Protect Your Computer

Blogs

From time to time I will be adding items to these pages giving details of how to achieve certain objectives, usually related to genealogy and the use of Legacy software, often in conjunction with other software.

I am not suggesting that the solutions offered are the only, or indeed the best, options to solving problems but simply that they are ways which I have found to work.

* 'V' indicates a video is available

  1. Using Legacy Search V
  2. Search Events, Locations and Married Names V
  3. Create an Ancestry Book
  4. Map with Google Earth
  5. History of British Prime Ministers - Timeline
  6. British Civil Registration
  7. The Murder of Adam Mather
  8. Improve Photo Colour Balance
  9. Transparency with The Gimp
  10. Masking with The Gimp
  11. Web Safe Colours
  12. Create Legacy Web Pages - Part 1
  13. Create Legacy Web Pages - Part 2
  14. Create Legacy Web Pages - Part 3
  15. Using LTools Tidy Legacy HTML
  16. Insert Pictures into Web Pages
  17. Insert RSS Feed into Web Pages
  18. Getting Online
  19. Protect Your PC
  20. Open Legacy files with Open Office V
  21. FamGenContacts Database
  22. Create Direct Line Ancestor Tree
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The icons below are links to any other software mentioned.

  • Legacy
  • PSPad
  • Open Office
  • The Gimp
  • Xara 3D
  • maplin Link

Protect your PC

  • Virus The most commonly known form of malware is a virus. Details are given of preventing them getting onto your PC and ways to protect against these attacks.
  • Spying Lesser known is spyware where code is introduced which monitors your surfing activities. In the worst cases they record your keystrokes and passwords, and so enable access to bank accounts etc..
  • Spam In general spam is only a nuisance, major or otherwise, but it can be controlled using anti-spam software. Details of some free programs are given.
  • Click to Repeat

Take Control of your PC - Now!

Reading a number of Newsgroups it seems to me that many PC users, particularly newcomers, are unaware of the risks to their confidentiality and PCs which are presented by the use of the Internet. Hopefully the simple, and cheap, solutions to common problems given here will help to avoid problems in the future.

General Precautions

Initially it should be stated that "risky sites" eg. those containing pornographic material are best avoided. Preferably only safe sites should be visited, in general, these are sites which have been recommended by people who know their way around, major institutions and stores. Do not reply to pop-ups (even the cancellation instructions) and cancel using the cross, usually at the top right. Note: there are many pop-up blockers around, such as Google and Yahoo which are very effective.

Emails from unknown senders should be deleted and unexpected attachments, particularly from such sources, should not be opened. Be careful also with emails allegedly from financial sources and note that banks etc. *never* ask for passwords and PINs. If in doubt then contact the financial institution direct.

In connection with Phishing, one should ensure that the Phishing Filter in IE. is switched on: Tools>Phishing Filter>Phishing Filter Settings. Near the bottom of the list ensure that "Turn on automatic website checking" is selected.

Remember that Newsgroups are public sites and hence your email address will be published, so do not use an important email address for this purpose.

Firewalls

A firewall is a piece of software which is designed to prevent, or at least minimise, the risk of becoming infected when visiting the Internet. Perhaps, if a Linux operating system is being used, a firewall is not essential but for all Windows systems it definitely is.

Windows XP now has its Firewall set by default and unless an alternative is used it is esssential that the setting remains unchanged.

There is much debate as to whether the Windows Firewall is sufficient on its own. A free alternative is Zone Alarm which is highly regarded. One of the obvious differences is that whilst Windows only inhibits a virus from getting in, Zone Alarm also stops one from getting out as well.

It is recognised that having more than one firewall running can cause a confliction so if, say, Zone Alarm, is used then Windows Firewall should be closed (Control Panel>Security Centre).

Anti-Virus Software

Whilst it would be naive to think that firewalls are perfect there are also other ways a virus can enter one's system, the most common being via emails. In addition to a firewall, anti-virus software is also essential.

There are a number of free programs available of which AVG and Avast are probably the best known. There are also a number of free Web Scans available of which McAfee is recommended.

Personally, I use AVG so my remarks are now directed at this product. The important point about any AV software is to update and run it on a regular basis. I have AVG set to auto-update daily and on most days there is an update - which goes to show the volume of new malware around! Because running the checker can take over an hour and it slows down my machine, I run it overnight: every night. AVG quarantines anything it finds and hence prevents any problems. Rarely, there are false positives but these have never given me a serious problem.

AVG checks all incoming emails and attachments for viruses and can also be used to check downloads, even those which are zipped.

Spyware & Adware

Basically these types of malware put code into one's PC which give details of which sites one visits, attract advertisements to the host PC and in the extreme can record one's personal details and passwords etc.

I have put these two together as essentially the method of removal is the same and there are two free programs which are widely recognised as being the most effective.

Spybot and Adaware are probably the most often used and many people (myself included) use both. Unlike firewalls and AVs this does not cause a problem. They use different methods to identify the rogue codes and can, therefore, identify different problems. These are then quarantined. Unlike the free Adaware version, Spybot enables browser immunisation to inhibit further contamination.

Spam

Eventually this is a problem which will hit us all and one for which I have tried several solutions.

As usual my search was for freebies; the offerings on search engines caused me problems as I found that most seemed to put spyware and/or ads on my system.

Eventually I found Mailwasher. This is different to most as it reads the email headers and enables the user to select whether to preview and delete or bounce from one's server before they are downloaded. Having made the selection it will then open the email reader for downloading.

It can store details of one's mailing list and also the blacklist: these can be added to as needed.

The free version does not work on web based emailers eg. Hotmail, Yahoo etc..

Further Details

These can be obtained from my Links Page

Corrections, comments and suggestions are welcome, so please use the contact facility below.


The above information is given without warranty either expressed or implied

The content last updated 31 March 2010