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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A computer is a lot like a car

A computer is a lot like a car, it needs regularly scheduled maintenance to run optimally. I would recommend that if your running Windows (98, 2000 or XP) that you perform the following:

1) Keep Windows updated with all of the critical updates and patches which can be found on their site at this location:

2) Run a good, reasonably current, Anti-Virus program and keep it updated. New viruses are being released everyday and the only way you can protect yourself is to keep updating your virus defiinitions so your system knows what to look for. Most commercial programs have a way to do automatic updates, turn it on!

3) Periodically Defragment your harddrive. I would recommend doing it once a month. On XP this can be found by clicking the Start button (usually in the lower left), then choose All Programs, Accessories, then System Tools and then run Disk Defragmenter

4) Run an Anti Spyware program. This has become an epidemic and companies like Dell report it is accounting for most of their support calls. Spyware will bog your machine down to a crawl. I actually run two free programs to make sure my machines are clean. I use Spybot Search and Destroy which i like a lot because it can immunize your machine against known Spyware as well as look for new ones: I also run Adaware from Lavasoft:

5)Run a pop up blocker. I avoid the known ones from Google and Yahoo because companies have found ways around them: I like the one from Panicware: lots of Spyware installs off of popups.

6) Run Msconfig periodically to see if which programs are getting started automatically when Windows starts. This can be found by clicking the Start button (usually in the lower left), then choose Run and type msconfig in the run line and hit the OK button. This will open up the System Configuration Window. Choose the Startup tab and look at the lines with the checks next to them, those are the programs that are starting automatically. If you don't know what something is, uncheck it. You can always go back and turn it back on. I try to keep the things starting automatically to a minimum. You can usually tell what something is by looking at the location it is installed in and is running from.

7) If your running Internet Explorer, I would get a copy a BHO tool. BHO is a Microsoft technology and stands for Browser Helper Object and are basically things that startup when you open IE. Lots of Spyware and other garbage, attach themselves to IE and run as BHOs. I've see BHOs that throw up popups when IE opens, or change your homepage, or your search preferences (when you type in a bad url, it will redirect you to their search page. Some are benign and some are down right nasty. Check out BHODemon:,fid,23611,00.asp

Consider dumping the Internet Explorer browser for something like Firefox or Mozilla

and consider dumping Outlook or Outlook Express (most of the mail exploits were targeted at those programs) and use the mail function in Mozilla or get something like Eudora


Discussion Starter · #2 ·
A good firewall helps also. I

A good firewall helps also. I use Norton Personal Firewall 2004. An added layer of protection.

Great info Michael. Some stuff that even I haven't heard before.

Isn't it funny that the hackers have created an entire industry?


Discussion Starter · #3 ·

Hey t


Hey this SpyBot stuff is NO JOKE!!! The stuff is a real threat over 13K different types! Recently DL'd SpyBot S&D & was shocked speechless at what it found creepin round!

The MSConfig is no joke either!!!

IE sucks so bad it's pathetic!!! Talk about a hackers dream come true!!!

Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks guys, you helped talk m

Thanks guys, you helped talk me off the ledge with the clutch on my 355 so I figured I would try and contribute something.

Now that you have an understanding of protecting your computer, we can take it out a level and talk about the network security.

Today, with most people having high speed internet connections, especially through cable modems. I highly recommend that you be using some form of Firewall.

In the cable modem scenario, the cable comes into your house, gets split off from your TV signal and then comes up to a cable modem. Usually your personal computer plugs directly into the cable modem and that is how you get your internet connection. I highly recommend that you insert a Firewall or Network address Translation (NAT) box between your machine and the Internet. Network communication relies on "ports", basically locations where programs know where to plug in and communicate. All software you use on the Internet, whether it's a browser, email or an FTP program, use these ports. A firewall will close these ports and based on rules, with either allow or restrict communication through these ports. A firewall can be a piece of software that you run on your machine (called a personal firewall) or a piece of hardware that you put between the internet and your machine. Another effective, less complicated way to protect yourself is through the use of a NAT box. In order to communicate on the Internet, every machine needs a unique Internet Protocol (IP) address. What a NAT box does is sit between your machine(s) and the Internet and becomes the only public facing machine with an IP address that the public can see, and the beauty is, since it's not really a computer, it is essentially closed off. It "hides" all machines behind it, by assigning them private addresses which when your trying to address the Internet, the NAT box will then translate the internal private address, to it's public one and thus allow communication. To the outside world, all the communication looks like it is coming from the NAT box which is sealed off from hackers. Another major benefit of a NAT box is it lets you share your Internet connection. Most have built in Hubs or Switches that let you plug in many computers, which all get the same protection and can share that single Ineternet connection. Many companies now make small firewalls or NAT boxes for the Small Office, Home Office (SOHO) market, once such example is this one from LinkSys
I personally use a Linksys model which in addition to the features included in the product above, also allows for wireless connections, so my wife and i can roam the house and yard with our laptops.

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