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Your PC under attack

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I've ranted on another page about the importance of protecting your PC, particularly so if you go online. But I cannot overstress the importance of making sure that your PC is kept safe from harm.

There really is no excuse not to do so.... If you've spent circa £1,000 on a PC, what is £20 or so to protect your PC and data. In fact there are even many applications available free and I've compiled a list of protection software that can be downloaded and used for free.

So how can you ensure that your PC is kept as secure as possible?

• Ensure that you have downloaded all the Windows Critical Updates.

New exploits are being found all the time so make sure you have the relevant patches.

• Install a decent Anti-Virus Program.

I have run various versions of Norton (NAV) over the years, which has protected me from getting infected many times over.  Some people may moan that its bulky, or take up too many resources, but I've never found this to be so. It runs happily in the back-ground, but always on the alert, and its no more resource intensive than any other program you may have installed such as Word.

If you are a gamer, you obviously don't want it automatically doing a full scan whilst your in the middle of a game, so simply change this setting to run at a more convenient time.

There are many more decent AV progs out there McAfee, Trend, Sophos, to name just a few. There are also a couple of decent "freebies" out there. Check out my software page for these links.

• Ensure AV Patterns are up to date.

New Virii are released on a daily basis. Make sure your AV is set to automatically check for updates.

• Use a Firewall.

I wouldn't dream of going on-line without a firewall to protect me against hack attempts.   There are two types of Firewall - Software and Hardware.

Over the years I've tried many different software firewalls, but my favorite would have to be Lockdown and I always seemed to go back to it. It uses few resources but frequently advised me of incoming scans.
Back in the days when I used BTInternet I would get several scans during an evening.

Windows XP has a built in firewall.
You can turn this on from Network Connections by Right Clicking your Internet Connection >>> Properties >>> Advanced Tab
However, it only protects incoming connections, and as such didn't help prevent spreading worms such as blaster and nachi.

There are a couple of software firewalls that can be downloaded for free from the links in my software page.

If your computer is connected to the internet for a long periods of time, it is well worth looking at purchasing a router with inbuilt NAT and firewall facilities.

• Run Anti Spyware and Malware software.

A common pest of the internet these days Spyware and Adware which are files made by website publishers that allow them to snoop on your browsing activity.

These files allow them to see what you purchase and send you "pop-up" ads. If you are like most Internet users, chances are you are probably infected with these files without you even knowing. Simply surfing the Internet, reading email, downloading music or other files can infect your PC.

Another threat is Browser Hijacking, where-by a site takes over your browser, by setting a particular site as your home page, sending you there when you don't want and adding unwanted ads.  These can sometimes be hard to get rid of and running a program such as Spybot or Adaware can help you from becoming infected. They will also clear out tracking cookies and the likes.

• Backup your data.

You should routinely backup information on your PC, to prevent the loss of important data in the event of infection or hardware failure.

Windows includes a backup facility, or you can simply store important information onto other media such as another drive or cds.

Better to be safe than sorry ... use protection when you cyber ;o)

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