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Thread: PROTECT YOURSELF FROM MALWARE: Tools & Tips

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    Lightbulb PROTECT YOURSELF FROM MALWARE: Tools & Tips

    The following are some tips to help avoid malware infestation. While nothing can guarantee 100% that you will not become infested, the suggestions below will go a long way toward safeguarding your computer from many of the evils lurking in the shadows of the Internet. I strongly suggest you heed them all!

    Basically what we will list here are for good, FREE, security programs. Most of these also offer paid versions which also rank fairly high.

    1 – Be sure to visit Windows Updates often (at least once a month). It is vitally important to keep your OS and IE Up-To-Date! This is the first line of defense. I cannot stress this enough – Be sure to get those Critical Updates!!

    The first thing to stress is this, each computer MUST have installed 1 anti-virus program and 1 firewall...I stress again 1 (ONE) of each NO more than one. Adding a second of either one only LESSENS your security because of the conflicts caused by having multiple instances and therefore reducing your protection.

    2 – Make sure you are running a Good Anti-Virus program! Again, the watchword is Update – Your AV is most effective if you have the latest virus definitions, so make sure it is scheduled to automatically update daily and scheduled to automatically scan weekly.

    Some good FREE alternatives are:
    • AntiVir® Personal Edition Classic Operating Systems: Windows 2000/03/08/XP/Vista/7
    • Avast! Home EditionOperating Systems: Windows 2000, Microsoft Windows XP/Vista/7 (32/64 bit)
    And maybe surprising to all is another good, FREE option which has performed quite well in recent testing is

    Microsoft Security EssentialsOperating System: Genuine Windows XP (Service Pack 2 or Service Pack 3); Windows Vista (Gold, Service Pack 1, or Service Pack 2); Windows 7
    Guards against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software
    Should you feel the need to have or scan with a “backup,” use one of the Online Scans listed in the Read Me First Sticky Post.


    3 – In addition to a good AV app, a Good Firewall is absolutely mandatory! Windows, beginning with XP forward comes with a built in firewall, XP firewall only monitors incoming traffic, Vista and Windows 7 has a "two way" firewall. Personally, I prefer a firewall that monitors both incoming and outgoing traffic.

    To that end, I would suggest employing one of the firewalls listed below:

    ONLINE ARMOR Firewall (Windows XP/Vista/Windows 7)

    COMODO Firewall (Windows XP/Vista/Windows 7)

    Outpost Firewall (Windows 2000/XP/Vista, not yet available for Windows 7)

    PC TOOLS FIREWALL (WIndows XP 32bit, Vista 32/64bit, Windows 7 32/64bit

    Should you choose to run a software firewall other than the built-in Windows Firewall, be sure to disable the Windows Firewall.

    **Also, it is perfectly OK to run a software firewall along with a hardware firewall (such as one found in a router).


    4 – Employ strong resident Spyware Scanners and Spyware Blockers. Some of the better FREE tools include the following:
    Malwarebytes'Anti-Malware (MBA-M)
    Windows 2000, XP, Vista, and 7 (32-bit and 64-bit). Download, Install, Update. Do at least a Quick Scan weekly, ALWAYS updating FIRST. MBA-M has daily updates, sometime more than once a day so the rule is, UPDATE, UPDATE, UPDATE, BEFORE each and every scan. Quick Scan is sufficient for weekly scans, HOWEVER, in the event a Quick Scan finds a problem have it immediately remove the infections, REBOOT->VERY IMPORTANT, Update again and then do the Full Scan. If the full scan shows clean then all is usually fine. If the Full Scan finds additional problems, again have it clean or remove everything found, REBOOT and then come back here and begin a new thread. We will then walk you through the process to assure your computer is cleaned.

    SUPERAntiSpyware Free - Registered version provides real-time protection.
    • SpyBotSD -- This Scanner/Remover is a Must Have! - Do not use the TeaTimer feature.
    • Spyware Blaster -- A Must Have Tool! Blocks malicious ActiveX installs by implementing a “kill bit” to prevent those ActiveX programs with known CLSIDs from being executed.
    And unlike many other anti-spy apps, SpywareBlaster does not have to remain running in the background. Very highly recommended! From Javacool Software.
    Again, these will be at their most effective when Internet Updated regularly to the latest malware definitions!

    **Also, bear in mind that it is quite easy to go overboard with the Anti-spyware tools; you do not need to run all of these tools – select the few that best fit you and your computer! I suggest a simple setup.

    5 – Check out a few other handy tools that merit strong consideration:
    • CCleaner (Crap Cleaner) - - This is a good index.dat / TEMP File / Cookie Cleaner.
    Regular use of CCleaner or ATF-Cleaner.exe by Atribune(Windows XP & 2K ONLY) - from the Read Me First Sticky - is definitely recommended!
    6 – Tighten your Active X Security Settings if you are using Internet Explorer.

    To do this, Open IE and Click Tools > Internet Options > Security > Internet (Globe Icon) > Click Default Level and APPLY.

    NEXT, Click the Custom Level Button and adjust the settings as follows (some settings will already be properly set):
    * SET Download signed ActiveX controls to Prompt
    * SET Download unsigned ActiveX controls to Disable
    * SET Initialize and script ActiveX controls not marked as safe to Disable
    * SET Installation of desktop items to Prompt
    * SET Launching programs and files in an IFRAME to Prompt
    * SET Navigate sub-frames across different domains to Prompt
    After changing these settings as noted, please Click OK. If you are prompted to save the settings, click YES.
    Finally, click APPLY and OK to finalize these settings.


    7 – Use an Alternate Browser (such as Firefox or Opera ) which may not be quite as susceptible to the same evils as IE. Both of these are excellent, and many consider them a step up from IE in ease of use and versatility!

    To add more security to your browsing I also suggest that you add:


    • WOT - Safe Surfing Tool -- The WOT add-on is a safe surfing tool for your browser. The traffic-light rating symbols show which websites you can trust for safe surfing, shopping and searching on the web.


    8 – Replace Microsoft Java Virtual Machine with SUN JVM or Update your existing Java!

    8-A: If you already have Sun Java (and most of you probably do) it is important that you be sure that your Java is UPDATED to the latest version! You should do that on a regular basis here ---> www.java.com/en/
    Also note that, before updating your Sun Java, you MUST remove ALL older versions that may be on your machine or you will still be vulnerable to some exploits/weaknesses such as VUNDO which may target and force execution on older runtime environments.
    -- Do this by going into Add or Remove Programs and removing any versions that differ from the current version listed at the Java site. They may look similar to the following:
    Java 2 Runtime Environment SE v1.4.2.06
    J2SE Runtime Environment 5.0 Update 2
    J2SE Runtime Environment 5.0 Update 9
    Java(TM) SE Runtime Environment 6 Update 1
    Java(TM) 6 Update 2


    Also a key to keeping your computer secure is using up to date programs. An excellent easy way to check for updates to your various programs is to use the program below:

    Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI) -- Secunia PSI is a FREE security tool designed to detect vulnerable and out-dated programs and plug-ins which expose your PC to attacks. Attacks exploiting vulnerable programs and plug-ins are rarely blocked by traditional anti-virus and are therefore increasingly "popular" among criminals.

    If you have Adobe Reader it is important that you keep it updated to the latest version. Do that here http://get.adobe.com/reader/.

    OR a good alternative to the Adobe Reader is the Foxit Reader.

    If you have Adobe Flash Player it is important that you keep it updated to the latest version. Do that here http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/.

    *** Additionally, you should be wary of Anti-Spyware tools with which you are not familiar!! There are all sorts of poor (and sometimes downright malicious) products of ill repute out there vying for your attention. These are called "Rogues." If you think you may have one of these then you can check it out at the link below:



    While I have found that nothing can guarantee that your machine will remain malware-free, the above are definitely steps in the right direction!



    PhilliePhan
    Originally Posted 6-02-05
    Last edited by jholland1964; 07-30-2010 at 03:39 PM. Reason: Update and old program removal

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