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General Security

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First, I have got to give a BIG thank you to all on this forum. You folks are fantastic.

Now for a question...When I realized that my computer had major problems, I started doing research to figure out how to fix the problems, prevent future problems, etc. As with weverything on the WWW, some good and much bad. So I put my skeptics eyeglasses on, and still ended up installing one piece of malware while trying to fix my problems! Fortunatley I found you cats!

My goal now is twofold. First, I want to ensure that I have done everything that I can to prevent future problems. Second, I want to learn more so that I can be more proactive in helping become part of the solution.

To prevent future issues I have done the following:

1. I have sworn off MS Internet Explorer. I now use Firefox, which I consider to be a far superior browser and from what I undersatnd is far more secure. Is this true? Are there disadvantages to this product?

2. Install and frequently update a good virus program. My choice was NOD32. It is set to update at every reboot. Good choice? Bad choice?

3. Never use MS Outlook as my mail client. This is something that I have been doing for a couple of years so that I can lessen my chance of contributing to the spread of viruses.

4. Install good spyware detection, prevention, and removal programs. I now use Spybot for scanning/removal and SpyWareBlastr for prevention. Are these good choices? Are there other that I should consider?

5. Use a firewall. I am currently just using the XP firewall. Is this sufficient, are there other programs that I should consider.

Now the BIG question...What am I forgetting? :D

Finally, what are the best resourses out there is I am interested in leaning more so that someday I can have the hope of helping out others as I have been helped here.

Thanks again for all of your help! <_<

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I think that's how we all get interested....our computers become infected...we are driven to fix it and then we become educated.

Just keep searching and reading forums and volunteer to help others.

To answer your questions: Spybot Search and Destroy and Spyware Blaster are important tools as are Adaware SE.

I don't have any experience with the Windows Firewall or the virus program you spoke of. But search the internet for other's people's impressions of those tools.

Make sure you update your Critical Updates and keep your virus program updated.
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Well done! You're already better protected than 90%+ of computer users.

1. Firefox is much more secure (for now). Internet Explorer has about a 94% market share that's why almost all the exploits are aimed at it. There is no spyware or malware that can infect you through Firefox that I'm aware of. As it grows in popularity there is the chance that exploits could be found. Gotta love the tabbed browsing and the speed too.

2. I'm afraid I don't know much about NOD32. However, any antivirus program, properly updated will provide great protection. The only program I have a hard time recommending is McAfee. We've seen way too many systems with McAfee infected.

3. MSOutlook is okay if kept updated, and used wisely. I use Outlook everyday, and couldn't live with out it. Although, I've heard great things about Thunderbird

4. We've found that Ad-aware is updated more often for the most current threats. Spybot is still and excellent program. Spyware Blaster is an excellent program, but unless you've purchased the pay version, make sure to update it every so often.

5. XP's firewall blocks data coming into your computer, but doesn't do anything about outbound data. An example would be a trojan on your system communication with a central server, or sending spam. ZoneAlarm is very good with an easy learning curve. My favorite is Sygate

Wireless routers have become very popular, and most have a built-in hardware firewall. That's what I use.

Now the BIG question...What am I forgetting?

As coachwife6 mentioned, Windows critical updates are very important. We recommend enabling automatic updates so Windows critical updates are installed automatically.

Microsoft's Java VM is a big security threat. We recommend installing Sun's Java VM instead: http://java.com/en/index.jsp

Surfing habits are also important. Avoid "adult", warez, and other sites of questionable reputation.

Finally, be very careful of the software you download. Much shareware and freeware contain spyware, as well as even some commercial software. Spyware Guide is a good resource to check before installing unknown software.
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I also suggest you Ad-Aware SE and keep it updated. Be sure to do weekly full system scans. In-hand with Spybot, these two programs will remove just about any type of spyware/adware found on your system. It is important to have two programs because one picks up what the other misses at times.
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