Keep normal computer functionality while combating malware
Keep Windows Updated!
- Go to Start > Windows Update or go to Microsoft Update, and install ALL critical security updates listed.
- Always keep current with the latest Microsoft security updates by applying Service Packs and all critical updates issued on the second Tuesday of each month. Also known as Patch Tuesday.
- These can patch many of the security holes through which attackers can infect your computer.
- Do not turn off Automatic Updates!
- Go to Start > Control Panel > Automatic Updates to ensure they are on.
Tighten Internet Explorer’s Security Setting
- Since Internet Explorer is the leading browser it will always be the lead in attacks from the bad guys.
- Make your Internet Explorer more secure
- From within Internet Explorer click the Tools menu and then on Internet Options.
- Click once on the Security tab
- Click once on the Internet icon so it becomes highlighted.
- Click once on the Custom Level button.
- Change the Download signed ActiveX controls to Prompt
- Change the Download unsigned ActiveX controls to Disable
- Change the Initialize and script ActiveX controls not marked as safe to Disable
- Change the Installation of desktop items to Prompt
- Change the Launching programs and files in an IFRAME to Prompt
- Change the Navigate sub-frames across different domains to Prompt
- When all these settings have been made, click on the OK button.
- If it prompts you as to whether or not you want to save the settings, press the Yes button.
- Next press the Apply button and then the OK to exit the Internet Properties page.
- Make your Internet Explorer more secure
- Control Internet Explorer Add-ons with Add-on Manager
Tighten Internet Explorer’s Security Setting (continued)
- Start up IE then go to Tools > Internet Options > Security
- Set the Security level for the Internet Zone to High. (If no slider is visible, click Default Level.)
- Click the Trusted Sites icon.
- Set the Security level for the this Zone to Medium. (If no slider is visible, click Default Level.)
- Click OK.
- ZonedOut by Funkytoad is a complete Internet Explorer Security Zone Manager.
- Improve the safety of your browsing and e-mail activities
Use a Personal Firewall
- It is critical that you use a firewall to protect your computer and your personal information from hackers.
- Use a third party firewall
- Comodo Firewall Pro – Note: For best protection, use the advanced mode, not the basic.
- Online Armor Free – Offers excellent leak protection. See: Matousec.com
- Sunbelt Personal Firewall – Full version 30 day free trial, then it reverts to the free version features or pay to keep all features. See free/full comparison table on their web page.
- Personal Firewalls Reviews
- Why would I consider a third party firewall?
- How to turn on or turn off Windows built in firewall
- What’s Your Firewall Asking You?
Use anti virus software
- Always make sure your antivirus is up to date!
- Set the updates to automatic. Or get in the habit of manually checking for updates weekly.
- Below are some reliable free and paid antivirus.
- Free for home use
Online Virus Scans
- BitDefender Online Scanner – Internet Explorer only
- ESET Nod32 Online Scanner – Internet Explorer only
- F-Secure Online Scanner - Internet Explorer only
- Trend Micro HouseCall – Internet Explorer or Firefox
- Ad-Aware – Free
- Ad-Aware Plus – Paid
- Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware – Free and paid versions.
- Spybot Search & Destroy – Free
- Don’t forget to use Spybot’s Immunize Function.
- Spyware Terminator – Free with lots of extra features.
- Spyware Terminator can be downloaded with or without Web Security Guard
- Sunbelt’s CounterSpy – 15 day trial
- SUPERAntiSpyware – Free and paid versions
- Webroot’s SpySweeper – Paid
- Antispyware test:
- Spycar – A suite of tools designed to simulate spyware-like behavior.
Realtime Malware Blockers
Both of these can be used along with real time spyware protection, but only use one
- Comodo BOClean Anti-Malware – Stops identity thieves from getting personal information. Instantly detects well over 1,000,000 unique, variant and repack malware in total. And it’s free.
- Guide: Installing your BOClean
- SpywareBlaster – SpywareBlaster sets killbits in the registry to prevent known malicious activex controls from installing themselves on your computer.
- a-squared Anti-Dialer provides some real time protection against premium rate dialers.
Real time Infiltration Detection
- WinPatrol form BillP Studios – WinPatrol will alert you to hijackings, malware attacks and critical changes made to your computer without your permission.
System Restore and Backups
Do a complete virus scan before creating any backups
- System Restore is a component of Microsoft’s Windows Me, Windows XP and Windows Vista Operating Systems that allows for the rolling back of system files, registry keys, installed programs, etc., to a previous state in the event of a failure.
- Backup refers to making copies of data so that these additional copies may be used to restore the original after a data loss event.
Backups can be a invaluable resource
- ERUNT & NTREGOPT A useful freeware utility for users of Windows 2000/XP.
- It’s made up of two parts, ERUNT & NTREGOPT.
- ERUNT will create daily complete backups of your computer’s Registry. Whilst System Restore does the same thing, a corrupt registry file may prevent Windows from booting & this effectively disables System Restore. With ERUNT, you’re able to restore the damaged Registry.
- NTREGOPT works by recreating each registry hive “from scratch”, thus removing any slack space that may be left from previously modified or deleted keys. In other words, it compacts the Registry to a small size which allows Windows to load & perform faster.
- Karen’s Port Replicator is a fantastic freeware backup program that’s easy to use, and it allows scheduled backups.
- Acronis True Image is a very attractive and reasonably priced hard drive imaging program, that can save you in the event your hard drive fails unexpectedly. Acronis supports Microsoft Windows Vista and offers a 15 day trial version.
Alternate Web Browsers
More secure and customizable
- Alternative browsers like Mozilla Firefox are somewhat more secure because they are have fewer security holes. This is because fewer malware writers target the non Microsoft browsers.
- Opera is a full-featured Internet power tool with many useful tools and features.
- Avant Browser is a fast, stable, user-friendly, versatile web browser with many features.
- Internet Explorer 8 is Microsoft’s most secure and customizable browser to date.
- Test your browser:
You must remember that no browser will offer complete protection. If you access questionable sites, download illegal, pirated or keygens/cracked software or visit porn type websites then no browser will be secure enough!
It’s extremely important to keep your software up to date
- Secuna Software Inspector
- Detects insecure versions of applications installed
- Verifies that all Microsoft patches are applied
- Assists you in updating your system and applications
- Runs through your browser. No installation or download is required.
- The Secunia Software Inspector covers
- Internet browsers
- Internet browser plugins
- Instant messaging clients
- Email clients
- Media players
- Operating systems
- FileHippo.com Update Checker
- The Update Checker will scan your computer for installed software, check the versions and then send this information to FileHippo.com to see if there are any newer releases. These are then neatly displayed in your browser for you to download.
- Install the latest version of the Java Runtime Environment
- Uninstall any old versions of Sun Java in Add or Remove Programs. (Vista Programs And Features)
- Download JavaRa and unzip the file to your Desktop.
- Open JavaRA.exe and choose Remove Older Versions
- Once complete exit JavaRA and delete the program.
- The Microsoft Java Virtual Machine, or MS Java VM, should be removed due to it no longer being supported by Microsoft. It has become obsolete which leaves it open to exploit by malware.
Download CCleaner – It is suggested to download the CCleaner – Slim – No Toolbar which is the version without the Yahoo! Toolbar.
- Double click on the ccsetup.exe file to start the installation of the program.
- Select your language and click OK, then Next.
- Read the license agreement and click I Agree.
- Click Next to use the default install location.
- Under Install Options, choose all the default settings
- Click Install then Finish to complete installation.
- Double click the CCleaner shortcut on the desktop to start the program.
- On the Windows tab, under Internet Explorer, uncheck Cookies if you do not want them deleted. (If deleted, you will likely need to reenter your passwords at all sites where a cookie is used to recognize you when you visit).
- If you use either the Firefox, Opera or Chrome browsers, the box to uncheck for Cookies is under the Applications tab.
- Click on the Options icon at the left side of the window, then click on Advanced.
Uncheck Only delete files in Windows Temp folders older than 48 hours.
- Click on the Options icon at the left side of the window, then click on Advanced.
- Click on the Cleaner icon on the left side of the window, then click Run Cleaner to run the program.
- Caution: It is recommended that you use the Registry cleaning feature with care.
- Always back up the Registry before removing anything with the Registry cleaner.
- Exit CCleaner.
Watch What You Download!
Malware can be hidden in illicit software or other files and programs you might download from the Internet.
Many “freeware” programs come with an enormous amount of bundled spyware that will slow down your system, include pop-up advertisements, steal your personal information or just plain crash your browser and even the Operating System itself.
- P2P programs come with an enormous amount of bundled malware. There are also multiple sites that offer rouge antimalware products.
- Malware Removals – Clean/Infected P2P Programs
- Please note that we DO NOT endorse the use of ANY P2P program.
- The P2P program may be clean, this does NOT mean what you download with it is!
- Javacools EULAlyzer can analyze End User License Agreements in seconds. Discover if the software you’re about to install displays pop-up ads, transmits personally identifiable information, uses unique identifiers to track you, and much much more.
- How to download files safely
- How to Download Software Safely
- Get Safe Online: Be careful with peer-to-peer file sharing
- Safety tips for handling email attachments and content downloaded from the Internet
- Dr. Web Link Scan – Scan a link or file before you download it by copy and then paste the download or url link into the white box then click Scan
- LinkScanner Lite – Integrates with major search engines to check search results for a variety of online threats before you click.
- WOT – Web of Trust – WOT is a free Internet security addon for your browser. It will keep you safe from online scams, identity theft, spyware, spam, viruses and unreliable shopping sites. WOT warns you before you interact with a risky website. It’s easy and it’s free. WOT works with Internet Explorer and Firefox.
- vURL Online – This service is completely free and allows you to view the source code within a webpage without your having to visit the site itself.
Generally harmless, cookies are pieces of information generated by a Web server and stored on the user’s computer
- Cookie Viewer – This Power Tool automatically scans your computer, looking for “cookies”. It can then display the data stored in each one and can delete them.
- Cookie Cruncher – Protects your hard drive from unwanted cookies.
- Cookie Culler – Extended Cookie Manager. Protect/unprotect selected cookies. (Firefox only)
- Add N Edit Cookies – Gives you the ability to easily alter, edit or delete cookies. (Firefox only)
Scan your security event log
- GFI Event Log Scanner
- Use EventLogScan to check that your system is truly secure!
Videos & quizzes
- Are you a Security Wizard?
- BBC NEWS How well do you know PC security?
- Trend Micro Malware Tutorial Video
- Know-It-All’s Security Quiz
- McAfee Site Advisor Spyware Quiz
- Microsoft Security Quiz: Test Your Knowledge
- OnGuard Online – Wireless Security Quiz
- What is a computer virus?
- Spyware and your kids
- Stay Safe Online. National Cyber Security Alliance. Cyber Security Basics.
- Symantec: CYBER SMACKDOWN!!!