Personal Technology Information


Are You Well Protected?


Winter?the official start of the cold and flu season. Though, technically speaking, things got started a little early. Close to a million computers, mostly home PC users, have been infected.

For many of us our computers are our business. We keep in contact with customers and clients via email, do extensive internet research, and transmit important files electronically.

We know what to do to protect our bodies from viruses. There are some simple strategies, and even free precautions we can take to protect our businesses by keeping our PCs virus free.

Adopting the following six checkpoints will help keep your computer healthy and your business uninterrupted.

Use a Firewall

At its most basic level a firewall is a software security system that acts as a barrier between your computer and the outside world (the internet) by monitoring all incoming network traffic. A more advanced firewall will also monitor outgoing traffic. How you use your computer will determine whether basic or advanced firewall protection is needed.

What a firewall does is make your computer invisible while on the Internet. If hackers can't see you, they cannot attack you.

Windows XP has this software installed; however, it may need to be enabled. If you have XP and would like to enable the firewall, directions are on the Microsoft website.

For non XP users, firewall software can be purchased. McAfee and Zone Alarm are two very popular products. Zone Alarm has a free downloadable firewall, basic version, available on their website, www.zonealarm.com.

Before installing a firewall, you may be interested in learning your computer's vulnerability. This is something that can be checked for free and in just a few minutes. Visit the website of Gibson Research Corporation, www.grc.com, and under Hot Spots, click on Shields UP. It takes a little bit of scrolling to get to but is well worth the extra seconds. In minutes your PC is scanned and its vulnerability rated.

Antivirus Software

Antivirus software is the "shot" after the epidemic. This software protects your computer from known threats. Many PCs come with antivirus software already installed. Some of the more popular versions are Norton, PCCillin and McAfee.

If you have it pre installed or have purchased it, great. Please be sure to keep it constantly updated with the latest virus definitions. This is important because these definitions are formed in response to the latest viruses. If you don't have this protection, please consider getting it.

Once this software is installed on your computer, you will be automatically notified when new virus definitions are available. Then it is just a matter of a few clicks to download the new definitions.

Likewise you will be notified when your antivirus software is about to expire. The software needs to be updated annually. The initial purchase, renewal, updates and installation can all be done online.

Spyware Eliminator

Why am I getting all of these pop ups? Certain websites that you visit or free software (shareware) that you download, and, in some cases, hardware purchased from major manufacturers will also install tracking devices on your computer (spyware). Spyware is annoying but not illegal.

An internet search will reveal the many choices available for spyware elimination software. The important thing is to get one and use it consistently. Spybot and PestPatrol are popular choices.

I really like Spybot Search and Destroy. Besides the fact that it is free, once spyware is identified, the software will provide a detailed description of just what it is. This is helpful just in case it identifies something that you don't want to get rid of.

Backup, Backup, Backup

How often do you backup? What files/programs do you backup? What media do you backup to?

We all know the importance of backing up our information yet so many of us don't do it. There may be a ton of reasons why it's not done but the one reason it should be done on a regular basis is that it can be a timesaver, possibly a business saver if your computer system is corrupted for any reason.

If you happen to be using Windows XP Professional, the backup procedure is quite simple. For users of XP Home Edition, it is a bit more involved. Complete instructions, however, are on the Microsoft website.

Typically, data files are what most people need to back up and having well organized files will certainly simplify the process.

Whether you backup to disk, zip disk, DVD, writeable CDs, external file drive or utilize one of the online services, it is important to get into the habit of backing up on a regular basis.

Weekly Updates of Windows

Windows users are automatically notified of current updates for the Windows operating system when your computer is turned on. With just a few clicks your operating system is updated.

However, when certain patches become available for your particular applications software (XP, 2000, NT, etc), as was/is the case with the recent worm viruses, a visit to Microsoft's website is necessary.

Once there, Microsoft will scan your computer, tell you what updates are available, and you then have the option of installing them on your system. In some cases, you will need your installation CDs to complete the download.

With the recent run of viruses and with more expected, it is imperative to check for these updates weekly on the Microsoft website as well as do the automatic updates.

Be Careful of Email Attachments

Email is such a widely accepted method of communication, and this has not gone unnoticed by hackers who use email as a means of mass virus spread.

For this final checkpoint, your due diligence is the only software required.

Always delete any email from unknown senders and be very careful of any attachments you are not expecting from any known senders. As we have seen, hackers can quite easily access Outlook address books to spread viruses.

By the way, including a fake email address in your address book will not prevent your PC from spreading viruses. This is an urban legend. If you're interested in the full story, check out this link:

www.snopes.com/computer/virus/quickfix.htm

When it comes to the health of our computers, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Effective prevention software along with plain old common sense, used consistently, can keep you protected.

About The Author

Roxie Hickman, Virtual Assistant (VA), is the owner of The Virtual Connection. The Virtual Connection (www.thevirtualconnection.net) specializes in working with the 'sucstressed' (successful professionals who are stressed because they've been doing it alone). The Virtual Connection provides offsite executive, administrative, and personal assistance (virtual assistance).

roxie@thevirtualconnection.net


MORE RESOURCES:
This RSS feed URL is deprecated, please update. New URLs can be found in the footers at https://news.google.com/news


88.9 KETR

Businesses Need To 'Mind The Gap' Between Office Tech And Personal Tech
88.9 KETR
Our personal technology commentator, Jeremy Gamez, comments on a recent article emphasizing that businesses wanting to attract the brightest young employees need to be sure that their office technology is as good as Millennials' personal technology.



New York Times

The Benefits (and Limits) of Using Tech to Plan a Wedding
New York Times
This may sound unromantic, but before the internet era, wedding planning was a lot like car shopping. To find a place to get married, you had to read print ads with limited information designed to lure you in for a visit and pressure you into, well ...



New York Times

When a Tech Reporter Doesn't Use Much Tech
New York Times
How do New York Times journalists use technology in their jobs and in their personal lives? David Streitfeld, a technology reporter in San Francisco, discussed the tech he's using — and not using. For a tech journalist, you don't use a lot of tech ...



New York Times

How to Yank Passwords Out of Firefox Quantum
New York Times
Q. What is the best way to export passwords from Mozilla Firefox now that Password Exporter no longer works in the new Quantum version? A. The Password Exporter add-on for Firefox allowed people to save passwords stored within the browser as XML or ...



Newser

Best Buy Defied Doomsayers. Now, a New Strategy
Newser
A Best Buy store sign is illuminated, in Orange, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, File). camera-icon View 1 more image. (Newser) – Big-box retailer Circuit City went belly up in 2009 thanks largely to the encroach of Amazon. The widespread expectation ...



New York Times

I Used Apple's New Controls to Limit a Teenager's iPhone Time (and It Worked!)
New York Times
Even as people have embraced the smartphone as one of the most powerful tech products, they are keeping a wary eye on the addictiveness of turning on the device to check for social media updates, read websites and play games. Some studies have tied ...

and more »


New York Times

How to Go Back to the Old Gmail
New York Times
Q. I tried to get used to the new Gmail web design, but I just don't like it. Can I go back to the old one? A. For the time being, Google is keeping around the previous version of Gmail on the web, and you can revert to the old look from the inbox ...



New York Times

How the 52 Places Traveler Stays Charged While Chronicling the World
New York Times
Sections. SEARCH. Skip to contentSkip to site index. Personal Tech · Subscribe · Log In · SubscribeLog In. Advertisement. Supported by. Tech We're Using. How the 52 Places Traveler Stays Charged While Chronicling the World. Image. Jada Yuan, The New ...



New York Times

For Android Users, Europe's Google Ruling Leaves Unanswered Questions
New York Times
You may have heard that the European Union punished Google with a record $5.1 billion fine on Wednesday for abusing its power in the mobile phone market. Specifically, the authorities dinged Google on its practices with Android, the mobile operating ...
Google quietly working on a replacement for Android, called Fuchsia, that's causing some fierce internal squabblingFinancial Post
Android has created more choice, not less - Google BlogGoogle Blog
Antitrust: Commission fines Google €4.34 billion for illegal practices regarding Android mobile devices to ...EU News
Bloomberg
all 556 news articles »


New York Times

Emergency Charging Options on the Road
New York Times
Q. Is it true that you can charge your phone from the USB port on a television set? Why do TV's even have USB ports? A. Many television models have included USB jacks for years, particularly the flat-panel type with plenty of multimedia ports on the ...

and more »

Google News

home | site map
© 2007