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with all that technology and new softwares and websties these days, the chances of us being in danger by various critical online threats is very much increased. I just thought i'd share some important information which would actually help you reduce those chances to almost 95%. Viruses, spyware, hackers, data loss, or theft-these are just some of those dangers your computer faces these days.Protect your hardware and important files by carefully following these few essential tasks on your computer just for your own safety =) oh and btw i couldnt find the right topic for my post so i decided to put it in windows xp's topic because it is meant for XP users basically! and is definetly related to it in every way!
a) Manually Update Windows XP
To protect your computer from sinister digital threats like viruses, worms, spyware, and hackers, you must keep Windows updated with the most recent security patches and service packs. If you have not enabled the automatic-update feature of Windows XP, then you will have to download the patches manually. Follow these steps:
1. Open Internet Explorer. 2. In the address box, type: http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com 3. Once the Windows Update website is opened, you might be asked to install a small program that will help the site "talk" to your computer. Depending on your version of Windows, click the Yes button or click the Install button. When this process is finished, the main page of the Windows Update site appears. 4. Depending on your version of Windows, click the Express button or Express install button. 5. The Windows Update website scans your computer to determine which security patches are missing. When the scan is finished, follow the on-screen instructions to download and automatically install the updates. It is recommended that you begin by downloading the service packs, which are critical collections of various patches and fixes. 6. Once the updates are installed, it is likely that you are asked to restart your computer. 7. After your computer reboots, return to the Windows Update website as many times as necessary until all possible security patches and service packs are downloaded and installed. 8. Turn on Windows XP's Automatic Updates feature as explained in the following fix to ensure that you never miss another critical update.
Not all security patches, updates, or service packs can be downloaded at the same time. You may need to return to the Windows Update website several times to retrieve all of them.To guarantee that your computer is always updated with the most recent Windows security patches, updates, and service packs, turn on automatic updates.
b) Disable Unsafe Services
Windows XP has several Internet features that most home users or home-based businesses will never use.To give your computer an extra measure of protection from digital threats, you can disable some unneeded-and potentially unsafe-services. Follow these steps:
1. Click the Start button in the lower-left corner of Windows. 2. Click the Control Panel. 3. If the Control Panel is in category view, click the Performance and Maintenance category, and then click the administrative Tools icon. If the Control Panel is in classic view, simply double-click the Administrative Tools icon. 4. Double-click the Services icon. 5. A window opens. Using the scroll bar, scroll down until you see "Messenger", then double click it. 6. Another window opens. Click the Startup Type drop-down menu,then select Disabled. 7. Click the Apply button. 8. Click the OK button. 9. Return to the Services window, and then repeat the previous steps to disable the following services:
1. IIS Admin (This service is only available in the Professional Edition of Windows XP) 2. NetMeeting Remote Desktop Sharing 3. Remote Desktop Help Session Manager 4. Remote Registry (This service is only available in the Professional Edition of Windows XP) 5. Telnet (This service is only available in the Professional Edition of Windows XP)
c) Protect Your Computer from Viruses
To prevent infection from digital viruses, create some good habits by following all of these tips:
Do not open e-mail attachments that have a file extension of .exe,.scr, .vbs, or double file extensions like .txt.vbs. Beaware of opening any e-mail attachments or instant-message attachments sent from people you don't know-even if those attachments
do not have a dangerous file extension. Do not open spam e-mail (selling products, offering free videos,pictures, or songs, and so on). Perform a virus scan on files before downloading or opening them. Perform a virus scan on e-mail attachments you think are safe to open. Do not install pirated software, because often it contains viruses. Do not download pirated music files or videos, because they too contain viruses. Do not click links sent to you in an instant message.
Please read my review on NOD32 anti virus which i have posted earlier on CIAO. It surely is the best anti-virus out there at this moment.
Block Worms from Invading Your Computer
Follow these tips to stop Internet worms from sneaking into your computer and causing chaos:
Most antivirus programs also scan for worms, so install a trusted, respected brand of antivirus software like NOD32 and keep it updated constantly. Download the most recent Windows patches, updates, and service packs. Turn on the Automatic Update feature of Windows to ensure that it automatically downloads and installs the latest Windows security fixes as soon as they are available. Beaware of opening e-mail attachments sent from people to you. Do not install pirated software. Install the most recent security updates and service packs for all Microsoft Office software (Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint,Publisher, and so on).
Prevent Spyware Infections
Spyware is a general term describing sinister programs that sneak into your computer by tricking you into installing them or by hiding in other programs you install. The dangers of spyware are that it can do the following:
Install a "keystroke logging" program that allows a criminal to see everything you type on your keyboard (including passwords and credit-card numbers) Hijack your Internet browser and change its default homepage and/or search engine; track your Internet-surfing habits Send your private information to hackers who can use it to commit identity theft, or to online marketers who will send you customized pop-up advertisements.
How Does Spyware Infect a Computer?
There are numerous ways that spyware can sneak into your computer, including the following:
Internet advertisements:When you click on a malicious pop-up ad, spyware can be downloaded to your computer. File-sharing software: It hides inside programs used for illegally sharing MP3 music files or pirated movies.When you install the software, the spyware is installed at the same time. Pirated software: Illegal copies of software purchased on the street or downloaded from the Internet often contain spyware. Shareware and freeware: It can lurk inside inexpensive or free software available on the Internet from non-reputable vendors or persons. Fake spyware-removal programs: Believe it or not, some antispyware programs actually install spyware.To stay safe from this scam, only install spyware-removal software that has a solid, respected reputation. E-mail attachments: Just like a virus, spyware can be installed on your computer when you open an infected e-mail attachment. Hackers: A hacker who has already found a way into your computer courtesy of a virus, worm, or Trojan horse, can install spyware on your system.
Currently no spyware-removal programs are perfect; all of them catch spyware that the others miss.Your best bet is to install two different programs and use them both to scan for and remove spyware. Antispyware programs fall into two categories:
Reactive and Proactive.
Reactive Antispyware Programs
These programs can remove spyware that already lurks on your computer, but they have little or no capabilities for preventing future infections. Often these programs can be downloaded for free, but give you the option of adding shields by paying a fee or by upgrading to a Pro version. Example softwares that you can use can be downloaded from:
1. Ad-Aware Free Version (http://www.lavasoftusa.com) 2. Spybot Search and Destroy (http://www.safernetworking.
Proactive Antispyware Programs
Along with removing spyware, a proactive program can prevent most spyware from sneaking into your computer by placing virtual shields over it. These shields can halt spyware installations, protect your Internet browser's homepage from being hijacked, prevent new bookmarks/favorites from being added to your Internet browser without your permission, block third-party tracking cookies, and much more. These proactive programs must be purchased from an Internet e-merchant or from a brick-and-mortar retail store:
Phishing (pronounced "fishing") is a scam that tricks people into revealing their private, personal information (like credit-card numbers and passwords). Originally, phishing was an e-mail scam in which criminals sent a fake "urgent" message that appeared to be from a respected company or financial institution. The message asked its recipients to verify or update their account information by clicking a link in the e-mail and visiting a special website. When the victims followed the instructions, the information they entered on the fake website was captured by the criminals and used to commit identity theft. In recent years, this crime has produced several sinister spin-offs. Now, phishing is used more as a term to refer to data-mining scams in general.Here are some tips to avoid phishing:
Don't respond to e-mail asking for private information, Instead, be proactive and call the bank or company and ask them whether they are trying to get in touch with you. Most financial institutions have toll-free phone numbers you can call (usually the numbers are listed on the back of your credit cards). Don't click on links in strange or unexpected e-mail: This is especially true of those that appear to be from financial institutions. Read your e-mail offline (disconnected from the Internet): This will prevent hostile code from being downloaded to your computer if you accidentally click a phishing link in an e-mail. For dial-up users, this is easy: simply log-off your internet service. For users of always-on, high-speed cable/DSL connections, you will need to turn on the "lock" feature of your software firewall to halt all inbound and outbound Internet activity. Don't click links inside Instant Messages: This is true regardless of whether or not the link was sent to you from someone on your "buddy" list of contacts. Never send your personal or financial information in an e-mail or instant message: Like credit-card numbers, social security numbers, bank-account numbers, passwords, user names, and so on. A normal e-mail or instant message does not have encryption protection, which means it could be intercepted by a criminal who could use your private information to commit identity theft. If you need to give important information to someone, call him or her on the telephone but only use a landline, because cell-phone calls can also be intercepted. Beware of telephone phishing: Do not respond to voicemails from companies asking you to call a special phone number to clear up information about your account. This could be phone phishing. Instead, call their central phone number and find out whether or not they really need to speak with you. Also, be suspicious of companies who call you out of the blue and ask you to verify information like your account number, password, PIN number, mother's maiden name, social-security number, age, home address, and so on. Don't tell them anything. Instead, hang up and call their central phone number. Install an anti-phishing toolbar: A few companies offer free software toolbars that can be added to your Internet browser to protect you from accidentally visiting phishing websites. Here are a few:
Computer cookies are small text files that store information about the websites you have visited and the things you did on those sites. Cookies come in two flavors: trustworthy-which assist and support your Internet usage and tracking which are used by Internet marketers to show you customized advertisements.To control the cookies that are placed on your computer, do the following:
1. Open Internet Explorer. 2. Click the Tools drop-down menu. 3. Select Internet Options. 4. A window opens. Click the Privacy tab. 5. Click the Advanced button. 6. Put a checkmark in the Override Automatic Cookie Handling box. 7. Under the First-party Cookies heading, click the Block button. 8. Put a checkmark in the Always Allow Session Cookies box. This allows websites to place a cookie on your computer that expires the moment you exit the site (which means the cookie cannot be used to track you). 9. Under the Third-party Cookies heading, click the Block button. 10. Click the OK button. 11. Now you should be back at the Privacy screen. Click the Sites button. 12. A window opens. In the Address of Web Site box, type the address of trustworthy websites that need cookies to function properly (Web e-mail services such as Hotmail, financial institutions such as your bank or credit-card company, e-merchants such as Amazon.com and eBay, and so on), and then click the Allow button. 13. Type the address of any websites you do not want to receive cookies from (online advertisers like doubleclick.net, gambling sites, and so on), and then click the Block button. 14. If you change your mind about a website and want to remove it from this list, simply highlight its name, click the Remove button, and then click OK. 15. When you are finished adding or removing websites to the list, click the OK button.
f) Delete Tracking Cookies
To protect your privacy, you should delete the tracking cookies lurking on your computer. Because it can be difficult to identify which cookies are tracking and which are trustworthy, the easiest thing to do is simply to wipe the plate clean by erasing all of your cookies at once. Follow these steps:
1. Open Internet Explorer. 2. Click the Tools drop-down menu. 3. Select Internet Options. 4. A window opens. Under the General tab, look for Temporary Internet Files. Underneath this, click the Delete Cookies button. 5. A message pops up and asks, "Delete all cookies in the Temporary Internet Files folder?" 6. Click the OK button. 7. If other users have a Windows account on your computer, have each of them log on to their account and repeat these steps.
g) Delete Index Files
Even if you cover your Internet tracks by deleting tracking cookies, some information related to them can be left behind in special indexes that have the file extension .dat.To scrub these index files clean, do the following:
1. Delete all of the cookies on your computer by following the steps in the previous menu "Delete Tracking Cookies." 2. Shut down your computer and restart it. After doing so, immediately press the F8 key on your keyboard several times untill the Windows Advanced Options Menu screen appears. 3. Use the up or down arrow on your keyboard to select Safe Mode with Command Prompt, and then press the Enter key. 4. The next screen displays Please Select the Operating System to Start. Assuming you only have Windows XP installed on your system, press the Enter key. If you have more than one operating system installed,use the up or down arrow on your keyboard to select Windows XP,and then press the Enter key. 5. Windows loads some software, which could take a minute or two. Depending on how your version of Windows is configured, a login screen or the Welcome Screen appears. If you see the login screen, type your account name and password (if you have one), and then press the Enter key. If you see the Welcome Screen, click the icon for the account labeled Administrator or an account that has administrative privileges, and then enter your password (if you have one). 6. A command prompt appears.Type CD\ and then press the Enter key. 7. Type del index.dat/s and then press the Enter key. 8. Windows will delete all of your .dat files, which could take a minute or two. 9. You are returned to the command prompt.Type shutdown -r to force your computer to automatically shut down and restart.
h) Create Strong Passwords
To keep Internet intruders from breaking into your computer, you must create strong passwords that are nearly impossible to crack. Here are some guidelines:
If you have a simple one-word password like computer, a high-tech thief could crack it in mere minutes. If you make the password more robust by adding numbers-like computer33-it might take the thief an extra 10 minutes to crack it. If your password is even more complex-like comPut3r55@$-the thief would have to work around the clock for days on end before he could come close to cracking it. Your password should have a minimum of six digits, with at least three of the following: lowercase letters, uppercase letters, numbers, and special characters. The easiest way to create a strong password is to develop a pass-phrase, which is a sentence you can easily remember. Use the first letter of each word in the pass-phrase to create a password. For example, the pass-phrase "Honk if you like computer geeks" becomes the password hiylcg.To make it even stronger, use a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters that look like actual letters. For example, hiylcg can be changed into h1yLcen stronger protection. Also change your passwords every six months.
This much should be enough for bringing down the chances of you getting owned by any of those online threats by almost 95%. I hope this review would be helpful for someone out there!