet Zone, then click on Default. Make sure the slider is set to either High or Medium.
If you're using XP and have installed the Security Centre, go to Start, Control Panel, Security Centre. Make sure that the Firewall is ON, and that Automatic Updates are ON. If you are using antivirus software make sure that is also enabled. If you don't have the Security Centre, then go to http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com and install it now.
Enable the pop-up blocker by going to Tools, Pop-up Blocker. Turn it ON and then adjust the Pop-Up Blocker Settings to suit your browsing. As a minimum, the filter should be set to High or Medium.
- You might want to consider using an alternate browser. Personally, I don't but others rave about Mozilla's Firefox browser. If you are interested, Firefox may be downloaded from here
- Use common sense when browsing:
Don't click links you're not sure about.
Don't click on any pop-up windows particularly ones that promise to "repair" your PC.
Think twice before you follow any instructions that insist you over-ride the Active-X disabler that's built into the latest version of IE.
Don't install taskbars, search bars, other other "helpful" utilities.
Don't install smiley's, icon sets, screensavers, or animated cursors.
Don't install programs, either as downloads from the net or attachments in your email, unless you're absolutely sure what they are and what changes they make to your system.
Keep an eye on what your kids are doing online. If necessary, supervise their use and also make sure they have their own non-administrative XP accounts.
- Finally, don't panic if you get a problem. 99 per cent of them are easily solved especially if you've followed these guidelines. And don't fear the internet. 99 per cent of it is also perfectly safe so long as you keep your wits about you.
3rd January 2006 #2
Thanks Glos, very helpful. Made it sticky.
3rd January 2006 #3
Blimey... That's deep! Ooo
So deep, I understood almost 0.2% of it
3rd January 2006 #4
Cheers Keith...forgot to suggest that
3rd January 2006 #5
Great stuff as always Glos. It should be made compulsory reading for anyone using a computer online!!
My keyboard's running out of ink....
3rd January 2006 #6
I always thought Adaware was a BAD thing. Or spyware or something!
Is it actually a good thing?
When I first connected to the internet at home, I used to get pop up adverts for Adaware or Spyware, and thought they were dodgy!!
3rd January 2006 #7
Vegy, Adware is a bad thing. Ad-Aware is a good thing - a program that helps get rid of the bad Adware. And as has been mentioned, never ever click on those popups other than to close them.
My keyboard's running out of ink....
3rd January 2006 #8
A few extras for getting rid of viruses;
3rd January 2006 #9
Ah, got ya... You can see why I was easily confused! :D
3rd January 2006 #10
I've never seen a pop-up for either Ad-aware or Spyware software products. You might be confused as both of those terms are similar to generic names for software (adware, spyware) that snoop on your browsing activity, invade your privacy, or get up to even more malicious activities.
If you're serious about whether the products I've highlighted are a good thing, you really should go and download them now...and make sure you run them at least on a weekly basis.
3rd January 2006 #11
A few more extras for getting rid of viruses:
Analgesics/Antipyretics such acetominophen (tylenol) aspirin, ibuprophen (advil), and naproxyn sodium (naprosyn) are useful for reducing the pain and fever associated with the common cold.
Decongestants such as pseudoephedrine hydrochloride (Sudafed) decrease nasal secretions and congestion.
Expectorants such as guaifenesin (Robitussin) thin respiratory secretions, make coughs more productive and decrease overall coughing.
Antitussives are opiate derivatives, such as codeine and dextromethorphan hydrobromide (Robitussin DM) that are useful in suppressing coughing by depressing the nervous system.
Antihistimines such as chlorpheniramine maleate (Chlor-Trimeton), brompheniramine maleate (Dimetapp), Dipheniramine hydrochloride (Benadryl), and triprolidine hydrochloride (Actifed) have been used to treat symptoms, but their efficacy in treating the common cold has been questioned since their primary mode of action is on the histamine allergic response of the immune system.
Antivirals to Human Rhinovirus have been recently developed for the treatment of the common cold. The mechanisms of these drugs include antiviral binding to rhinovirus, blocking the protein canyon binding site and using monoclonal antibodies to the antireceptor, ICAM-1.
Hormonal methods such as Bradykinin inhibitors are also being explored.
You are now able to tube ride the biggest of waves - with out catching a cold...
The radical of one century is the conservative of the next. The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out the conservative adopts them.
3rd January 2006 #12
Hell, that'll keep Vegy busy for ages, all those big words.... I doubt half of them will even be in "My First Dictionary" :D
My keyboard's running out of ink....
3rd January 2006 #13
Giving you rep for this Glos.. incredibly helpful. thanks.
3rd January 2006 #14
Excellent and comprehensive work Glos, I had plans to make a similar post but it wouldn't have been a patch on this. :)
Please take a look at:
My Photostream on Flickr
4th January 2006 #15Originally Posted by John
17th January 2006 #16
This is a good addition to the list. Does a complete scan of everything from system performance to internet speeds. One handy feature in the results is the list ofprocesses that are running on your pc (ctrl+alt+del - processes), it then tells you what's optional and what's required so you know what you can safely remove to speed up your computer. It will also tell you if there are any viruses lurking around. After what happened before Christmas, I'm extra careful now. My laptop just passed but will be examined weekly here now.
18th January 2006 #17
The first post in this thread was a general guide to safe surfing. In this post I'll be outlining the steps you should take if you think you've been infected with spyware or adware.
So, if you think you've been infected...
...read this first!
1. Download and install both Spybot and Ad-Aware now. If you're like Vegy and haven't done so, then you probably deserve to have spyware on your computer. They're both free downloads and they should identify, and eradicate, 95% of all suspicious software at the touch of a button.
2. So what happens if you've run Spybot and Ad-Aware and you're still infected? Time to press Ctrl-Alt-Del to bring up the Task Manager. Click on the Processes tab and then on Image Name so that they're in alphabetical order.
Now scan through the list and if you spot anything that obviously looks like spyware click the button to end it. However DON'T end anything that is running under SYSTEM in the next column called User Name. It's almost certain that this will be a process that's vital to your computer.
If you don't recognise any of the names, or would just like to make sure which processes you can end and which ones you shouldn't, go to Process Library, enter the name of the process as it appears in Task Manager, and then press the Search button. Process Library will tell you if that particular process is safe or not.
3. Go to Start, Control Panel and select Add/Remove programs. Search for any programs that you didn't install or which obviously look like spyware/adware and uninstall them. Again, if you're not sure whether to uninstall them or not, do a search for the program name on Google.
4. Things start to get a bit advanced now but we're now only concerned with the minute fraction of spyware programs that might've got this far. Open up My Computer and navigate to your Program Files directory, most likely "C:\Program Files". As in the previous sections, have a look around for any folders that seem suspicious. If you're not sure what the folder is there for, do a search. If they appear to be spyware, right-click on the folder and press delete.
5. By now you should have a clean machine. In extremely rare instances, you might have acquired spyware that's defeated everything you've done so far. So it's time to get down and dirty. Be warned that this bit isn't for those with nervous dispositions or a lack of quite high-level PC knowledge. Remember to have back-ups of all your important data before you go any further.
Download HijackThis, from http://www.hijackthis.de/en
This tool will perform an extremely thorough analysis of your computer and creates a log that you can save to your hard disk and examine at your leisure.
If you feel supremely confident, go through the log on your own and remove whatever you recognise as something that shouldn't be there.
If you don't feel competent, or if you have removed stuff and IE is still corrupted, go back to http://www.hijackthis.de/en and either copy/paste your log or upload it to the server. This will analyse your log and tell you what needs to be removed.
A very good tutorial on using HijackThis can be found here.
6. If you've reached this stage and your computer is still infected, then post details of your problem in this, or another a specialised PC forum.
Note 1: All of this is applicable to Windows and IE. If you're using another Operating System you're probably unlikely to see spyware ever or else you're already saavy enough not to need these guidelines.
Note 2: Most of the instructions refer to Windows XP, e.g. accessing Control Panel or Task Manager. However you should still be able to follow the same steps in previous versions of Windows.
Finally I should say that if you make a mess of things neither I, or Win2Win, can be held responsible.
In the next post I'll tell you how you can make Windows and IE as tight as the proverbial duck's so that you won't even need to bother with these instructions in future.
19th January 2006 #18
Right - third post of three. How to protect IE from getting spyware and adware problems in the first place!
So, if you want to protect yourself....
...read this first!!
Note: If you're not using IE, then none of this applies. Not now, not tomorrow, and probably not ever. So do think about using an alternative browser such as FireFox. But if you're comfortable with using IE, we'll crack on.
1. Before you do anything else, make sure you've read the first post in this thread. In particular, it's important that you've got anti-spyware programs like Spybot and Ad-Aware.
It's also vital that you are running the latest versions of both your operating system and Internet Explorer. If you are running Windows XP, you should install XP Service Pack 2. This will update your OS and bring IE up to version 6SP2. These downloads can take a long time so either set your computer to do this overnight or go here and order the update on CD.
If you use Windows 2000, you should install Service Pack 4, and then download and install IE6SP1 separately.
For any other version of Windows, you should download and install IE6SP1 separately.
Make sure you have visited Windows Update and downloaded all of the "Critical Updates and Service Packs" that are available.
3. When you've finished downloading/updating/rebooting, it's time to set Internet Explorer's security settings to something more secure.
Open IE and then click Tools, Internet Options, Security, and then the Internet icon.
You should reset the Internet Zone security to the default setting, which is "Medium". Then go into the custom security settings and turn off ActiveX downloading for that zone. Trust me, this will stop a huge amount of spyware dead in its tracks. Click OK.
Next click on the Trusted Sites zone and reset it to "Medium" security rather than the default of "Low". Click on the Custom Settings button, then click on the Medium drop-down option of "Reset to" and then the Reset button. Click OK to get back out.
Time now to add some trusted sites. I'd recommend you add microsoft.com to the list of trusted sites to make sure Windows Update continue to work. You can then add other sites such as macromedia.com (for Flash updates), apple.com (for QuickTime updates), and yahoo.com (for games and chat) at your discretion. Some of you might also consider adding win2win.co.uk for reasons that completely escape me!
Just to summarise what we've done here - turning off ActiveX downloading for the Internet zone only prevents new software from being downloaded. It won't prevent existing plugins from working. For example, it won't prevent the Flash plugin from working on a site in the Internet zone, but it will prevent any new Flash plugins from installing, unless macromedia.com has been added to the trusted sites list.
Finally click on the Advanced tab, scroll down to the Browsing section and make sure that Enable third-party extensions is not ticked. Click OK until you've closed down the IE options.
4. Now we need to do one last thing. Go to Sun Java and install the Sun Java Runtime.
Once it's installed (you may have to reboot) go back into IE and click on Tools, Internet Options, Advanced. Scroll down until you see two sections. The first will be called Java (Sun) - make sure the option Use JRE_version_number is ticked. The next section is called Windows VM. Make sure that the option Java Console enabled is not ticked.*
To summarise what we've done again - - we've instructed IE to use Sun's Java VM to be the default instead of the Microsoft VM. Sun's Java implementation is much more secure than Microsoft's and, while Java exploits are rare (but devastating when they happen), it never hurts to be safe.
*Newer versions of Windows XP no longer come with Microsoft JVM.
5. If your anti-spyware has an "inoculation" or "vaccination" tool, try using it as these act in a similar way to a real-time virus scanner. SpyBot has one built in, called "Immunize". The commercial version of Ad-Aware also has an inoculation feature. These tools can sometimes block legitimate software from working so if that's a problem, you can turn these tools off. However, like virus scanners, they can only catch spyware which they know how to recognise so make sure you also use any of the update options. Finally, run your anti-spyware at least on a weekly basis.
An excellent site that provides more detail about spyware, and how to protect yourself, can be visited here. As the site states, removing spyware can be difficult even for experts so it is better to take the time to protect yourself first.
19th January 2006 #19
These three posts should be read instead of the future posts I should know this by now.... (6) through to I should know this by now.... (4237) :D
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