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Old 05-05-2009, 02:01 PM   #57
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Old 05-06-2009, 08:54 PM   #58
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Protect Yourself

Iíve been working in the computer industry for more years than I would care to admit (30+). While I am not a true PC expert (Iím a mainframe tech), I use one every day for work, plus the home pc, plus take care of my daughterís and sonís pcís. Experience can be a wonderful teacher, and I have learned a few things about how to protect your computer and what to do to recover from a major infection or crash.

Read on if youíre interested. Hopefully, at least some of you will find this helpful.

First and foremost, no matter what operating system you are using, enable automatic updates. Either have them download and install automatically, or at least set it up so you are notified that there are critical updates that need to be installed.

Disable pop-ups in internet explorer. Once you have web site that you completely trust, you can enable pop-ups for that web site if thereís a need for them.

Install a firewall. Run the firewall all the time. A hardware firewall is great for at home, but doesnít do you a lot of good on your laptop while connecting to the internet at McDonalds or Starbucks. Enable automatic updates for your firewall software if appropriate.

Install an antivirus program, and enable automatic updates. Also enable at least a weekly full system scan.

Install anti-malware/anti-spyware software if you want to. If you do, again, enable automatic updates and weekly scans.

Avoid FREE software, unless you can find a legitimate national publication (like PC Week, Popular Mechanics, etc.) that says the software is ok and virus and spyware free.

Avoid FREE wi-fi hot spots, unless they are provided by a reputable company. Many can and do contain spyware that can capture your login information to websites that do not use any kind of security.

If you have a home wireless router or access point (WAP), enable security and require an access key to login. Only provide the access key to people you want using your internet connection. All wireless routers and access points can simply be installed as plug & play, but that does nothing to protect the internet service you are paying for. Neighborhood teens figure out very quickly where they can get onto the internet using someone elseís wireless router, and they have more range then you might think.

And remember, as noted in this thread, the people out there battling to prevent PC infections are always a step behind the writers of the viruses and malware. Hard to protect against something when you donít know what it is yet.

Finally, accept the fact that sooner or later, something is going to happen to your computer. Be it a virus that makes it unusable, a lighting strike, a power surge, a child, a toy, a tree limb, a pond, etc. etc., at some point your computer will no longer work. So, then what do you do? Plan ahead first so youíre ready.

1. Back-up all of your documents (including e-mail if you want to preserve it) onto a removable media of some form. An external hard disk is easiest. A CD or DVD is perhaps the safest. If you back up your data to an external hard disk, keep it powered off or disconnected from your computer unless you are actively backing up your data. Run a full scan on your PC before you connect the hard disk to your computer to help prevent migrating a virus to your back-up disk. Back up weekly, monthly, etc. Base your backup window on how often files change on your computer.

2. Take the time and create Restore Disks, either on CDs or DVDs. If you have never created them, and your system crashes or gets a major infection, then you have three choices. 1) Bring it someplace and pay to have it fixed and restored. 2) Contact the manufacture and see if you can buy restore CDs for your system. Many sell them. 3) Buy a new computer.

I back up all my data files and e-mail about every 2 weeks. I created the restore disks when I installed and set up my computer. Both have saved me many hours of frustration, and quite a bit of money.

I do not bother to back up my entire disk drive, including all the applications or programs. To me, that is simply not worth the time and effort to do.

The 3 times Iíve needed to restore a computer (2 due to viruses and 1 due to a hard disk crash), I started by doing a format of the hard drive (the C: drive if you will) using the restore disks. The restore disks then re-install the operating system and factory installed drivers so the computer is just like it was out of the box.

I then connect to the internet (after ensuring my firewall is installed and running), and let the automatic update features download updates and install them.

I then proceed to re-install the programs that I want to re-install. This is a good opportunity to not install things you are no longer using, and therefore keep disk drive space free. I allow the programs to download updates and install them as well. Finally, I copy all of my data from my backup disk, and Iím ready to rock ní roll again.

Time invested for me to do the restore? About half a day, maybe a bit longer depending on the number of updates that need to be installed. But, I have my system back up and working in the same day, and I have not spent several hundred dollars paying someone to restore my system, and most importantly, I did not lose any important data. No, I take that back. Most importantly, I was a hero to my daughter!

I had the Personal Anti Virus discussed in this thread on my home computer. Nasty beast! But, using my restore disks, and the process I described above, I was able to eliminate the virus completely in a few hours. Yes, I had to completely wipe out my system to do it, but I had the tools to restore it just fine. No virus can survive a low-level format of the disk drive.
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Old 05-06-2009, 10:45 PM   #59
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Minno, thanks for all of this information. I had to finally bring my computor in to the local place that employs keeks who supposidly know how to rectify these problems. My computer became so bad, that I could not even boot it up. Hopefully they will have it repaired in the next couple of days, but even they are not sure. This was quite an assault and I feel a bit exposed and exploited that I was unaware of how to handle it myself. I think by the time I figured out what to do, it was just to late. My antivirus programs did not recognized any problems. I will let this thread know what the final out come will be.
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Old 05-07-2009, 08:12 AM   #60
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Minno,
Great, great info. I'm actually going to print it out in the event of an emergency. I do have one question: how does one create "restore system" disks? Although I back-up regularly, I've never created these disks to rescue myself. As an on-line student, I could never "afford" to have my computer in computer-repair exile for several days. I would really like to have these disks available if needed.
Kathleen
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Old 05-07-2009, 11:27 AM   #61
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Create System Restore Disks

Ok, remember when I said I'm not a PC expert?

If you have XP, I'm pretty lost on how to create the restore disks. But, I did a search and found this article seems to be very useful:

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2325399,00.asp

I have Vista on an HP desktop and laptop. On both of my computers, if you click on the Start menu button in the lower right hand screen, then click on "Help and Support" I get a pop-up window. Mine has an HP logo on it, so other manufactures may be way different. On the pop-up window, there's a "Recovery Factory Setting" item. I click on that, and the next window has a "Create Recovery Disks" item. Clicking on that starts the wizard to make the recovery disk. It took 3 DVDs.

Hopefully that helps. If you have a Dell, IBM, or some other brand of PC, the method to create a recovery disk may be different. Do a search in your Help & Support screen, or do a Google search for recovery disks or restore disks. That's how I found the PC mag article above.

Chris
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Old 05-08-2009, 06:59 PM   #62
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Chris / Minno,
Thanks for all the info. I am going to save it for future reference. I appreciate your efforts to try to educate us all. btw, I picked up my desk top from the repair place and all seems to be OK
Barry
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Old 05-08-2009, 11:35 PM   #63
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Something to consider while performing PC maintenance...

Reading thru this thread prompts me to consider how many hours Windows users devote to the struggle to keep their computers reasonably free of malware and operating at above a snail's pace. As much as it might seem heretical, please, please consider an Apple computer when you finally decide that a replacement is due. Once you go Mac, you'll never go back.

Stop the pain and learn to enjoy the benefits of computing. If we all had to be mechanics for our cars and trucks, how many would bother to purchase one that demanded hours and hours of repair. As products mature, shouldn't you expect them to become more reliable. The car we drive now is infinitely more reliable than my 1948 Plymouth. Computers should not be immune from this logic (pun intended).
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Old 05-12-2009, 10:08 AM   #64
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Just got my computer back ($200 later) and lost all my Airstream picture documentation along with everything else. Learned a hard lesson about backing things up (and I'm not talking about trailers)!
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Old 05-12-2009, 10:35 AM   #65
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Quote:
Originally Posted by myoung View Post
Reading thru this thread prompts me to consider how many hours Windows users devote to the struggle to keep their computers reasonably free of malware and operating at above a snail's pace. As much as it might seem heretical, please, please consider an Apple computer when you finally decide that a replacement is due. Once you go Mac, you'll never go back.

Stop the pain and learn to enjoy the benefits of computing. If we all had to be mechanics for our cars and trucks, how many would bother to purchase one that demanded hours and hours of repair. As products mature, shouldn't you expect them to become more reliable. The car we drive now is infinitely more reliable than my 1948 Plymouth. Computers should not be immune from this logic (pun intended).
My trusty G4 bit the dust a couple of months ago, and I wound up getting a "British sportscar of computers" to replace it (aka Windoze). There isn't a day that goes by that I don't miss my Mac.
Oh, and for all those that want to go get a replacement PC, because Apple doesn't run most programs you have on your old PC... Vista doesn't run many of them, and Vista 64 runs even less. My wife's laptop has XP, and we have a stack of almost a hundred PC programs that run on it, but will not run on my new one.
I could go on about my dislike for the offerings from Redmond, but I don't want to turn this thread into a Windows-bashing thread.
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Old 05-12-2009, 11:07 AM   #66
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If we all had MAC's, don't you think the virus folks would turn their attention to their operating systems like they have Windows? The only reason they target PC's instead of MAC's is because they get more bang for their effort. If MAC's out numbered PC's the shoe would be on the other foot. MAC's aren't virus proof, they just haven't been worth the hacker's efforts, so far.

I have a PC because it allows more flexibility than MAC's do. While MAC's do specialize in graphic arts performance, they do lack the ability for consumer customization. Unfortunately, that is how viruses get into PC's.
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Old 05-12-2009, 11:24 AM   #67
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Oft-repeated specious argument...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnie's Mate View Post
If we all had MAC's, don't you think the virus folks would turn their attention to their operating systems like they have Windows? The only reason they target PC's instead of MAC's is because they get more bang for their effort. If MAC's out numbered PC's the shoe would be on the other foot. MAC's aren't virus proof, they just haven't been worth the hacker's efforts, so far.

I have a PC because it allows more flexibility than MAC's do. While MAC's do specialize in graphic arts performance, they do lack the ability for consumer customization. Unfortunately, that is how viruses get into PC's.
This argument of "security by obscurity" has been thoroughly debunked. Scanning the Web you will find the real reasons that the Mac OS is superior to DOS/Windows vis a vis viruses, trojans, worms, etc. The design choices made by the folks in Redmond and Cupertino are critical to the security/insecurity that we see at the consumer level.

Think for a moment like a teenage hacker looking for notoriety. Wouldn't it be way cool to crack the Mac rather than create just another simple hack of arguably the most porous operating system ever? You get more kudos for cracking the uncrackable than for writing malicious scripts that any reasonably savvy third-grader can construct.
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Old 05-12-2009, 11:28 AM   #68
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Not sure if you got rid of the malware yet but here you go Barry. Malwarebytes.org My friend had the same issue and I found this malmare removal program that is absolutly free of charge. If you install it and run it everything should be ok.
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Old 05-13-2009, 07:25 AM   #69
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I have been getting these emails for ever. I never open them as I would never open any email with a received on date that was so far off. Many times these emails are trying to sell me Viagra. Or other such meds. Sometimes 2 or 3 day. They always end up in the Spam folder. Easy to delete all at once. Anyone else getting these? I have not had any malware from these that I know of. But I do a sweep with my "Ad-Aware" program every other day just to make me feel good.



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Old 05-13-2009, 07:34 AM   #70
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SaabLover View Post
I have been getting these emails for ever. I never open them as I would never open any email with a received on date that was so far off. Many times these emails are trying to sell me Viagra. Or other such meds. Sometimes 2 or 3 day. They always end up in the Spam folder. Easy to delete all at once. Anyone else getting these? I have not had any malware from these that I know of. But I do a sweep with my "Ad-Aware" program every other day just to make me feel good.



Edgardo(at)Yahoo.com Can't find high-quality medications?
Mon, 1/18/38 2K
There are a few rerasons you could be getting inordinate amount of spam. Your email address is easily "guessed", you post your email address on forums (spambots troll the 'net for email addresses), you may belong to groups that allow public access to members' email addresses, etc.
A way to avoid the 'bots from getting your email, is when you have to post your email address, you can substitute (at) for @ and space the address out so it isn't a link.
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