Computer Security 101
Having an office that is completely electronic and computerized is a great thing…..when all the pieces in the puzzle fit together and work. The problem comes up when one or more of the pieces are not working properly. I get asked about this a great deal by individuals whose home (or office) computers are behaving badly. Having said that, I thought that I would write a short blog on computer maintenance and security. This is not intended to be comprehensive and I would refer the reader to the proper tech support or local computer store. While the following is accurate at this writing, doing anything to you computer system or its components mentioned on this blog is done so at your own choosing.
First is computer security. It you do not have antiviral software, get it now! If you do have it, make sure that the license definitions are up to date (click Update button.) In this day and age, getting on the Internet, even for a minute, without antivirus software is like walking down a dark alley by yourself – something bad is going to happen. For reviews on different antiviral products, there are several websites that do a very nice job. I prefer PC World as they give a nice overview of many products. Different individuals will find that different security products work better for them. Ask friends and family members who have used some of these products. The second security measure is to make sure that your Windows Update is current. Open Internet Explorer, click on the “Tools” tab at the top and then click “Windows Update.” Two tabs will come up, click “Express” then download and install all the security updates. You can click the option to turn on “Automatic Updates” on the right of the screen. This would be a good idea for most computer users. Windows will then automatically keep your Windows Updates current.
The third level of security is antispyware software. There are two very good products available at no charge: Ad Aware and Spy Bot. It is wise to run at least two different antispyware programs as no one product is 100% effective. You can purchase the licensed version of these products and then the updates will be automatic. For the free versions, you will need to run the updates manually and this should be done weekly. You should also scan your computer for spyware and viruses a minimum of once a week. While Ad Aware and Spy Bot are effective, I like a third product, Spyware Blaster, for additional security against spyware, malware, trojans, worms and other bad things that can take control of your computer. Like the other two products, the free version of Spyware Blaster needs to be manually updated weekly. The good thing about this product, as compared to the others, is that Spyware Blaster actively blocks spyware from installing on your computer.
The last line of defense is a firewall. This can be either a piece of software or a hardware device. Simply put, firewalls protect access to your computer through the Internet. An excellent, free firewall is Zone Alarm. This is a piece of software that installs on your computer and works continuously in the back ground, similar to Spyware Blaster. This program installs easily but requires a little bit of configuration. Once configured, it requires few if any changes. Updates can be set to automatic. Most of the newer routers used for hooking up multiple computers to a single Internet line have built-in firewalls. It is a good idea to purchase a router that has a firewall built in. You can use both this and a software firewall for extra protection against computer infections. The only piece of software that you should only run one of is the antiviral software as more than one will cause conflicts. It is also important to turn off Windows Firewall if you are using Zone Alarm or another software firewall.
Hopefully these few hints will help to keep your computer free of virus and other “bad actor” infections, allowing smoother operations.