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Computer Security: Protecting your PC

Protecting your computer from the "nasties" that come from e-mail, internet browsing, and file downloading is essential to the health of your computer (and network). Spyware, software that downloads and installs on your computer without the user's knowledge, and viruses have become an epidemic. Left unchecked, spyware and viruses can multiple on your computer until it no longer operates. We can no longer browse the internet without protection from these two epidemics. Fortunately, you can protect your computer from Spyware, Viruses, and unauthorized intrusion by implementing a 4-step process which will protect your computer and ensure safe and efficient operation.

1. Install a Firewall.
A Firewall protects computers and computer networks from unauthorized and/or malicious access from the internet. A Firewall may be a hardware device, software, or a combination of the two. Data coming into the computer from the internet must first pass through the Firewall which examines each message and blocks those that do not meet specified security criteria. A Firewall is considered the first line of defense in protecting private information stored on a computer.

2. Install an Anti-Spyware Program.
"Spyware" is a term used for software that covertly gathers user information through the users's Internet connection without his or her knowledge, usually for advertising purposes. Spyware applications are typically bundled as a hidden component in free programs (called "Freeware") and shareware programs downloaded from the Internet. Once installed, the Spyware monitors user activity on the Internet and transmits that information in the background to someone else. Spyware can also gather information about e-mail addresses and even passwords and credit card numbers. Spyware's recent spread has been breathtaking. Network monitoring firm Websense found Spyware on 92 percent of PCs in an April study, and an average of 28 Spyware programs running on each of the PCs found with Spyware!
Along with the actual gathering of unauthorized information, Spyware programs "sap" the computer's processing power and if left unchecked, multiple and ultimately cause the computer to crash. According to Microsoft, Spyware is to blame in over half the system crashes!
There are several very good Anti-Spyware programs on the market today. We recommend Adaware Plus or Spybot. Like Anti-Virus programs, Anti-Spyware programs MUST be constantly updated to remain effective. Installing an Anti-Spyware program is essential to protecting your computer.

3. Install an Anti-Virus Program.
A computer virus is a parasitic program written intentionally to enter a computer without the users permission or knowledge. The word parasite is used because a virus attaches to files or boot sectors and replicates itself, thus continuing to spread. Though some virus's do little but replicate others can cause serious damage or effect program and system performance. A virus should never be assumed harmless and left on a system. Anti-Virus programs monitor and detect viruses entering a computer via e-mail messages, instant messaging, and file downloads. Once a virus is detected, the anti-virus program will remove the virus by either placing the infected file in quarantine or deleting the file from the computer. There are several excellent Anti-Virus programs available from Symantec, McAfee, and Trend Micro, to name a few. We recommend installing Symantec (Norton) Anti-Virus 2006 as step number three to protecting your computer.

4. Regularly Update Microsoft Windows.
The fourth step to protecting your computer is to regularly update your version of Microsoft Windows.
Microsoft constantly releases security and performance updates for Windows.
Please visit Microsoft's Update Web Site for availability.

FREE Security Assessment
911 PC Rescue is offering a free, no obligation Security Assessment to all our customers. Please call us at 603-335-5955 or click to e-mail to schedule your free security assessment.

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