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Friday, March 13, 2009

Keep your Computer and Personal Info Safe

This article is intended to help you protect your system with some common sense knowledge and some pointers on slightly advanced tips.

Most likely, chances are you are booted into XP or Vista.
If you haven't already download SpyBot, AdAware and AVG or Avast anti-virus. These are all free.
Choose between AVG and Avast you won't need 2 anti-virus running unless you're really paranoid. Personally I prefer Avast.
Download Spybot (the first link above).
This computer will check for any harmful spyware, and tracking programs running silently in your computer. These not only track the websites you visit for directed marketing (which is unethical and should be illegal) but also slow down your computer. They also present security threats to your privacy.
There is a bit of a learning curve as SpyBot can modify your registry but it's well worth it!
The second link is AdAware. This used to be free but they are apparently charging now. To save you some time I've linked to a mirror that allows you to download the latest version free. I'm not sure if it is a trial or not - there isn't a big learning curve.
This helps remove any adware programs that SpyBot might have missed.
Download a free anti-virus, the second to last two links in step 1. Either of these are good but I encourage you to read the documents on them to see which better suits your needs.
Get a decent firewall, the last link in step 1 is for ZoneAlarm. This is a decent firewall and will get the job done in the free version.
Also a bit of a learning curve but again worth it.
If you are up to building your own firewall then read on.
If you have a spare computer lying around and you don't know what to do with it try turning it into a firewall with IpCop.
There is a massive learning curve for the beginner here! This will be a difficult setup but you will learn a lot! You will also have an awesome firewall and something to put on your resume.
If you have a network in your house you can try attacking it.
This is a great way to test how well your system is holding up.
For this you will need to have
hard drive running on one of your computers.
If you don't want to install Linux on your
hard drive you can run it live from a cd.
There are many different versions of Linux - all are free because they are protected under the GNU public license.
I believe the most user-friendly version of Linux right now would be Ubuntu.
Reading on how to defend your computer will help keep you current with trends in the community. Magazines like the hacker quarterly and phrack will help with this.
Download Firefox 3.0 if you aren't running it already. This is a safer browser than Internet Explorer 6/7 and it's free! It also has a lot of addons like piclens and forecastfox.
Don't save your passwords to your computer.
This is the easiest way to hacked - even if you are not online!
All it takes is someone with a little know how to sit at your computer for a minute or less and that's it - a good amount of your accounts will be stolen!
Write down your passwords and put them somewhere safe. Some people advocate keeping them on a file in your computer and encrypted.

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