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Following on from my post about my adventures cleaning up Caerulia’s PC, my cousin Marquis responded with such a long comment I’ve decided to include it here as a guest post. So take it away Marquis…

Here’s my list of “must do’s” for keeping any net connected PC clean. Will try to keep it brief and simple but forgive me if I ramble on a bit. Please note that all product endorsements are my own based simply on personal experience. Every computer is different and an application which runs well on one computer may slow another one down for various reasons.

Keep your operating system and browser up-to-date with the latest security patches and service packs. The majority of viruses and spyware attack known vulnerabilities and succeed in infecting because people haven’t followed this simple rule. With 92% of operating systems out there being MS Windows, most of your readers will find the site below useful. It will scan and update Windows, IE and your MS Office applications:

http://www.update.microsoft.com/microsoftupdate/v6/default.aspx?ln=en-us

After that, you can set Windows to update automatically.

If you’re using a different browser than IE, it’s vital to ensure it’s also kept up-to-date with the latest version/patches. Many people argue that Firefox etc. are more secure. Without getting into a flamewar, I’d argue that all of the browsers are targets for exploit and have new vulnerabilities identified all the time so it doesn’t really matter which one you use, as long as you keep it patched – and continue to keep IE patched regardless since you’re stuck with it.

Run a firewall. You can run one on your ADSL router and/or the PC itself. Best practice is to use both and restrict access both inbound and outbound to services/applications which are required. Doing this properly may be a little too technical for many people, but it’s a definite must.

Run anti-virus and anti-spyware and ensure you are running the latest version with the latest virus definitions. A regular weekly full-system scan should be run and real-time protection should scan files as they are accessed.
For antivirus, I’ve always found AVG to be very good (and free). AVG also make free antispyware and anti-rootkit tools but I’ve never used them and so can’t comment.
For antispyware, I use Windows Defender which seemed to be the best thing on the market when MS bought them out. Whether or not they’ve managed to ruin a good thing, I’m yet to see 🙂

AVG:
http://free.grisoft.com/
MS Windows Defender:
http://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/spyware/software/default.mspx

Backup. Regularly… and occasionally check that the data is actually recoverable.

Common Sense

  • Don’t open emails from an unrecognised source – delete them
  • Don’t open attachments that seem suspicious
  • Don’t click on links in emails unless the source can be trusted
  • Don’t click on links in pop-up ads just close them down
  • Don’t believe the hype – those people from Nigeria aren’t really in need of your bank account details 🙂
  • When entering sensitive information like credit card details, ensure the connection is securely encrypted (little padlock in the bottom right hand corner for Internet Explorer users) etc.etc…

A few tools I like to use are:

Ad-aware and Spybot S&D

Rootkit Revealer:
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/sysinternals/Utilities/RootkitRevealer.mspx

Microsoft Security Baseline Analyser:
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/tools/mbsahome.mspx

Stinger:
http://vil.nai.com/vil/stinger/stinger.htm

TrendMicro Housecall – an online virus scanner which I like to run once a month to double-check that I’m not infected- some viruses can disable your antivirus itself without it being apparent, so an independant third-party scan occasionally can help to identify such issues.
http://housecall.trendmicro.com/

A really good site for posting these kinds of questions is:
http://www.experts-exchange.com/

I’ll willingly give it a free plug here since I’m a regular contributer. It’s got forums for just about any geeky issue you can imagine and it often saves re-inventing the wheel or learning long, hard, lonely lessons.

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16 Comments

  1. Don’t believe the hype – those people from Nigeria aren’t really in need of your bank account details
    Come on now, you’re telling me that I’m not going to be made a heir of an African Prince and inherit $43 million… Waaaaah! 😀

    Good advice, I tend to get all of my downloads from http://www.download.com , everything in one place. 🙂

  2. Phew, I’m glad you didn’t try to convince people that they aren’t really gonna win the lottery. I just handed out my bank details. My win should be deposited any minute now…………….

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