Many of you have started your "Spring Cleaning" at home. How about that Lenovo? Is it time to revist your security practices for staying safe online?
Here is my standard list of simple steps that you can take to reduce the chance of infection..
The following suggestions are general prevention and are not customized for your computer. You may have already taken some of these steps, and depending on your current security, you may not need to implement all of these:
1. Visit Microsoft Update: Make sure that you have all the Critical Updates recommended for your operating system, Office, and IE. The first defense against infection is a properly patched OS from Microsoft Update at update.microsoft.com. More info HERE.
2. Please use a firewall and realtime anti-virus. Keep the anti-virus software and firewall software up to date.. Run a complete system scan with your anti-virus at least once a week...preferably in Safe mode.
If your anti-virus program is a paid/licensed version that is about to expire, you can consider using a free one such as:
Microsoft Security Essentials
AntiVir Personal Edition Classic
Avast! 4 Home Edition
If you prefer not to use the Windows Firewall, there are several of the freeware Firewalls available on the public domain.
Please see this list for anti-virus, firewalls, and other FREE SECURITY SOFTWARE.
3. Using an alternate browser can reduce your chance of certain infections installing themselves. You might consider installing Mozilla / Firefox.
4. Do not use file sharing. Even the safest P2P file sharing programs that do not contain bundled spyware, still expose you to risks because of the very nature of the P2P file sharing process. By default, most P2P file sharing programs are configured to automatically launch at startup. They are also configured to allow other P2P users on the same network open access to a shared directory on your computer. The reason for this is simple. File sharing relies on its members giving and gaining unfettered access to computers across the P2P network. However, this practice can make you vulnerable to data and identity theft. Even if you change those risky default settings to a safer configuration, the act of downloading files from an anonymous source greatly increases your exposure to infection. That is because the files you are downloading may actually contain a disguised threat. Many very malicious worms and trojans, such as the Storm Worm, target and spread across P2P files sharing networks because of their known vulnerabilities.
5. Keep your software updated...make it easier on yourself and install the free security tool Secunia PSI .
6. If you have not already done so, you might want to install CCleaner and run it in each user's profile: http://www.ccleaner.com/ ** UNcheck the option to install the Yahoo toolbar that is checked by default for the Standard version, or download the toolbar-free versions (Slim or Basic) when given the option for those.
7. Web Of Trust , uses colored alerts to warn about risky websites warns you about risky websites that try to scam visitors, deliver malware or send spam. Protect your computer against online threats by using WOT as your front-line layer of protection when browsing or searching in unfamiliar territory. WOT's color-coded icons show you ratings for 21 million websites, helping you avoid the dangerous sites:
There is a Web Of Trust version for Firefox as well.
8. If you still wish to use Internet Explorer, please make sure you install SpywareBlaster: http://www.javacoolsoftware.com/spywareblaster.htm
Prevent the installation of ActiveX-based spyware, adware, browser hijackers, dialers, and other potentially unwanted software.
Block spyware/tracking cookies in Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox.
Restrict the actions of potentially unwanted sites in Internet Explorer.
Periodically check for updates.
9. You might want to install Winpatrol. Winpatrol is heuristic protection program, meaning it looks for patterns in codes that work like malware. It also takes a snapshot of your system's critical resources and alerts you to any changes that may occur without you knowing. You can read more about Winpatrol's features here. You can download a free copy of Winpatrol or use the Plus version for more features.
You can read Winpatrol's FAQ if you run into problems.
10. Many of us in the online security community have tried and tested programs to determine their abilities. Please remember that there is no guarantee regarding computer security. However, the available software, combined with the rest of these recommendations will contribute to helping your system running safely.
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