Here’s a little help for any one of you fellow Windows victims…
As the manager of a cable internet company, it still amazes me how many people out there have trouble with viruses and spyware. I know Jeff Noble is probably reading this saying Macs don’t get viruses or spyware. Okay, I agree with you there, and when they start letting you install it on your own a super crazy machine that you built for $300, I’ll have a Mac. Linux operating systems (Xandros, and Linspire are two great versions of Linux) are a great secure alternative, but there are still many things you can’t run on a Linux box.
So if you’re a Windows user, you need to read on… I have some tips for you that will save you a world of hurt!
1) Get a good anti-virus program. You can buy one at the store and pay an annual subscription for it, or you can do like I do: get AVG Free Edition. IT’S a FREE ANTIVIRUS program. It works great.
2) Install a router between your computer and cable or dsl modem. It uses a technology called “network address translation” also know as “NAT”. When you plug your computer direct into a Cable or DSL modem, your computer gets a number from your Internet Service Provider (ISP) called an Internet Protocol (IP) address. Every computer on every network big and small has an IP address. It identifies your computer on the network. The IP address your ISP assigns to your computer is called a public IP address. This means that any computer can “see” your computer and possibly hack into its resources. This is the biggest cause for virus/worm infection on a broadband connection. Computers get infected and infect other computers, or the virus turns the computer into a mail zombie and sends spam all over the world. How do you stop this from happening? This where NAT works its magic. Simply put, the router gets the public IP address, then it serves as a gateway to your computer. Your computer gets a PRIVATE IP address that only those computers behind your router can connect to. The only data that gets to the computer from the Internet is the data that it “requests”. The router “routes” the data from the internet to the computer that requested the data. If the data is from a virus-infected computer somewhere else, the router simply drops it.
3) Get the software updates from Microsoft. I know, they should have written the program right in the first place, but Windows is getting the short end of the stick on this subject. Think about how many more copies of Windows software (legal and illegal – ahem!) are out there than Mac or Linux. What makes the biggest target for a hacker/virus code designer? Of course it’s Windows. If there were more Macs or more Linux systems than Windows, they would be the target, and would be the OS that Windows users would be snubbing their noses at saying my brand of compuer doesn’t get viruses. So as the Microsoft developers update their software to provide the best security for your copy of Windows – download them and install them immediately! If your copy of Windows XP is not a legal copy (you know who you are), you can still get updates through the automatic update service already on your machine. If it is legal, you can do automatic updating OR you can go to Windows Updateany time to check for updates.
4) This is a biggie: stay off of porn sites, hacker sites, and free software sites that offer software that you should be paying for. And by all means stay off of file sharing programs (examples: Kazaa, Bearshare, Ares, Gnutella) YOU WILL GET A VIRUS OR SPYWARE PROGRAM ON YOUR WINDOWS MACHINE if you go there. Here’s an example. I lost the serial number for some software we legitimately had here at the office. So I went online and google searched serial for x (x meaning the name of the software). I turned off Internet Explorer’s “show pictures” option in the advanced settings so I wouldn’t be accidently subject to nasty pictures, clicked on a link that seemed to have what I was looking for, and downloaded a “keygen” for the software. I ran the keygen and didn’t get a keygen. I got a nasty virus that destroyed about 100GB (yes that’s GIGABYTES) of video data. Not only did it destroy the data, but it made the 200GB drive that held the data unreadable AND unusable. It was a $105.00 mistake (what it cost to replace the drive) that could have only cost $50 by purchasing the software again legitimately.
5) Don’t use Internet Exploder – I mean Explorer. Use Mozilla Firefox. Firefox isn’t intergrated into the operating sytem, thus spyware cannot be loaded directly into your system by simply going to a web page. Internet Explorer is doing better at this since XP Service pack 2 and now the new IE7, but I still don’t fully trust it. Microsoft needs to find a way to seperate the browser from the operating system a little better. I’ll trust it when I can completely uninstall Internet Explorer from my system without crashing Windows. Maybe the new Windows Vista will have this remedied. Watch these videos, they sum up the difference between IE and Firefox:
If this all sounds like too much trouble, and you have the cash to shell out for a Mac, by all means – check out Jeff Noble. Here’s a link to his blog. It’s my understanding he sells new and pre-owned systems(I’m not kidding – you actually can buy CERTIFIED PRE-OWNED MACS).
If you have computer tips you’d like to share, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.