Preventing Computer Disasters

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” -Benjamin Franklin

This old saying holds just as true in today’s modern world of electronics.  This short post will deal with a few simple steps to make sure your computer and your data are secure from disaster.  First, we will focus on making sure software is secure and up to date.  Second, I will discuss free antivirus and antimalware real time protection software. Third, I will rehash some best practices regarding passwords.  Finally, I will try to drive home the security hole of Java.

Keep Software Up-To-Date

Stop using Windows XP.  Period.  Technically, you still have one year of critical security updates left.  Microsoft will officially stop supporting Windows XP in April of 2014, a full TWELVE years after its original release.  But why wait until then?  Get your data backed up and either install a free operating system such as Ubuntu, install a paid upgrade of Windows 8 or 7 ($199), or purchase a new computer running Windows 8 for well south of $500.  Preventing a security breach and stolen identity is worth far more than the pain of a new computer system.
ENABLE WINDOWS UPDATE. Control PanelSystem and SecurityWindows Update – First, change the default setting of updates to also install updates for all Microsoft software  (not just Windows i.e. MS Office).  Once this is changed, the Windows Update window will read “You Receive Updates: For Windows and Other Products from Microsoft Update”.
Now click “Change Settings” in the left panel or go to Control PanelSystem and SecurityWindows UpdateChange settings & Choose “Install Updates Automatically“.  Also,    Laptop users might want to change the update frequency to “Check for Updates, but let me choose when to download and install them.”  This is especially true if you are using a metered 4G cellular connection.  If you do this, you MUST be sure to keep an eye out for the Windows System Update icon next to the System Clock.  Speaking of which…
Enable “Always show all icons and notifications on the taskbar“.  Control PanelAll Control Panel ItemsNotification Area Icons.  Check box for “Always Show”.  Taskbar icons are typically where applications will nag you to update them.  Do not ignore these icons.  Certain running programs minimize to this area as well, such as antivirus, sound settings, network settings, dropbox, boxcryptor, etc.   Get to know what should be there when everything is up to date and notice when something changes.
Last – use an automated software updater program.  Microsoft Windows Updates are wonderful at updating security fixes for the Operating System, Word, and Excel, but what about all those security updates to Java, Adobe, Firefox, etc?  Secunia software has a FREE application called Personal Software Inspector that can handle this automatically.
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AntiVirus and AntiMalware

You do not want an infected computer!  That is the fear that this particular crap ware variant plays upon.  By mimicking what looks to be an official security scanner, the software informs you of fake infections and asks for your credit card to unlock the full version features to clean your PC.  Do not enter your c.c. numbers anywhere!  That is the SCAM.
“XP Total Security 2011 is a deceiving security program that will pop-up excessive alerts and warning messages aiming to persuade computer users into obtaining the licensed version of the program. XP Total Security 2011 virus usually spread by means of a Trojan that is able to invade a computer by means of rootkit technique. With this method, Trojan or virus will be able to install itself on the target computer without being detected by any legitimate anti-virus application. Other variants of this applications includesWin 7 Total Security 2011 and Vista Total Security 2011. Their existence will provide several annoyances including browser redirection where-in requested web pages will be re-routed to a different server. As expected these web sites will able to download more threats on the already infected PC… Also, XP Total Security 2011 will block any applications to be executed. It will state the the opened program contains viruses and must be immediately remove with the full version of XP Total Security 2011. This deceptive method to promote a rogue program is always been a tactic by rogue developer. They will earn enormous profits from this online fraudulent activity so be careful with it.”
The removal of such nefarious software can be done for free.
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