Tech Pages

Install and Update a Free Anti-Virus Solution

One of the most important security measures for PCs today is installing and maintaining a solid anti-virus solution. One of the primary causes of data loss is rampant viruses that not only destroy data, and remove partitions, they also wear drives to the point of failure by using the infected PC as a 'spambot'. These issues are not new, they are just under-reported and not well understood. To prevent an early death, and data loss from you PC, we suggest a solid solution like Avast, updated daily with the latest virus definitions. When we see infected PCs running anti-virus software, almost always the infection is the result of an expired update license (typically several months). Most people do not understand the importance of updating daily. The fact is, there would be no crime if the criminals gave up at the sight of every countermeasure. The fact is, the see them, and quickly figure a way around them. You need to be prepared for the alternate route. Read more

The FBI's 'Enemy #1' for 2007

According to the FBI and the SANS Institute, the biggest security risk for 2007 is:

Internet Explorer

That's right, that harmless little browser that many people call "The Internet" is the pathway to many destructive and potentially devastating threats in the future. The surprise is that a slow moving beuracracy like the FBI was able to pull this threat out of a line-up. Maybe it was SANS that did all the leg-work? Regardless, you should quickly switch to one of the wonderful alternatives to IE, such as Firefox, which is freely availabel for download, andactually display web-pages and other content properly. Eliminate the #1 threat today.

Eliminating Spyware

There are several steps that are typically needed to eliminate spyware completely from your system. There are many pieces of software on the market that claim to eliminate spyware, but do little more than identify, and remove portions of the payload from your system. The best way to keep spyware,adware and trojans off your system is to prevent them in the first place, by installing a firewall, disabling Active X controls, or switching to Firefox, and running a good quality anti-virus solution. But for most people, this is too little too late.

They need plan-B.

Plan B can be very complicated for the novice, and includes identifying the invader and payload, location, and determining the extent and depth of the the infection. Plan B includes identifying, eliminating, rescanning and preventing re-infection.

Identify

I highly recommend two free tools Ad-aware and Spybot S&D. You should download one or both, install and scan your drives to identify the offender(s). When it comes to identification, these work pretty well, considering they are free. They will also eliminate 70-80% of the intruders after the scan. That leaves 20-30% on your system. Many of these you may not see until you reboot, some, not for days. Typically, these have made tricky registry entries and/or have silent sister-programs that reinstall the original program when it see that it has been erased. Tricky.

Eliminate

This is the really tricky part, where many people can get themselves in trouble. Editing registry entries. There is another free program -Autoruns- to help identify registry entries, and turn off unwanted startup entries that may be causing problems. If you don't know what you are doing, you may turn off a legitimate program, so be careful and go slow and use the help and tutorials.

Rescan

After you feel confident that you have identified and eliminated all traces, you will need to rescan after rebooting your system. Scan using Ad-Aware and/or Spybot, and if they pass the test, for good measure you can use an online virus scanner called Housecall. It works pretty well and will prevent false negatives from a disabled AV program. If this works out, then perhaps you have eliminated the problem. You should know after a couple of reboots. The only way to be sure is to monitor traffic with a personal firewall such as Zonealarm or a sniffer that looks at packets (data) coming and going from your computer. Sometimes you may have to repeat this procedure several times to eliminate the pests. Many times it is faster to remove your important data and reformat - it sounds scary, but many times it is much faster and cheaper if you are paying someone else. Depending on the type and extent of an infection we will typically recommend a Backup / Format. Many times it can be done for under $100, and can be done in just a few hours rather than days of frustration with poor results, and you computer runs better than new.

Prevention

This is the biggest issue facing Windows users today, and is fairly easy to prevent considering how hard it can be to repair. Failure to adopt the following steps and measures can and will cost you $100s to many thousands of dollars in support, repair, liability, and lost productivity, revenue and customers.

In order of importance:

  1. Disable Active X controls in Internet Explorer - or switch to Firefox
  2. Install a firewall -hardware or software - to protect from invasion from Internet
  3. Download and install Anti-Virus update regularly (daily or weekly)
  4. Windows users update to current service packs
  5. Do not download and install "free software" (screensavers, toolbars, P2P software)
  6. Do not open attachments in emails
  7. Stay away from seedy web-sites (porn, gambling, seedy shopping sites)
  8. Be careful what software you install (many are poorly written)

If our clients implemented these safeguards before they had problems, 45% of the money they paid us could go for new computers, or flat-panel monitors or even new office furniture. It is alot of money. We will be glad to take it, but we would feel better if you spend it on web-design, or server integration. Clients who follow our advice: Do Not have Spyware | Do Not Have Viruses | Do Not Lose Data | Do Not Spend much money on IT | All Love Vulcan Data !

 

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