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TECH TIPS – How to fight Malware in 2005

Viruses, worms, and Trojan Horses, Oh My!  There’s lots of stuff out there trying to wreak havoc on your computer.  There’s adware, spyware, hijackers, toolbars, and dialers.  According to researchers, as many as 80% of all computers have some form of malware (malicious software) on them.

Here’s some brief definitions:

Virus:  a program replicates (copies) itself to other programs it comes in contact with on a hard drive.  A virus can do damage to a computer system or to data files on the computer.

Worm:  a program, similar to a virus, but can also copy itself to others via email.  You usually get a worm by clicking on an infected email attachment or a link within the email itself.  Worms can damage system files and data files on a hard drive.

Trojan Horse:  technically, not a virus because it does not replicate itself, but rather is carried by another program that looks very innocent and in fact useful (a cool game, for example).  A Trojan Horse may erase your hard drive, steal your personal information, steal passwords, perform other tasks like launch a denial of service attack, and more.

Adware:  places advertisements on your screen – just when you don’t want them.

Spyware:  sends information about you by searching your hard drive to other people who don’t have you best self-interests at heart.

Hijackers:  takes control of your web browser – takes you to websites you don’t want to go to.

Toolbars:  they are installed into the Internet Explorer browser and are useful add-ons – if they are legitimate.  There are many malware toolbars.  But Google and Yahoo have toolbars that are actually excellent (I recommend the Google toolbar).

Dialers:  these programs set up your dial-up modem to dial 1-900 numbers and leave you with a whopping telephone bill.  Beware – these dialers do their dirty work without even being detected.

OK – so what’s a person to do?  Here are 5 FREE programs that you can use to clean your computer and keep it clean from all types of malware.  You should download all of these programs and use them regularly.

The first 3 of these programs, Spywareblaster, Spybot Search and Destroy, and Ad-Aware all do basically the same thing.  But each one may find things the others do not find – so use them all!

Spywareblaster: http://www.javacoolsoftware.com/spywareblaster.html

Spybot S&D: http://www.safer-networking.org/en/download/index.html

Ad-Aware Personal Edition: http://www.lavasoftusa.com/software/adaware/

The next program, Microsoft Windows AntiSpyware is the newest product out to combat malware.  This is beta software, which means it is in the testing phase.  But I have read many articles that say it is worth getting now and using now. 
http://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/spyware/software/default.mspx

Anti Virus software
AVG is a great anti-virus software program.  It doesn’t have all the features of other commercial programs, like automatic updates, but it does a good job scanning your computer for viruses. http://www.grisoft.com/us/us_index.php
(One of the best pay-for antivirus programs is Norton Antivirus).

Get the software.  Use it regularly, and you will stay clear of viruses and malware  in 2005.

Here’s a very comprehensive article on malware (malicious software).
http://arstechnica.com/articles/paedia/malware.ars

 

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