1. Importance of a Virus Scanner: A Antivirus program can help to prevent you from becoming infected with a Virus or Trojan. It is extremely important to make sure this program is updated at least once a week, and all drives are scanned. Viruses usually are used to destroy your Data or Hardware. Where as Trojans are used to gain remote access into your system. Always scan any new files you receive as well, even if they are off a friend, you don't know where those files originated from. ALWAYS use a little common sense when on the Internet as well. Don't accept files from an entrusted source. Don't go to web sites you have received spam for, they can be infected with viruses or asking you to download files that are infected. Always go only to official sites (i.e... If you ask for a web address for Norton and someone says ww.nortfix.com, that is obviously not an official site). Keep in mind that an Antivirus will only detect known viruses. It is possible that someone can create a new virus or manipulate an existing Virus or Trojan to the point it will no longer be detected by an Antivirus. As each unknown virus is discovered it is then added into the Antivirus database. Always create rescue disks for your Antivirus program, these will enable you to access your computer through MS-DOS if you are unable to access it through windows. If you do not have an Antivirus program try the HouseCall free online virus scan the link if on the top right side of this page. Also never run 2 different Antivirus . By using two different Antivirus software, sometimes the rule sets can cause conflicts in each other.. or think the other is a virus.. which can also give false positives (meaning it detects a file as a Virus or Trojan, when it isn't one).. or not detect viruses as it should. Always delete files you do not remember downloading.
2. Importance of a Trojan scanner: A Trojan scanner is exclusively designed to guard against Trojan horses. A Trojan is a method of intrusion into a system. It is a malicious, security breaking program that is disguised as something harmless. A Trojan can grant complete access to your system to unknown parties, allowing them to commit criminal offenses with your Internet connection. If those offenses are investigated the trail will lead right to you. It also possible for them to get personal or business data and some passwords memorized within your computer. The Cleaner is a good Trojan scanner located on www.moosoft.com. Never open any file or download a file off an entrusted source, spammed web sites being one of them. It is very common for someone to set up a web site, then spam that web site saying you are infected with some virus or Trojan download this fix, or saying they have some great password cracking program, etc. Then you fall for it and your infected. Never use any war tools that require you to install something that brings up a warning on your Antivirus, why not to do this will be explained more on the IRC Newbie page. Always delete files you do not remember downloading.
3. Importance of running a Firewall: A Firewall is one of your best defenses of being hacked. That is if your using a good Firewall and have it configured right. ZoneAlarm free download is a decent Firewall. Although I would recommend ZoneAlarm Pro, which blocks a lot of commonly used hacking attempts. Another one I would not recommend is BlackIce, if you see that one run like there is no tomorrow (gives a lot of false positives). Ultimately though I would recommend running at least one Firewall, even if your computer is connected behind a gateway/router. When looking into firewalls it is a good idea to check what features it has. While one may block a number of hacking attempts, it may not block ads or cookies. Make sure to get all the details before deciding on a Firewall to purchase.
Also if you on Windows XP you can configure the Firewall they have built into it, go to start menu ... control panel ..... click network connections ..... double click local area connections ..go to properties ... then select the advanced tab. There you will find the XP Firewall and can enable it. You can also click on the link they provide to learn more about it. Never run 2 firewalls unless one is a software and the other a hardware. Security threats such as those dealing on the application level (your Operating System).. software Firewall can analyze that data better. Whereas hardware better analyzes incoming data from the Internet (snifters, etc.). If you have your own server.. good idea to choose a good one of each (hardware and software). If I am not running a Firewall but would like to see what connections my computer has open how do I do that? Simply go to your start menu under programs or programs/accessories you will find the MS-DOS prompt/Command prompt once you have that open type the command "netstat -an" without the quotations. There is will list the protocol of the connection TCP/UDP, the local address and foreign address, as well as the state which will show either as listening or established. Keep in mind that any connection to the Internet will show up there.
4. Importance of Windows Updates: It is extremely important to update windows. If you are not sure how to, just go to your start menu, then to programs you will see Windows Update there. Windows critical updates are related to security issues within Windows itself. These security issues can be exploited by hackers, these issues can also cause you to get infected easier with a virus if you are a Outlook Express user. As vulnerabilities are detected in Windows critical updates are released for them.
Always be sure to update Windows on a regular basis.
5. Safer Passwords: Never have Windows remember your passwords. If you ever do get an intruder on your system passwords saved in Windows can be retrieved. Instead what I recommend is saving all your passwords to notepad then saving them on a floppy disk. A simple copy and paste to use your passwords for any sites you visit, or accounts you may have online. Never use simple passwords such as names of places, things or people. Also do not use passwords that consist of either all letters or all numbers. The best passwords to have should have a combination of letters and numbers(e.g. g74npw2m5), when possible, use symbols (e.g. #^&%!). If the password is case sensitive, then use upper and lower case . Also make sure that the letters and numbers you use are not in clusters on your keyboard (within same general area on keyboard). Make your passwords longer then you may normally make them. Doing this will make any passwords you have harder for an outside party to crack. Apply this to anything you do on the Internet that requires a password. This one I speak from experience on, my last website on a free host, the password was cracked and the content of those pages changed. For many things available on the Internet you require Username and a password, if someone knows your Username or can figure it out, that is half their battle. So make the other half of their battle as difficult as possible. On Irc including characters in your passwords such as ?, ?, ?, ? ,etc... will help even more, to make your passwords harder to crack. Never use any of the following for your passwords (in whole or part): your name or a pet's name, girlfriend, boyfriend. Anything relating to any hobbies you have. Numbers dealing with you, relatives, friends, family, etc. (birthdays ,Social Insurance Number, significant dates, etc.). All of this can and WILL come back to haunt you.
6. What is Spyware?: Software that is installed on your computer/or a virus, which gathers information about you without your consent or knowledge of it. This information can end up in the hands of advertisers, spam e-mail lists, and other interested parties. It can gather information from cookies on your computer. Cookies can store information about websites you have visited, to develop a general idea of your online activity. Cookies generally store information such as preferences from websites, and they are stored on the hard drive of your computer. If your not comfortable with the idea of someone getting any information about your online activities, as most people are. There are programs out there that can be used for either removing cookies from sites you have visited as well as programs that will detect and remove known spyware programs. Lavasoft Ad-aware is a good program for removing spyware programs. Window Washer is an excellent program for removing a lot of your online history (cookies/temp Internet files... etc...). For people who use Kazaa, don't be surprised if that shows up on an Ad-aware scan, It will. Once you remove the spyware detected, Kazaa will fail to work without it. A suggestion for future use, switch to Kazaa Lite.