How to Protect Against Computer Spyware

Computer spyware could be compromising your security, as well as the reason why your computer is operating so slowly.

Spyware is a type of computer program that attaches itself to the operating system. Once there, it steals your processing power and tracks your internet habits. It can nag you with unwanted sales offers or try to get you to visit a specific website. Some computer experts believe that as many as 80% of personal computers have some sort of spyware hiding on them.

What is Spyware

Contrary to popular perception, spyware is not technically a computer virus. Computer viruses are designed to replicate themselves over and over again, spreading form one computer to any it is connected with. It may also be designed to destroy personal files or the entire operating system.

In contrast, spyware isn’t designed to harm your computer. Instead it is any program that runs in the background of your computer without permission and makes unwanted changes. The damage is a by-product, not its main mission.

How You Get Spyware

Spyware can infect your computer from an action that you perform, such as installing a software package or clicking on a popup. Often, spyware uses trickery to get you to install them by giving you fake alert messages.

How Spyware Can Sneak On Your PC

  • Piggybacking onto other software – Some applications install spyware with their installation procedure. You should read the installation list closely, particularly if you are using a free version of the software.
  • Unsafe Downloads – In some cases, a popup window or website will try to download spyware onto your computer. You may receive a warning asking if it is ok, however, if you do not have a reputable computer security program installed you may not even receive a warning.
  • Add-ons for your browser – Add-ons, modules, or plugins, are designed to enhance your browser. While they may do what they are intended to do, these will often include spyware as part of the deal. In other cases they may be nothing but pure spyware. Some of these applications can be very difficult to remove once installed.
  • Anti-spyware that’s… not – This is one of the worst tricks in the book. It tells you that it will remove spyware; all the while it is downloading spyware of its own.

What Spyware Does

Spyware can do numerous things once it is installed. Generally, it will run a program in the background that will steal memory and processing power. It can also create pop-up ads that slow down your web browser. It could reset your homepage to an ad or redirect your web searches to show only results that benefit it.

Spyware can also cause your computer to have difficulties connecting to the internet. In its worst form, spyware will record your personal information, such as passwords, private information, and websites that you visit. It can also change your dial-up connections, reset firewall settings, and prevent you from removing it.

The reason spyware is created isn’t always clear. Often it can try to pad the traffic statistics for an advertiser to help them generate more revenue. It can also be used to steal affiliate credits by taking credit for sending you to a particular website.

How to Protect Your Computer Against Spyware

If protecting your computer security is important to you, then you will need to look for ways to protect yourself against spyware. Here are some tactics to protect your computer:

  •  Spyware scanner. You can use a trustworthy spyware scanner to detect and remove spyware. There are several reliable free programs available, and they work in the same manner that anti-virus software does. You may have to remove the spyware yourself once it has been detected, or the program may be able to remove it for you.
  •  Pop-up blockers. Pop-up blockers are designed to block pop-up windows so they can’t open. You can set it up so you get a warning message when a pop-up has attempted to open, and you can choose to allow pop-up windows from trusted sources.
  •  Disable Active-X. Many spyware applications use Active-X to run, and you can choose to disable this function. However, this can interfere with the functionality of some websites that use Active-X legitimately.
  •  Download and install only trustworthy software. Always be suspicious when you are asked to install something on your computer. If you don’t recognize it, don’t download it. If it is a trustworthy application, you should be able to go back and download it later if you really need it.
  •  Use “X” to exit. Avoid clicking “cancel” or “no thanks” on any suspicious pop-ups, particularly those that are designed to look like a fake warning. Either use the red X in the right-hand corner, or use the close window keystroke combination to close out the window to avoid the installation of spyware.

 

Windows Updates and Their Security Impact

Microsoft Windows updates are a two-edged sword. On one hand, they can provide your computer with the updates that it needs to ensure that the system operates at a maximized proficiency, while simultaneously keeping your computer security at an optimum level. On the other hand, Windows updates can create new flaws in your operating system that can make it easier for hackers and malware to access your system.

Periodically Microsoft will generate Windows updates. These can be used to patch over bugs in the system, fix flaws in computer security that were exposed in previous updates, and generally improve your computers performance. However, because the amount of time it takes to create updates, newly found bugs are often not fixed until several patches later. Thankfully, most users are not susceptible to the majority of the bugs, provided they follow basic Internet safety guidelines.

The Windows Update Security Center and its Security Impact

The Windows Vista Security Center is designed to furnish your system with the latest updates. Updates on this center often help to improve the firewall, make your regular Windows updates more secure, and can help prevent spyware from being installed on your computer.

Windows Vista does not contain virus scan software, which is why new users will see a warning message telling them that their computer is not adequately protected from viruses. If you install anti-virus software that the Windows update doesn’t recognize, then you may also receive this same warning message or a stronger warning. Hence, although Windows updates are a measure to implement in your security tactics, it is also advisable to install approved and recognized anti-virus software.

Windows Updates – A Think Tank of Security Measures

Microsoft has proven to be innovative, and they have experienced dramatic success. Today, however, they are faced with growing competition from companies such as Apple and Linux. Microsoft knows that they must remain competitive, and they understand that it is people, not software, which drives their company. To this end, Microsoft consistently hires some of the best programmers in the world, who are drawn to Microsoft as they wish to be employed by a leading, Fortune 500 company.

When infusing the Microsoft Updates into your computer system, you are essentially installing updates from some of the best minds in the world. Their on-going and relentless evaluation of security measures helps Microsoft to fix and repair security bugs often before they become known publically, or worse, to hackers. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Thus, installing Windows updates helps to prevent possible infiltration by hackers and identity thieves alike.

Windows Updates

You can set up your computer security to automatically check for Windows updates that will give you the needed updates as they become available. Manually performing this task is easy by selecting the option in the Control panel.

The Windows Update function is no longer web-based, and as the function resides internally you now have a much faster update function allowing you to look for both Windows updates and other Microsoft product updates seamlessly. When available, you will receive a notice to install any important updates that will affect your computer security and your computer performance, as well as any additional updates, such as drivers and peripheral updates, which are not mandatory and available as an optional download.

To install updates, simply click on the button and the automated installation of your updates will be installed. You can also choose to hide the update if you need to ignore it. You can adjust your settings for Windows updates under the Change Settings option, which allows you to decide how frequently and at what time you want to check for Microsoft Windows updates.

The Windows update option will also allow you to choose what types of updates you want to check for. Essential updates will install automatically when you shutdown your computer, and you should only change the setting if you connection is not compatible or you do not want that particular update. Windows may also ask you to reboot your computer for certain updates, which can be disabled if you are logged on and do not wish to reboot at that time.

Windows Updates of Service Packs

You can also use your Windows Updates to download and install essential Windows Service Packs. You must install the service packs chronologically, thus the first Service Pack before you install the second. All service packs may be downloaded from Microsoft’s Download Center.

Prior to installing, you should always disable your virus scan software before you install the service packs to make sure that your computer security does not prevent the installation from occurring.

After the installation has occurred, you can delete the files from the installation to free up more memory on your computer. You can use the command COMPCLN in your Start Search Field and then hit Y to confirm. This will only work once both Service Packs have been installed. You can also delete other update files once updates have occurred to create more memory space for your computer.

By downloading and installing Windows Service Packs you are taking needed measures to ensure the protection of sensitive data against an onslaught of attackers.

How to Remove a Virus

Viruses are running rampant on the internet, and it creates a direct risk to your computer security. If a virus infiltrates your computer, it can destroy your data, allow someone to steal your personal information, or cause even worse damage. For that reason, virus removal is very important. Every day, hundreds of people fall victim to viruses, malware, and spyware, so there is a significant chance that at some point you will need to know about virus removal.

The most important thing to do when you have a computer virus is to avoid panicking. Panicking will not help the situation, and it could cause you to make mistakes that will further add to your problem. Most often you will not have to wipe your computer completely clean to facilitate the virus removal. In fact, you may be able to remove the virus without losing any data.

Removing a Virus – Detection

Before you can begin with virus removal, you have to determine if you have a virus. If your computer suddenly becomes sluggish or if your web browser looks different, you could have a virus on your computer. Another sign of infection is if your computer starts crashing frequently or if you attempt to open files and are told that they are corrupted.

To confirm a computer virus and its location, you will want to run antivirus software. Purchase or download an application to your computer. If the virus prevents you from doing so, you may have to transfer the program from another computer using a disk or flash drive.

Finding and Removing the Virus

When you are ready to remove a virus, it is important to remember that two antivirus programs are not better than one. Besides the fact that antivirus programs will eat up a lot of the available processing power on your computer, running two at once could cause your computer to crash. In addition, most often antivirus programs do not work together, thus crippling the functionality of both.

Running the antivirus software will alert you as to where the virus is housed on your machine, and you’ll need to make a list of the applications that are discovered. Your antivirus program may be able to remove or isolate the virus for you, but you will need to select this option. In most cases, this is a better alternative to attempting virus removal on your own.

If everything runs successfully, shut off your computer and run the software again. You should come up with a clean sweep, and if not you will need to continue removing viruses. If your program discovers the same virus again, you may have to manually perform the virus removal yourself.

Virus Removal Tips for Better Computer Security

  •  Use the boot disk. If your antivirus software allows you to create a special boot disk, then you can restart your computer with this disk. This will allow your computer to run a virus scan immediately on startup, hopefully bypassing the virus code and allowing you to disable the virus.
  •  Try safe mode. If you find the same virus is popping up on each scan, then you can try starting your computer in safe mode. This allows you to operate your computer and perform computer security tasks using only the core elements of Windows.
  •  Run the antivirus program in safe mode. This can allow you to find hidden viruses and allow you to remove all infected applications.

If you find that your antivirus software cannot complete the virus removal, you may have to do some additional research. Look for the files online with your antivirus software provider and it should be able to tell you where to find the virus and how to remove it.

Remember to save a backup copy in your registry folder in case you accidentally delete something important. Then delete all of the files associated with the computer virus, reboot your computer, and try the antivirus software again.

Worst Case Scenario in Virus Removal

If you have tried repeatedly to delete a virus and the above methods aren’t working, then you may be forced to do a complete system wipe. This will require you to format your hard drive and reload the operating system. Therefore, you should make sure that you make backups of all the important virus free files that you have to prevent essential data from being lost.

Virus removal can be difficult, so the best way to remove viruses is to avoid getting them in the first place. Be savvy when using the internet to help prevent your computer from catching a virus that will compromise your computer security.

The qPCo 8-Point Speed Up Guide

QuickPCOptimizer (qPCo) is a complete performance toolbox that helps you speed up your PC just after a few clicks. In this guide, I’ll show you how you can use qPCo’s many features to your utmost ‘speed up’ advantage.

1. Run a Windows® registry scan.
First and foremost, run a registry scan and let qPCo automatically detect all the problems that are causing your system to slow down. qPCo delves deep into the registry, checking various things such as font entries, registry malware, sharred DLL entries, and other so this may take a while. Once the scan is complete, you’ll be shown a list of the registry problems found. From here, you can simply click the Fix Errors Now button to enable qPCo to fix all the problems in one go or you can choose to manually select which errors you want repaired and then click the Fix Errors Now button.

qPCo overview

Note that before any repairs are done, a complete backup of your current registry settings are made by qPCo so you can always come back to it if you ever want to.

2. Defragment the Windows® registry.
Another way to speed up your PC is to defrag the Windows® registry. You see, the registry contains data and settings for all the hardware, software, users, and preferences of a specific PC and this data can be ‘scattered’ all over the registry. To enable the registry to perform more efficiently it makes sense that all data is easily accessible right? In short, if related date is close together, the registry need not spend time and effort going all over the place to perform a task that you want it to do.

3. Use the built-in speed up booster.
Unlike other tools, qPCo offers users the ability to speed up and optimize their systems in a customized way. Simply select the option that best descrivbes your computer and click Optimize. This section allows you to optimize PC memory and clock malicious ActiveX controls!

speed up pc

4. Uninstall unwanted programs on your PC.
One of the main reasons your PC is slow is because you simply have way too much software installed. Now you try to uninstall them but unknown to you, many of these programs actually leave behind parts of themselves on on your PC, which only consume disk space and – you guessed it – slow down your PC. qPCo’s uninstaller feature completely gets rids of programs you no longer want on your system.

5. Permanently delete documents.
For sure, you’ve got plenty of files and documents sitting around just gathering dust on your hard drive. If you’re not using them… ditch them as they just use up disk space and slow down your system. However, it’s understandable that you don’t want anyone else to be able to un-delete them just as easily as you’ve gotten rid of them, right?

Well, qPCo just happens to have a feature that allows you to completely erase one or more files, beyond recovery, using the latest security standards available today. The DoD (Department of Defence) standard implies 3 passes over each file to be called ‘completely erased’, the NSA standard implies 7 passes… qPCo supports up to 10 passes! (Note: a pass is equal to one overwrite of that file using random data.)

6. Clean your personal history.
As you browse online, you leave certain digital footprints all over the place. As such, it’s extremely important to clean your personal browsing history. It not only helps prevent id theft and data loss but it also helps speed up Internet browsing time.

clean online histrory

7. Manage IE plugins.
Is launching and using Internet Explorer to browse the web slow? This is probably because it’s launching not one but several plugins behind-the-scenes. Use qPCo to un-register or delete any plugin that you don’t want lurking in the background while you’re online.

8. Manage StartUp programs.
PC startup takes forever? Just like the ‘hidden IE plugins’ there are probably a couple of programs that are all trying to launch or open as you start your computer. All of these applications are competing for attention as your system starts, making start up times sluggish. Use qPCo to check out which programs are trying to launch without your knowledge and… put them in their place!

PC’s eventually slow down because we use them a lot; call it ‘normal wear and tear’. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything to speed it up again. Follow the 8-point guide above and experience a faster, more efficient PC in minutes.

How to Install qPCo on Your PC

Here’s how you can quickly install QuickPCOptimizer (qPCo) on your PC.

  1. Start by clicking here to download the program installer.
  2. If you’re using Internet Explorer, click Run in the window that appears below the browser. However, if you’re using Firefox, click Save File and save the file anywhere on your PC.
  3. If you downloaded the file on your computer, double-click QuickPCOptimizerSetup.exe.
  4. Follow the simple step-by-step install instructions.
  5. Click Start Scan in QuickPCOptimizer to run a PC performance scan.

It’s also just as easy to uninstall qPCo from your PC. Just follow the simple instructions here: http://quickpcoptimizer.com/uninstall.php

5 Ways to Boost the Speed of Your PC

Computers, like people, get old, and the advance in age corresponds to a decline in speed. The good news is there are ways to make that aging computer shake off its sluggishness (at least for a while longer) and perform the way it used to. This article contains tips on how to speed up your PC easily.

5 Ways to Speed Up Your PC

What do you do when your once dependable PC starts conking out? Many would want to ditch it in favor of a new system. However, if you’ve got money problems and are short on mortgage or rent payments, that may not be an option. And besides, as most computer nerds know,  buying a new PC is NOT necessary because you can easily make it perform faster again… IF you know how.

Here are a number of practical ways to de-congest your machine and get it back in shape. Some affordable upgrade suggestions are also thrown in. The first three steps are pretty straightforward and free so even the inexperienced can do them. Steps four and five however, call for more time and advanced know-how, and occasionally, money to realize.

Do a thorough virus check. Viruses are usually to blame for system slowdowns. Anti-virus software like AVG Antivirus and Avira AntiVir get rid of them automatically so you’re always assured of a clean PC. Such programs provide complete virus scans, built-in capability to handle future viruses, plus free updates. Upon downloading the software, you’re guided through the scan and cleanup process. The end-result: a clean PC.

Defragment your hard drive. Saving and deleting stuff from the hard drive causes data to scatter all over the drive in pieces. The hard drive then has to search several places to retrieve one file, slowing everything down. Drive defragment will put order to the pieces so they make sense, hastening access times. System Tools in the Accessories of Windows folder has the defragment tool. Select “defragment” and wait. Letting the thing run overnight wouldn’t hurt if the drive is big.

Run a file cleanup. A sluggish computer didn’t get that way on its own. You, as its owner, had a significant hand in it. At some point, you might have clicked one too many OKs on checkboxes for installing stuff, tested out numerous freeware, and played a bunch of CDs. Now start up takes 10 minutes, three kinds of errors pop up when launching the browser, and crashes happen almost hourly.

Actually, how full the hard drive is has zero to do with PC operation speed, unless it’s practically filled to bursting that Windows has trouble writing temporary files. The real problem is that most programs you install feature components that are always running, which burdens the computer processor. One example is iTunes. It’s got a couple of components that are running in the background invisibly ALL the time. Both aid in iTunes communication with iPods when plugged in, but what’s the use of having them eat up memory and slow down the CPU if you do not own an iPod in the first place?

To view everything buzzing in the background, bring up Windows Task Manager by pressing Ctrl, Alt-Delete on your keyboard. Microsoft’s Processor Explorer is a slightly more complicated free app for use. Right-click any process to Google it.

Windows Vista and XP users have instructions they can follow to easily prevent unnecessary apps from loading upon StartUp. When done going over the various processes and removing those that aren’t necessary, the system will start performing faster, especially on StartUp since the programs it will load when Windows launches have been reduced. If this doesn’t work, call in the heavy artillery.

Go back to square one.  Sometimes you’ve got no choice but to wipe out everything from the computer and start from zero. Even if a computer is well taken care of, there will come a time when starting over is easier than tracking down every single issue behind the slowdown or malfunction. Task one is pulling off all critical files and writing down program names important to you. This could mean placing video and MP3 on external hard drives together with whatever else you’d like spared from destruction (bookmarks, game files and email folders). Preserve all of it using external hard drives.

For computers made by big manufacturers, re-installation from scratch probably involves simply slipping in a recovery CD and selecting the “restore” option. Some firms don’t even need a disk as all info required is tucked away somewhere on the hard drive that can be accessed when a complete do-over is called for. If there’s no restore disk, you will need a Windows key that is usually found printed on the PC label, plus one install disc.

Upgrade Windows. If Windows was recently installed and you still have problems running some programs, there’s not much that can be done with the hardware. It’s time to upgrade. Sounds daunting, but don’t worry. You just need to focus on a few key parts in the upgrade task.

RAM acts as the system memory and is the first to be checked. RAM can speed up stuff like running multiple programs simultaneously and switching among them. Go to System under the Windows control panel to find out how much RAM you’ve got. Determine how much can be added by counting the number of sockets the motherboard has. Choose the correct specs by checking out the upgrade guide of PCWorld. Go to eHow.com for advice on RAM installation. RAM is super cheap so if you add some, get the maximum your PC can accommodate.

The other thing to think about is the video card. If you own an inexpensive computer, you’re most likely utilizing built-in integrated graphics in the motherboard instead of a distinct graphics processing unit (GPU) that’s more powerful. If you can’t play 3D games without encountering issues, then adding another GPU might take care of the speed problem. See to it that the motherboard can support the card purchased.

Newer systems utilize PCI Express while older ones use AGP ports. Refer to the computer manual to verify which one you have. Opt for the cheaper variety of cards. Although many will recommend a CPU upgrade too, it’s usually too complex to bother with if all you’re after is additional speed. If a new processor is required, consider just buying a new PC altogether.

When confronted with a sluggish computer system, most people automatically think they need to crack open the hardware and tinker around inside to improve performance. However, with so many options for solving the problem, this seems like more of a last resort solution, especially for casual PC users. Take baby steps when it comes to approaching the process of boosting computer speed. Chances are you’ll find that trusty computer bouncing back and acting like it used to minus having to plug any extras.

The Risks of Connecting a Computer to the Internet

The internet can be a valuable source of information, entertainment, and socialization. In fact, the internet can virtually open the doors to all possibilities. However, there are also certain computer risks that come along with connecting your computer to the internet. Here are some of the hidden internet dangers that could affect your family.

The Risks of Connecting a Computer to the Internet – Exposing Children to Inappropriate Material

Most parents are already aware of the computer risk that walks hand in hand with the internet – the risk that their child will stumble upon something inappropriate. It is difficult to regulate the Internet, and children can easily find inappropriate material even from seemingly innocent keyword searches. Filtering programs can only go so far to protect children, and may have their own hidden agenda.

The Risks of Connecting a Computer to the Internet – Invasion of privacy

Another risk that comes along when hooking your computer up to the internet is the risk that you or your child will be hurt or exploited. Any information that is posted online should be considered public information, and giving away personal information could place you identity and your security at risk. Children are particularly at risk for believing everything they read online, making them a high risk contender of child predators and scammers that could be looking to steal their identity or worse.

A subset of this is the “stranger danger” that is present to all children online. Online predators may attempt to establish a relationship with a child, earning their trust. Besides the risk of identity fraud, some predators may take it as far as trying to stalk the child. Public chat rooms are particularly dangerous to children who may not know who they are talking to.

The Risks of Connecting a Computer to the Internet – Copyright Infringement, Plagiarism, and Cheating

When articles, pictures, and other information are posted online, they remain the intellectual property of someone else. However, this is hard to police, and many people, children and adults included, think nothing of stealing someone else’s work online. The internet has created new ways for people to cheat, from offering already written term papers to the posting of answers to quizzes and other homework. Thankfully, while the Internet can make cheating easier to do, it can also make it easier for teachers to check if their students are cheating.

The Risks of Connecting a Computer to the Internet – Faulty Information

Since the information online is in no way policed, there is no real way to tell whether the information you are receiving is accurate. In some cases, if you trust the source, you can obtain accurate information from the internet. In many other cases, however, there is no way to tell how accurate the information is, and in some cases it may be entirely someone’s opinion or falsified statistics. Anyone can publish information on the Internet, regardless of whether or not they are an expert in the subject.

The Risks of Connecting a Computer to the Internet – Hackers

Hackers are individuals with knowledge in how to find and use weaknesses in computer software to their advantage. In some cases the activities may be minor, but in other cases hackers can spread viruses and steal personal information. The techniques utilized by hackers are growing increasingly difficult to defend, as evident in the growing number of victims.

The Risks of Connecting a Computer to the Internet – Malicious code

Sadly, the internet is full of viruses, worms, and other malicious codes that can harm your computer and steal your information. Viruses are infections that come from a specific activity you have done, such as opening an email from an unknown source or downloading an attachment. Worms can enter the system on their own, and then spread from your computer to any others you are in contact with. Trojan Horses are designed to look like one thing, yet have a hidden agenda that it runs in the background and steals information.

The Risks of Connecting a Computer to the Internet – Time management

While this computer risk may not be as severe as others that come from hooking your computer up to the internet, time management presents a major problem for children and adults alike. In fact, there are now many rehabilitation centers which specialize specifically in Internet addiction.

The Risks of Connecting a Computer to the Internet – Health

You might not think that hooking your computer up to the internet would present health risks, but it can. Most commonly, heavy internet users suffer from repetitive strain injuries, eyestrain, and skeletal problems. The arm and wrist is the most common spot for repetitive strain industries, particularly on the side that uses the mouse. Posture problems are also common. And since electronic displays are harder to read than printed words, long term computer use can also lead to eyestrain. In extreme cases, it is even thought that overuse of the Internet could cause depression as some users try to replace normal human interaction with email and instant messaging.

There are numerous risks associated with connecting your computer to the internet. However, the more aware you are of these risks, the easier it is for you to avoid them.

 

What Do Firewalls Contribute to PC Security?

There are numerous hidden dangers out there than can affect your PC security, and the tactics grow daily. Since computer security is so important to keeping your personal information safe, most computers now come with a firewall, while those that do not strongly recommend that you install one. Here is a look at how firewalls work and how they can protect your PC’s security.

How Firewalls Keep you Secure

A firewall is needed for anyone who is on the internet for an extended period of time. Companies often use them to block access to certain sites by their employees; however, you may also utilize them at home to protect your personal computer. A firewall offers you PC security against hackers and offensive websites. Simply put, a firewall is a barrier that keeps unwanted items from accessing your computer, much like a physical firewall prevents a fire from spreading from one area to another.

The Firewall Software and What it Does for Computer Security

In the virtual world, a firewall is a program that filters information. If incoming information is flagged, the computer will not allow it through. This helps protect your computer for questionable content that could be of danger to you.

In a company scenario, a business often has multiple computers that are connected together. These computers are often simultaneously connected to the internet. If there is no firewall set up, all a hacker would have to do is access one computer in the network and he or she could access all of the company computers.

It would only take one employee leaving a computer unprotected for the entire company’s PC security to be at risk. A firewall is placed at each point of entry to the internet, thus creating a virtual barrier.

Each firewall may possess its own rules or settings. For instance, only one computer might be allowed to receive public FTP traffic and the others would only be allowed network access. The company can also block certain websites and files to keep access to the internet and the network limited.

Three Methods Firewalls Employ to Protect PC Security

There are three different methods that firewalls can use to help keep up your computer security:

1. Packet filtering – the firewall analyzes small chunks of data against filters. If the packet makes it through, it gets sent to the requesting system, and if it doesn’t then it is discarded.

2. Proxy service – the firewall obtains information from the internet and transmits it to the requesting system, and any outgoing information is retrieved by the firewall and sent to the internet.

3. Stateful inspection – this is similar to the packet filtering method, but alternatively looks at specific parts of the packet and compares it to trusted information. If information is being sent out of the firewall, then it is checked for certain characteristics, and incoming information is compared to these. If the two match up, the information is allowed through, if not it is discarded.

Customizing Your Firewall for Ultimate Computer Security

What makes firewalls so useful is the fact that they can be customized. IP addresses are one way that this can be done – if a certain IP address is reading too many company files, then the firewall can be set up to block all traffic from the specified IP address. Alternatively, domain names can be used in the same fashion, since IP addresses can change and be difficult to remember. So the company can choose to block certain domain names in efforts of overall computer security.

Another way that the firewall can protect PC security is through protocols, or the text that describes how the two ends will have their conversation. This allows the firewall to block IP, TCP, HTTP, SMTP, and other common protocols from accessing the computer. Often, only one or two computers may have access to a certain protocol, and it will be banned from all others. The firewall can also be used to block certain ports, preventing a certain type of server from being accessed except by allowed computers.

Lastly, a firewall can be set up to block specific words and phrases. This will cause the firewall to block anything that is given a certain keyword. The keyword has to be an exact match, but you can include as many words, phrases, and variations as you choose to. This type of filtering is often useful for blocking adult content from computers, particularly in the workplace or homes where children have access to the internet.

Many operating systems will have the firewall built in, but you can install your own if you do not like the factory standard application, or if one is not included. Installing a firewall is a needed step if you are serious about protecting your PC security from the outside world.

How to Check a Website’s Security

There are a large variety of things that you can do online. From downloading to shopping, to watching videos and playing games. But when it comes to website security, how do you know if a website is safe or if it contains malware, viruses of spyware? Here are some helpful tips that can keep you safe and secure while you browse the internet.

Website Name – Google It!

If you are unsure about a particular website’s security, one of the first things that you can do is to perform a search of the name of the website or the company that runs it. Look for reviews and feedback on the website, or even scams and malware that are linked to the website. If you are seeing a lot of negativity about a website, then it is a good idea to avoid doing business or downloading from that site.

Place Your Trust… in Trusted Resources

Many web browsers find relief by utilizing programs such as McAfee Site Advisor or MyWot.com. These services provide you with warning levels of each website, allowing you to see if others have had an issue with website security or have been infected with malware as a result of visiting the site. You should use caution with any website that comes up with a warning, as it could lead to your computer security being compromised.

Perform a “Who Is” Search to Determine Internet Security

Some resources on the internet will allow you to determine the website security of a site by looking at the “who is” records of the company. They will tell you information such as the registrar name, status, expiration date and more.

This information can provide you with additional information as to the credibility of the website. For example, if the website was just created recently it may not be as professional as one that has been around for much longer. Or, if the domain is set to expire soon, the website may not be as well maintained as other sites. So knowing who is in charge of the website and what they are doing is an important part of website security.

You can also use this information to get contact information on the owner of a website. Use this information to send them a brief email. A good website will have great support going all the time, meaning that you should get an answer to your question relatively quickly.

See What Others are Saying about Website Security

A great place to learn more information about a company is to check out forums and discussion boards for the specific topic. People are quite vocal about their opinions on the internet, so if a company has a bad reputation or has malware associated with it; you are going to hear about it.

Look for forums in a related topic and see what people are saying. On a more positive note, this can also be a good way to hear positive things about website security and the reputation of the company as well.

If you can’t find a thread or post about a particular website, that doesn’t mean that people don’t have an opinion. They may not have posted about it yet, or the post may have gotten buried in more current concerns. Try posting a thread of your own to see what sort of response you get about the website’s security.

Networks and Communities Share Internet Security Concerns as Well

Forums and discussion boards aren’t the only place to find information on website security. You can also check out other networks and communities that allow you to ask questions and get a response. These communities are set up to connect people with similar interests, so if you look for a community in your topic area there is sure to be someone who can give you more information about the website security of a given site.

Consider Trusted Organizations for Website Security

One last option that you have to consider website security is to go with trusted organizations that are known for keeping track of this information. For example, many people already know of the Better Business Bureau to check up on businesses, and the BBB also works with online retailers as well.

Many websites will post the seal of the organization that they are a member of. While this alone isn’t necessarily an indicator of website security, it does mean that you can check out reviews of that company online to see what others are saying.

Website security is a lot like security in real life – you must be aware of your surroundings and what is going on. The more aware you are of website security, the less likely it will be that malware will find a way onto your computer.

How to Protect Your PC Against a Virus

Computer viruses are crippling on any PC. A well-designed virus can have a devastating effect on a company or the person who downloads it, leading to billions of dollars in damages if it spreads far enough.

Viruses can be very hard to contain and can infect millions of computers in a single day, thus illustrating how connected (and vulnerable!) the world wide web has made each and every one of us.

Types of Computer Viruses

There are multiple types of viruses that can interfere with your computer security. Some of the most common viruses that you may encounter include:

  • Email viruses – these are a specialized form of computer virus that comes attached to an email. It can then mail itself to everyone in your address book. You may not even have to open the attachment to become infected by the virus, as some are designed to start infiltrating your computer’s security as soon as the infected message is read.
  • Trojan horses – this is a computer program that claims to perform one task but instead employs alternative actions resulting in damage to your computer or your files. It cannot replicate on its own and requires you to download and run it.
  • Viruses – this is a small piece of software that sneaks in along with another program, such as a spreadsheet. When the real program runs, then virus also runs, giving it the chance to do the damage it was programmed to do or reproduce and spread.
  • Worms – worms are a type of software that looks for security holes in computer networks, spreading from one computer to another if they have the same security hole. It can copy itself and then spread from the new computer to the next.

Where Viruses Come From

The term ‘computer virus’ comes from the fact that it spreads in a similar fashion to the biological variety. They can be passed from one computer to another much like the common cold virus is passed from one person to another. A virus cannot reproduce itself. A computer virus must come in on another program or document in order to be able to affect your computer.

People write computer viruses, test them, and then release them. The reasons why can vary. Some people get a thrill out of being destructive, much in how vandals destroy someone else’s property. Others like the thrill of watching things blow up; such as those who make their own bombs or who enjoy watching car wrecks. And others do it simply for the bragging rights, and see the creation of a virus as a challenge that must be met before someone else beats you to it. Most of the virus creators do not seem to realize or care about the people who are harmed by their creations.

The History and Evolution of Computer Viruses

Computer viruses first started to come out in the late 1980s, as the personal computer started to become more widely used. At this time computer bulletin boards were also becoming popular, allowing people to download different programs like games and simple software. This started the creation of the Trojan horse, a hostile program.

The earliest viruses were small, and were attached to popular games and programs. When the person ran the program, the virus would load itself, modifying additional programs to include its code, and then launched the real program. The user often didn’t even realize that the virus had run itself, and would spread it from one computer to the next when they shared programs and viruses. From there the virus would enter an attack phase, where they would do something destructive like cause your computer screen to light up with a silly message or erasing all of your data.

As computers evolved, so did viruses. As floppy disks fell out of favor, virus creators learned new tricks for spreading them. This led to the creation of email viruses, which were spread through email attachments and worms, which could copy themselves from one machine to another by taking advantage of a security hole.

Protecting Your Computer from Viruses

There are several ways that you can protect your computer’s security from viruses and other malware. A secure operating system is often the front line. Further to this method, you should install virus protection software to help prevent viruses from making their way onto your computer. You should also avoid downloads from unknown sources, as well as install computer updates on a regular basis. The more conscious you are of computer viruses, the easier it will be to protect yourself from them!