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  • How do I make my computer more secure?

    So, last Thursday I was infected by Total Security. I wasn't even doing anything sketchy. I was just trying to chat with someone on busuu in order to learn Spanish. I have to say that this infection was a nightmare. It wouldn't let me open task manager, or winamp, or Word, or ant-spyware programs, or certain internet browsers. It wouldn't even let me go into safe mode. Amazingly, I was able to get rid of Total Security.

    I really want to make sure that something like this never happens again. What do I do to protect my computer? Right now I have the free version of Avast, but that did little to protect my computer. It alerted me when I got infected with Total Security, but despite my attempts to move the malicious files to the virus chest or delete them, my computer still got infected by Total Security. Right now, I also have the free version of Spyware Doctor installed, but I'm not sure the free version actually protects me. I think it just alerts me when I am infected, which is completely useless. I also have the free version of SuperAntiSpyware installed. Will that protect me from future attacks?

  • #2
    Re: How do I make my computer more secure?

    What OS are you running, is it fully patched etc? What firewall (if any) do you have installed or on your network? What browser and other apps do you use?
    BSc, MCSA: Server 2008, MCSE, MCSA: Messaging, MCTS
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    Cruachan's Blog

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    • #3
      Re: How do I make my computer more secure?

      Originally posted by cruachan View Post
      What OS are you running, is it fully patched etc? What firewall (if any) do you have installed or on your network? What browser and other apps do you use?
      I'm running Windows XP. I don't know what fully patched means. When I go into Windows Security Center it says Windows Firewall is on. I used to use Internet Explorer but I heard Firefox was more secure so I'm using that now.

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      • #4
        Re: How do I make my computer more secure?

        He means is XP fully up to date? Are you missing anything from Windows Update?
        ** Remember to give credit where credit is due and leave reputation points where appropriate **

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        • #5
          Re: How do I make my computer more secure?

          Update Windows using either Windows update or Microsoft Update.
          Install a decent AV scanner, one you have to pay for.
          Install a decent firewall, hardware preferable.
          Install Spybot, Malwarebytes Antispyware and Javacool Spyware blaster.

          Ultimately though if you really want to secure your system remove it from the Internet or revise you browsing habits.

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          • #6
            Re: How do I make my computer more secure?

            There are several sites that you can for that give you step by step instructions for removing the nasties. If you don't want to look for the steps then one thing you should do at a minimum is to Turn OFF System Restore, boot into Safe Mode and then run all the free spyware apps and a/v scans. Then and only then can you boot into your normal profile and renable System Restore.
            1 1 was a racehorse.
            2 2 was 1 2.
            1 1 1 1 race 1 day,
            2 2 1 1 2

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            • #7
              Re: How do I make my computer more secure?

              Originally posted by Wired View Post
              He means is XP fully up to date? Are you missing anything from Windows Update?
              Well, for some reason, whenever I download the Windows Updates, it always tells me there's more updates the next day. The little icon never seems to go away. Are there new updates every day? It takes so long to download these updates all the time. How often should I click on the download updates icon?

              Originally posted by wullieb1 View Post
              Update Windows using either Windows update or Microsoft Update.
              Install a decent AV scanner, one you have to pay for.
              I have no money. Aren't there any good free anti virus scanners?

              Originally posted by wullieb1 View Post
              Install a decent firewall, hardware preferable.
              So, what's a good, free firewall that I can install?

              Originally posted by wullieb1 View Post
              Install Spybot, Malwarebytes Antispyware and Javacool Spyware blaster.
              Well, the free version of Malwarebyes is already installed. I'll definitely install Spybot and Spyware Blaster if you think it will help protect my system.

              Originally posted by wullieb1 View Post
              Ultimately though if you really want to secure your system remove it from the Internet or revise you browsing habits.
              I don't really think my browsing habits are the issue. I got the virus from Busuu.com, which is a pretty legitimate foreign language resource. I guess I didn't realize that you could get such nasty viruses just from opening up a chat window. Should I just avoid chats from now on? Or should I just be more careful about who I click on? I'd hate to avoid chatting as that's a pretty good way to learn a foreign language.
              Originally posted by biggles77 View Post
              There are several sites that you can for that give you step by step instructions for removing the nasties. If you don't want to look for the steps then one thing you should do at a minimum is to Turn OFF System Restore, boot into Safe Mode and then run all the free spyware apps and a/v scans. Then and only then can you boot into your normal profile and renable System Restore.
              I already removed the spyware. Though, really, googling it wouldn't have helped much, since the virus blocked most of the sites that mentioned it. Oh, and it also prevented me from running the computer in safe mode. This was a really nasty virus. I was about ready to reformat my hard drive. It's a miracle that I got rid of it. I really want to make sure that I secure my computer so that it doesn't happen again, because I might not be able to get rid of it next time.

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              • #8
                Re: How do I make my computer more secure?

                You can look at using the free edition of Grisoft AVG antivirus. It has an anti-spyware component as part of it as well. Another one to look at is ad-aware SE Personal free edition. When running the scans, carry them out in normal mode, then safe mode and then normal mode again.

                It is also worth reviewng the programs that run at startup and in the background. You can use MSCONFIG to examine some of those processes.

                The Microsoft Baseline Security Analyser is worth using as well. That will identify any missing updates amongst other things. Make sure you have Windows XP SP3 installed and use the Windows Firewall. Check the programs being allowed through the firewall and look into removing some of the exceptions of programs you don't use.

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                • #9
                  Re: How do I make my computer more secure?

                  I have in the past found the free edition of Zone Alarm to be a pretty good software firewall, but I haven't used it for some time.

                  As well as keeping the OS up to date make sure all of your apps are patched as well. E.g make sure you are running the latest version of Firefox, Adobe Flash (Especially Flash, it's a very popular source of attacks), Adobe Reader, Office etc.

                  Having a selection of Anti-Spyware software is usually a good idea as the others have said too.

                  Windows updates are released on the second Tuesday of each month normally, but if you are on a slowish connection they may come in dribs and drabs to you. If at all possible install MBSA as Virtual said - this will tell you all of the Windows Updates you are missing.
                  BSc, MCSA: Server 2008, MCSE, MCSA: Messaging, MCTS
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                  Cruachan's Blog

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                  • #10
                    Re: How do I make my computer more secure?

                    Originally posted by Virtual View Post
                    You can look at using the free edition of Grisoft AVG antivirus. It has an anti-spyware component as part of it as well. Another one to look at is ad-aware SE Personal free edition. When running the scans, carry them out in normal mode, then safe mode and then normal mode again.
                    I used to have AVG on my desktop, but I remember that after a while they stop letting you update it without purchasing it.

                    Originally posted by cruachan View Post
                    I have in the past found the free edition of Zone Alarm to be a pretty good software firewall, but I haven't used it for some time.
                    Thanks, I'll definitely check it out.

                    Originally posted by Virtual View Post
                    Windows updates are released on the second Tuesday of each month normally, but if you are on a slowish connection they may come in dribs and drabs to you. If at all possible install MBSA as Virtual said - this will tell you all of the Windows Updates you are missing.
                    Well, I downloaded 18 updates yesterday, and today it said one more update was available. After downloading it, it said another update was available. It seems to never end.

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                    • #11
                      Re: How do I make my computer more secure?

                      Update X is a prerequisite of update Y. Y won't be offered to you until X is installed. If you update your system enough times in a row, you will find no more are offered until the next time patches are released.
                      Gareth Howells

                      BSc (Hons), MBCS, MCP, MCDST, ICCE

                      Any advice is given in good faith and without warranty.

                      Please give reputation points if somebody has helped you.

                      "For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the Earth." (Exodus 9:15) - I could kill you with my thumb.

                      "Everything that lives and moves will be food for you." (Genesis 9:3) - For every animal you don't eat, I'm going to eat three.

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                      • #12
                        Re: How do I make my computer more secure?

                        AVG will sometimes try and get you to upgrade to the Pro version but the free edition does still allow you to receive updates. The only time it doesn't is when you need to upgrade to the new Free version of the software.

                        Also, can you confirm that you have SP3 installed. Right click on My Computer and select Properties. Read the information on the page and check SP3 is listed.

                        In Windows XP, you often have to restart a few times to receive all updates.

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                        • #13
                          Re: How do I make my computer more secure?

                          Originally posted by Virtual View Post
                          AVG will sometimes try and get you to upgrade to the Pro version but the free edition does still allow you to receive updates. The only time it doesn't is when you need to upgrade to the new Free version of the software.
                          So, is AVG better than Avast?

                          Anyway, I keep on getting this alert from ZoneAlarm saying that "The firewall has blocked internet access to your computer from 221.192.199.41 (TCP Port 12200) (TCP Flags: S)." What exactly does that mean? Someone's trying to hack into my computer?

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                          • #14
                            Re: How do I make my computer more secure?

                            Originally posted by Master Moron View Post
                            So, is AVG better than Avast?
                            "Better" is a little subjective. Aside from a product's effectiveness (Virus Bulletin and other third parties regularly review the effectiveness of antivirus products), you need to consider how confident you are in configuring the product so as to get the best level of protection, whether or not you end up disabling it to run certain programs, what exceptions you have to create if any... etc. Personally I wouldn't touch either AVG or Avast, but that's just me.

                            Originally posted by Master Moron View Post
                            Anyway, I keep on getting this alert from ZoneAlarm saying that "The firewall has blocked internet access to your computer from 221.192.199.41 (TCP Port 12200) (TCP Flags: S)." What exactly does that mean? Someone's trying to hack into my computer?
                            Well, it means that a computer with that IP address tried to access that port on your computer. Possibly a "hack", or possibly something entirely benign. All it tells you is that ZoneAlarm detected a connection it hasn't been told to allow, and that it's done its job. Even if it is a "hack", chances are it's an automated probe.

                            That IP appears to be based in China...
                            Gareth Howells

                            BSc (Hons), MBCS, MCP, MCDST, ICCE

                            Any advice is given in good faith and without warranty.

                            Please give reputation points if somebody has helped you.

                            "For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the Earth." (Exodus 9:15) - I could kill you with my thumb.

                            "Everything that lives and moves will be food for you." (Genesis 9:3) - For every animal you don't eat, I'm going to eat three.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: How do I make my computer more secure?

                              So, anyway, now that I've installed Zone Alarm, Spyware Blaster, and Spybot is it okay to start chatting again? I've really been neglecting my Spanish studies.

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