Tech Tip of the Week
Tech tip(s) of the week: Security
Let me start by warning you that this is a long post. That’s only because it includes instructions and information that we all NEED to know and practice.
I don’t mean to scare y’all, but there are bad people out there.
Even on the internet.
Especially on the internet, where it’s easy to hide behind nicknames, and anonymous logins, not to mention pose as somebody else – such as banks, organizations, Nigerian generals… heck, even UPS!
Here are ten things you can do to protect yourself from scammers and malware (e.g., viruses, worms, adware, spyware, etc.)
1. Do NOT open attachments. Especially from people you don’t know. More than that, be careful when opening emails. There are obvious emails that you know you shouldn’t open, however what about the ones you get from people you know? What if your friend has a virus and it is spreading itself through emails or on Facebook? I’m pretty sure you’ve seen the Facebook post about the “free iPad” or the silly video of you. These are designed to get you curious enough to click on them, but before you do, think about the possible consequences. An email or post cannot be important enough to risk getting a virus. Delete the email and send a fresh email to your friend asking them if they actually did send you the email. It is better to be safe than sorry.
2. Do NOT download files from websites. There is no 100% sure way of knowing what you are downloading. The file can appear to be named like the file you want, however it could be anything. Most of the time, this is how a virus is unleashed, it usually seems like a harmless, familiar object. This includes songs. Don’t be the next virus victim, nor the next RIAA target.
3. Scan your downloaded files before you open and install them. Okay, you ask, what about things that you are sure are safe to download? After downloading the file/s, let your anti-virus program scan them first. These downloaded files are, by default, set to go to the “Downloads” folder. Go there, right-click on your downloaded file, then click, “Scan with (insert name of anti-virus program here).” More on anti-virus programs later.
4. Turn on Windows Firewall. Example instructions below:
1. Open Windows Firewall by clicking the Start button , clicking Control Panel, clicking Security, and then clicking Windows Firewall.
2. Click Turn Windows Firewall on or off. If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
3. Click On (recommended), and then click OK.
If you want the firewall to block everything, including the programs selected on the Exceptions tab, select the Block all incoming connections check box.
Windows Vista and Windows 7
To turn on Automatic Updates yourself, follow these steps:
1. Click Start, type Windows update in the search box, and then click Windows Update in the Programs list.
2. In the left pane, click Change settings.
3. Select the option that you want.
4. Under Recommended updates, select the Give me recommended updates the same way I receive important updates or Include recommended updates when downloading, installing, or notifying me about updates check box, and then click OK.
To turn on Automatic Updates yourself, follow these steps:
1. Click Start, click Run, type sysdm.cpl, and then press ENTER.
2. Click the Automatic Updates tab, and then click to select one of the following options. We recommend that you select the Automatic (recommended) Automatically download recommended updates for my computer and install them option.
o Automatic (recommended) Automatically download recommended updates for my computer and install themIf you select this option, Windows recognizes when you are online and uses your Internet connection to find updates on the Windows Update Web site or on the Microsoft Update Web site that apply to your computer. Updates are downloaded automatically in the background, and you are not notified or interrupted during this process. An icon appears in the notification area of your taskbar when the updates are being downloaded. You can point to the icon to view the download status. When the download is complete, you receive another message in the notification area so that you can review the updates that are scheduled for installation.
§ Click to select the day and time for scheduled updates to download and install. You can schedule Automatic Updates for any time of day. However, your computer must be on at the scheduled time for updates to be installed.
§ You can choose to install the updates as soon as they are finished downloading. To do this, click the download message (or update icon), and then click Install. If you choose not to install the updates when they finish downloading, Windows starts the installation on your set schedule.
o Download updates for me, but let me choose when to install themIf you select this option, Windows recognizes when you are online and uses your Internet connection to automatically download updates from the Windows Update Web site or from the Microsoft Update Web site. An icon appears in the notification area of your taskbar when the updates are being downloaded. You can point to the icon to view the download status. When the download is complete, you receive another message in the notification area so that you can review the updates that are scheduled for installation.
§ When you want to install the downloaded update, click the message (or update icon), and then click Install to install the update.
§ If you do not want to install a downloaded update, click Details, and then click to clear the check box next to that update to decline it.
o Notify me but don't automatically download or install themIf you select this option, Windows recognizes when you are online and uses your Internet connection to search for downloads from the Windows Update Web site or from the Microsoft Update Web site. An Automatic Updates icon and message appear in the notification area of your taskbar when new updates are available to download or to install.
§ Click the icon or message to view the updates. If you do not want to download a selected update, click to clear the check box next to that update to decline it. Click Start Download to download the selected updates. The Automatic Updates icon remains in the notification area of your taskbar while the updates are being downloaded. You can point to the icon to view the download status.
§ When the download is complete, you receive another message in the notification area stating that the updates are ready to install. Click the Automatic Updates icon or the message, and then click Install to install the updates.
6. When surfing the internet avoid websites that contain illegal music and software downloads, sexual references, free screensavers, serial numbers, etc. I am pretty sure you get the picture. If you go to these sites you are asking for it. Also, when shopping or banking online, look for “https” or a padlock that typically indicates that the transaction is secure. As with anything, this is not 100% fool-proof.
7. Download and install Microsoft Security Essentials. It’s a free, fast, and simple antivirus/anti-malware program. Microsoft makes Windows. They should know their stuff, right? Get it from http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/security_essentials/default.aspx
Oh, did I mention that it’s free?
8. Download and install Malicious Software Removal Tool. It’s another free and simple tool that they put out to get rid of the worst of the biggest viruses. Microsoft makes Windows. They should know their stuff, right? Get it from http://www.microsoft.com/security/pc-security/malware-removal.aspx
Again, did I mention that it’s free?
9. After downloading Microsoft Security Essentials and Malicious Software Removal Tool, run them. Not only that, set them to run automatically every single day. I let them perform a “Full scan” on my home computers every night when I’m done using them. I recommend that you do the same thing.
10. Clear your browsing history periodically. To do that on Internet Explorer (IE), click “Tools” > Delete Browing History > “Delete All” > check “Also delete files and settings stored by add-ons” > click “Yes.” Newer versions of IE will have the “Safety” button where “Delete Browing History” is. This will also help your browser run faster as it gets rid of cookies (files stored by your browser to “remember” what websites look like).
For other browsers such as Google Chrome (my favorite and I strongly encourage you to look into using it), Firefox (my second favorite), Safari, Opera, etc., ping me and I’ll be more than glad to help you.
The internet is a wonderful place. As a matter of fact, I rank it among the top three inventions of all time. It is the only totally democratic (some argue anarchistic) place in the entire world. As with any place though, bad guys exist. I hope this email helps you start becoming more aware and proactively protecting yourselves and your computer. Don’t let the few bad guys and a few bad experiences stop you from learning, creating, interacting, and doing business online.
Happy computing! =D