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Tech Savvy: An Ounce of Prevention

Step 1: Install Anti-Virus AND Anti-Malware Protection
This may seem pretty obvious to most of you (at least I hope it’s obvious!) but the first thing you need to do is install software on your computer that protects it from viruses and malware programs. There are many good programs out there that will provide solid protection for your PC. There are free programs like AVG that provide good protection for your PC. There is also a new, free offering from Microsoft that I have begun using in place of AVG. It is called Microsoft Security Essentials (http://www.microsoft.com/security_essentials/), it is probably the best FREE option on the Internet today. Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) has done very well in “head-to-head” anti-virus competitions. About the only negative feedback on MSE from the reviewers is that it takes longer to perform a full system scan compared to other applications. Most of these scans should be configured to run very late at night (when you should be sleeping) and therefore don’t really have a negative impact on the computer user. If you decide to go the free route I would suggest adding another program to your computer to help bolster its defenses. The 2nd program is called Malware Bytes (http://malwarebytes.org). This is a great, free program that has a knack for cleaning up most of the spyware/malware infections that we see. The difference between the free version of Malware Bytes and the paid version is worth noting. In the free version you are responsible for updating the program and scanning your computer. I would suggest doing both of these activities daily. In the paid version of Malware Bytes, you can schedule the program to update itself automatically and to scan you computer on a daily basis. If you feel as though you might not remember to update and scan regularly, I would suggest purchasing the program. The cost is $24.95 for a license of Malware Bytes.


The last application I will mention is this section is Norton Internet Security 2010. When comparing the non-free security suites on the market today, Norton Internet Security is a consistent top-performer. The biggest drawback to this software used to be the performance impact it had on the computers where it was installed. Previous versions of the software place a heavy load on the computer. The latest version (2010) has done a much better job in not slowing down the host computer too much. If you want a “no-brainer” solution to protecting your PC, this is it. Prices for the software vary(there are often coupons and deals available) but you can typically find Norton Internet Security 2010 for around $40.

Step 2: Stay Up to Date
OK, so now that you made sure you have installed good protection for your PC the next thing you need to do is make sure that your software remains up to date. This means that you should check for updates for your anti-virus/anti-spyware programs AT LEAST weekly (I would prefer daily). Most of these programs have a feature that will check for updates automatically. Make sure this feature is enabled and that it is performing these checks frequently.
You also need to remain diligent in keeping your operating system (Windows for most of you) up to date with the latest patches and fixes from Microsoft. Typically Microsoft releases new updates and on “Patch Tuesday” which is the 2nd Tuesday of the month. Make sure that your PC is configured to download and automatically install the latest critical patches and updates from Microsoft. There is a program on your Windows PC called Automatic Updates where these settings can be configured. Automatic Update can be found in the Windows Control Panel under Security Settings. Make sure that Automatic Update is enabled and is set to download new updates and notify you or download and install them automatically. If you choose to have the program notify you of new updates, be sure to pay attention to that yellow shield in the lower left corner of your Windows Task Bar. This is how Automatic Update notifies you there is a critical update to install.
Most of you probably have Adobe Acobat install on your PC to allow you to read Adobe PDF files. This is a great program, but it is also one that you need to keep updated. Launch the Adobe Reader software and under the Help menu, choose Check for Updates. This will notify you if any updates need to be installed for this program. If was found recently that a significant percentage of the recent malware that was infecting PC’s was coming in via an un-patched exploit in the Adobe Reader application.

Keeping you software up to date is vital to keeping your PC healthy. New vulnerabilities in programs are found every day and the virus writers exploit those security holes quickly. If you do not keep you software current you will eventually fall victim to one of these exploits.

Step 3: Be Smart
Following steps 1 and 2 above will protect you most of the time, but you still must be smart about the websites you visit and the programs you download on your PC. If you receive an email that looks strange asking you to click on a link to see the latest funny video of a water skiing dog…perhaps you should just delete it. Don’t open email attachments that you aren’t positive are safe. Don’t install “free” software without checking it for viruses first-many “free” packages are free because they come loaded with spyware. Be careful of pop-ups when you visit a web site asking you to install some unfamiliar program. Basically, when it comes to the internet and your security…It’s OK to be a little paranoid!


If you need help with your Home or Business Computer of Networks call NIJEMtech at (229) 269-4151

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