February 2, 2006
In an emergency or a disaster the worst plan of action is to not have one. We carry spare tires in our cars, we have smoke alarms in our homes, and our children carry cell phones for emergencies. We plan and prepare for things that can go wrong that often never do. Yet the minute your child forgets his/her cellphone, their tire pops on the freeway and the spare is flat. We’ve all heard Murphy’s Law:
“Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”
Your Home Computer is no different. The digital photographs of your family and friends, your financial records, and the e-mail messages your sent and received over the years all constitute valuable data on your computer. If you do not have a plan to recover it, something is certain to destroy it.
Its time to understand What, When, and How to backup the data on your Home Computer.
First, let’s answer the question – What to backup? You’re going to want to backup the files that cannot be easily replaced. Your pictures, financial records, and e-mail all fall into that category. The programs on your computer, can be easily replaced because you recieved installation discs when you purchased the software. You won’t need to back them up.
Ed Bott, Microsoft Press Author and Expert Zone Community Columnist explains the backup file selection process in his article entitled, Windows XP Backup Made Easy
Windows XP makes this task especially easy by giving every user account its own personal profile, which consists of a set of subfolders in the Documents and Settings folder. Your profile holds your personal files (in the My Documents folder), Outlook Express e-mail messages, Internet Explorer Favorites and cookies, and information about your settings and preferences. If you have personal data stored elsewhere, consider moving it into the My Documents folder to make backing up easier. If you’re unwilling or unable to move those files, make a note of where they’re located so you can be sure you add them to your backup set later.
January 30, 2006
I know that music has nothing to do with Home Computer Security, but I needed a break today. If you’re looking for a great place to download music, then visit www.musicfreedom.com.
January 27, 2006
Badware or Malware are generic terms used to describe Computer Viruses, Trojan Horses, and Spyware.
StopBadware.org defines Badware as…
Badware is software that fundamentally disregards a user’s choice over how his or her computer will be used. There are several commonly recognized terms for types of badware – spyware, malware, and deceptive adware. Common examples might be a free screensaver that surreptitiously generates ads, or a malicious web browser toolbar that makes your browser go to different pages than the ones you expected.
How do you know if your Home Computer has been infected with Badware? Common symptoms are:
- Your Home Computer runs slower
- Your Web Browser starts with a website that you did not choose
- Your Home Computer is being bombarded with Popup Windows
How do you check your Home Computer for Badware and remove it? In addition to anti-virus software, I recommend that you download and install the Free program Spybot Search and Destroy.
January 26, 2006
The sales pitch is simple, Switch to Firefox. Safer, Faster, Better. Over 100 Million Downloads. Get Firefox Today. Rediscover the web.
The default Web Browsing Software included with Microsoft Windows is called Internet Explorer. Daniel Miessler sums up my personal experience in an article entitled, Why You Should Dump Internet Explorer. The single most important thing you can do to secure your Home Computer is to *stop* using Internet Explorer.
I could rant for quite a while on this issue. I could provide links to articles that share my opinion. However, I think the Microsoft Internet Explorer Home Page says it best. Count how many times security is mentioned on the page. Fixes to security problems are being sold as features. Yikes!
Firefox is an alternative Web Browser. I’ll say it again. Switch to Firefox. Safer, Faster, Better. Over 100 Million Downloads. Get Firefox Today. Rediscover the web.
January 25, 2006
I know we haven’t fully covered the basics of Securing your Home Computer yet. However, occasionally a nasty program may arrive which you need to be made aware of. This Computer Worm is called Blackworm. You can read all about it by reading the Blackworm Summary.
Make sure you update your anti-virus software and perform a full scan of your machine before February 3rd, 2006. If you know how to backup your data, this would be a good time to do it.
January 23, 2006
Now that we’ve learned a little about Computer Viruses, you need to protect yourself from becoming infected by them.
Rule #1: DO NOT open e-mail attachments.
Unfortunately, the simplest way to send large files between family and friends is to attach them to e-mail messages. It is not always possible to follow Rule #1, so…
Rule #2: Scan all e-mail attachments with Anti-Virus software before opening them.
I recommend that you use AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition. Download and install the software on your home computer and check for updates automatically.
January 20, 2006
We’ve all heard about Computer Viruses. If you have a Windows Home Computer you’ve almost certainly got some or have detected them. What the heck are they and why should you care?
A fantastic description of Computer Viruses can be found at Wikipedia. I realize the article contains alot of information and is quite technical. The important thing to know about computer viruses is that they are bad and you don’t want them.
The following are symptoms of a Computer Virus Infection (source: www.learnthenet.com):
- Your computer starts running sluggishly
- It shuts down unexpectedly or crashes frequently
- It experiences memory problems or runs out of disc space
- Unusual files or directories appear on your system
- Strange messages appear on your screen
Computer Viruses, similar to biological viruses, have the ability to replicate themselves and cause damage to otherwise healthy systems. The good news is that software is available for your Home Computer to detect and remove them from your system. We’ll discuss how to install and use anti-virus software in a future article.
January 19, 2006
To learn more about computer viruses, I found Sophos to be one of the best informational sources. The Top Ten List is a good place to start.
Sophos provides fairly technical information. Don’t worry if you don’t understand it all. Recognition of the current threats is the important thing.
January 18, 2006
No. I didn’t misspell the title. I regularly fish for bluegills because they taste good, they’re easy to clean, and they’re easy to catch. They’re so easy to catch, that a two year old with a Scooby-Doo fishing pole and some worms can catch fifty a day.
Often, Black Hat criminals will go Phishing for you. Why? From a criminals perspective, most Home Computer users are easy to catch. When I fish for bluegills I use worms for bait. When criminals go phishing they use your Trust for bait. Home Computer users are too trusting and consequently, easily caught.
On of the most famous computer worms was the MyDoom virus. The phishing scheme disguises itself as an e-mail message with subject lines including “Error,” “Mail Delivery System,” “Test” or “Mail Transaction Failed”. The virus contains an attachment that if executed by you, will copy itself to all users in your e-mail address book and install hidden software on your home computer.
Message Labs reported that in early January 2004, between 50,000 – 60,000 computers per hour were being infected. At its peak, about 1 in 12 e-mails on the Internet were infected with MyDoom. How’s that for a phishing expedition?