One of the first things to help secure your computer is to use Windows Update, which is an online service supplied by Microsoft to help secure your operating system against the latest exploits!
Windows Update can be found at the web address of:
Alternative ways to get there is by Opening Internet Explorer and click Tools, Windows Update.
If you are offline, it will ask you connect to the internet so if your on dialup then enter in your Username and Password and click connect.
When you first go there it will ask you to install special Windows Update plug-ins for Internet Explorer to allow you to use the Windows Update website efficiently, so go ahead and click Ok.
Then it will redirect you to a page, asking whether you want to do a Custom or Express install, Click Express it is by far the easiest, Custom allows you to remove and add things to the update, such as other tools Microsoft has provided, and Express already has the most critical patches selected. A dialog box should pop up, and you just click Install to have Windows Update download and install the latest patches for your system. If an update wishes you to install it alone, and needs a restart, then click Ok and restart the computer once it tells you too after it has installed the patch and do the previous to download the rest of the patches.
With Service Pack 2 (which can be obtained through Windows Update if you donâ€™t already have it) of Windows XP, Microsoft perfected the ability for your computer to download the latest updates automatically, while your computer is connected to the computer. I will show you how to configure Automatic update the easy way.
1. Right click My Computer (Either on the desktop or the Start Menu) and click Properties.
2. Click the Automatic Updates tab.
Here it gives several options, you get to Turn it Off/On, Schedule the updates so it downloads the updates when you wont be using the computer, Just notify you that updates are available, or Download the updates and choose when you want to install them. Before the updates take affect, you need to shut your computer down.
Another thing to make sure you have activated is the Windows Firewall, which is dramatically improved with Service Pack 2. A firewall is an application whose aim is to block access to your computer from the outside, such as Crackers and others trying to gain access to your system. It is also useful to block applications from access the Internet, especially if you donâ€™t know what the program is, it could be an application that has gained access to your computer and is about to send all your email and documents to its creator.
Generally Windows Firewall is sufficient to use, and doesnâ€™t require you to download any third party software and any patches that are needed are rolled out in Windows Update.
To configure and make sure Windows Firewall is activated you can do the following:
1. Click Start Button, Control Panel, Windows Firewall.
The firewall is very easy to configure and gives several options. Here you can choose if you want to turn it On or Off.
By ticking Donâ€™t Allow Exceptions it makes your computer much more secure, by blocking even Remote Assistance and File Sharing.
If you ever think you messed up with the Firewall settings too much and now you canâ€™t connect to the Internet, there is a Restore to Defaults feature, to use this.
1. Click the Advanced Tab
2. Click Restore Defaults
There are other Firewall applications available, such as ZoneAlarm and the now discontinued Sygate Personal Firewall, if you donâ€™t want to use Windows Firewall or want that extra protection.
Viruses and Spyware
Before we do anything else, I want to point out the difference between Viruses and Spyware.
Viruses are created with malicious intentions, such as destroying all your data, or better yet opening it out so all the world can read that CV of yours. Viruses are have still a big impact on the world today, as its ability to spread itself through the internet has cause a lot of hassles, fortunately the updated Virus scanner can do wonders to keeping your computer free.
Spyware is advertising and is commonly used to hijack your Internet Explorer homepages, it also has a major impact on the performance of the computer, by slowing it down quite a lot and even 30 infections can sometimes do the damage of 30,000.
Luckily for us, there are utilities to protect our computers from both Viruses and Spyware!
There are many applications for Virus protection out there, but the ones I recommend and are sure are legit and not Spyware or viruses in itself are AVG Free Antivirus, and an excellent NOD32. I do not recommend Norton Antivirus or Norton Internet Security at all it has cause a lot of main stream problems, with dramatically slowing your computer down, and it doesnâ€™t offer the excellent protection that even the free AVG Antivirus does.
This application can be found at this web address:
Make sure you click Program download, the file should be avg5$$$$.exe not u$$$$.bin ($$$$= Where the version number is, it changes with every update).
Once it has been downloaded, Run the file and it should launch the AVG Setup (It may take a few seconds).
Most of the steps are just there for if you want to customise it, I recommend keeping it at default, so click Next, right through till you get to Finish and then click that. AVG should now be running, in the System tray (Where the clock is), and AVG Settings wizard will come up, just click your way through it yet again, if for some reason AVG does not appear in the System Tray, then restart your computer.
To update AVG, right click on the dull AVG icon in the system tray and choose, Update, Internet it will get updates form the internet and installs them.
If you needed to install updates manually, such as if you have the update file on a floppy disk or CD (u$$$$.bin). Then you choose manual and point AVG to where the update it stored. It should then say it found an update and install it for you and that AVG icon should become nice and colourful to indicate it is up to date.
AVG when fully updated, will automatically scan incoming files and emails for viruses but you cannot be too careful. To run a scan, right click the AVG System Tray Icon and click Test Center. It will open the Test Center, click Complete Scan and it will begin the Virus scan of your computer. Just a reminder to update the antivirus first for maximum protection.
I know of two great spyware scanning software, Adaware SE, and Spybot Search & Destroy. Both are excellent and free, and when used together can remove most if not all that your system can be infected by.
Lavasoft Adaware SE Personal Edition
This application can be found at the following web address:
Once you have downloaded the setup file, and then run it and it will launch the setup. It is again, simple to install, by clicking next or I agree to the dialog prompts, till you reach the end with check boxes. Untick all checkboxes to avoid confusion and click Finish.
The Adaware SE icon should now be on the Desktop, double click it. It will tell you that your definitions are old, so you know what you are going to download; definitions are updates with the latest list of Spyware and the ability to remove them. Click Connect to allow it to connect to the internet and download and install the latest definition. Once it has downloaded and installed the definition file, it will take you to the Adaware SE main screen. You have to scan for Spyware, it wonâ€™t do it automatically for you, so I recommend letting it scan during the night. To scan click Scan Now, make sure Perform Full Scan (You can choose Smart System Scan to scan for Spyware in the most logical places where it usually resides, but if you want full effect, go Perform Full Scan) then click Next and it will begin scanning.
Once it has finished scanning, it will display its results, to remove the Spyware form your computer Right click a result, for example â€œTracking Cookieâ€ and select Select All Objects, to select all the Spyware the scan found on your computer. Click Next, a dialog window will come up, asking if your sure you want to delete the Spyware, select Ok, and then it will remove the Spyware, and then take you back to the main Adaware Screen. There may be Spyware that cannot be removed, because it is currently protected, and it will then show a dialog asking whether you want Adaware to run at next restart. Click yes, so when your computer restarts it will run Adaware before the Spyware has a chance of protecting itself, click Scan again and it will scan and be able to remove the Spyware.
Spybot Search & Destory
This application can be found at the following web address:
Spybot Search and Destroy another great Spyware scanner software and ran with Adaware it is usually picks up a few that Adaware hasnâ€™t found.
Double click the setup file to launch the installation. Just follow the prompts and installing is a breeze. Once it is installed, run it. If you have Adaware on your computer then Spybot will detect this and bring up another dialog. Just click your way through that.
Updating Spybot is easy, at the main spybot screen, there is a Search for Updates button, click it, it will then reach out to the internet and show you a list of the latest updates it can download, you donâ€™t need the help ones, or tea timer but select the rest and click Download Updates. It downloads and installs the updates.
To scan, click Check for Problems, it will then scan and then display the results, to remove Spyware, click Fix Selected Problems; all the results will automatically be selected.
Just a reminder to update your Spyware database before your scan so you can make sure you donâ€™t miss any!
There are other Virus and Spyware software out there, even Microsoft have released an application called: Microsoft Windows AntiSpyware.
Thanks to the creators for these fine Spyware and virus detection tools.