Today's post will veer away from the usual politics, sports and pop culture topics and focus on securing your personal computer. Every week, more people are using their computer to perform tasks such as paying their bills and banking on line, as well as storing photos and music. Considering all the worms, viruses, and spyware (often referred to under the encompassing term "malware") lurking on the internet desperate for its chance to infest your computer, it is more important than ever to secure your PC.
Like most IT professionals, whenever a family member or close family friend has an issue with their home computer, I get the call to fix it. Recently, I came across an unusually stubborn infestation of malware on a laptop (not mine). When looking for software products to clean infected machines, one must be careful, due to the number of rogue spyware and antivirus software "solutions" out on the internet that can make your computer worse! Here's a rule of thumb: ALWAYS go to http://www.cnet.com/ to find the software solutions you need. They have an editor's review and both editor's and user's ratings of the software.
The combination of the following software, available on http://www.cnet.com/, cleaned the laptop and brought it back to proper working order.
AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 8.0.176, is a free antivirus solution that does a a fine job in keeping your computer virus free. I don't care for all encompassing solutions that you have to pay for such as McAfee Security Center. AVG Antivirus is highly rated and you can download the latest antivirus definition files to keep your antivirus software updated and your computer protected. Here's the link to download: http://www.download.com/AVG-Anti-Virus-Free-Edition/3000-2239_4-10320142.html?tag=mncol
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware 1.31 is the best malware killing product I have seen. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware found files and registry entries that other products such as Windows Defender and Spybot didn't find. Download this and run a full scan with your computer in Safe Mode (to get into Safe Mode, press F8 several times when your computer is in the BIOS, just after you turn it on). The scanning process is relatively quick (anyware from 10-25 minutes). I recommend running it a few times. Ultimately, I think you need to purchase the product, but it is free to try. If you have a computer infested with malware, don't hesitate to download this. http://www.download.com/Malwarebytes-Anti-Malware/3000-8022_4-10804572.html?tag=mncol
ZoneAlarm Firewall by CheckPoint - ZoneAlarm is a terrific software firewall solution for your PC. Let me be clear: YOU MUST HAVE A SOFTWARE FIREWALL ON YOUR PC! CONSIDER IT AS IMPORTANT AS ANTI VIRUS SOFTWARE. I've been running ZoneAlarm on my home PC for four years, and have never had any problems. ZoneAlarm is free (although there is a pay version with more features called ZoneAlarm Pro) and easy to use and the default settings should suffice for most users. My favorite feature is you can set the firewall's Internet Zone Security and Trusted Zone Security to high - which puts it in stealth mode and is hidden and protected. One note regarding ZoneAlarm - when you first install it, you'll get warnings, such as, do you want to allow access of software such as Internet Explorer to the Trusted Security Zone. Make sure to check the box to remember the setting. Here is the link to download : http://www.download.com/ZoneAlarm-Firewall-Windows-2000-XP-/3000-10435_4-10039884.html?tag=mncol
By downloading and installing these pieces of software, and scanning with these tools daily, you can be assured that your computer will run cleanly and effectively for a long time. Happy computing!