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
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
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 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 AVG, Kaspersky, Norton, PCCillin and
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.