A Practical Guide to Protecting Your Computer
By Cathy Margolin, Reviews Editor
Develop a Strategy
Personal Firewall (ZoneAlarm)
With all the unheard of things happening, you
are more at risk with your electronic resources than ever. The security people
are forecasting more viruses, more Trojan Horses and other electronic mayhem.
And the source may just be the kid next door with too much time on his hands
wanting to wreck more mayhem in this uncertain time.
Develop a Strategy
order to protect your computer in these uncertain times, you need to develop a
strategy for your computer. That means another four letter word- PLAN . First
off ask yourself these questions:
What is computer used for? E-mail,
Writing, Work, Genealogy ?
What is most important if I lost
it? What could I not recreate?
your computer is important, you should backup! And regularly!
There are two Types of Information: Data files and
Systems files/ Programs.
Data files change much more
often and should be backed up accordingly. I use C drive for my programs and D
drive for all my data, making it much easier to backup my data since it is
segregated and visible.
Since hard drive are so
cheap these days (40 gig for $99) , they have become the backup of choice for
home systems. One way to do this is removable Mobile Docks. This is a removable
unit that fits in an open drive bay, an IDE hard drive fits in it and it can be
easily removed from the front of your computer. The Mobile Drive I use is
Inclose.com and costs about $24 for the
entire unit and $12 for extra inserts for extra removable hard drives. I then
use Laplink to backup all my drives from my
original first hard disk to my removable second hard drive.
Weekly I then use my CD-RW drive to backup any Data that has changed during the
week (so I have versions in case of a virus or Human error- grin).
Also do not forget to
backup your Email files and address book..
1. AOL users:
In the AOL folder, everything is in
the folder called "Organize" – back up entire directory backs up the favorite
places, email and the address book
In the AOL folder, "Download"
folder is usually where the Downloaded files go.
You may want to try Powertools Pro
(keyword BPS ) to create an exportable/printable address book. (cost is about
$25). PowerTools software creates an Access database, which can then be exported
to other email programs..
2. Outlook Users:
It is usually called outlook.pst
- look in the C:\Windows folder for it. It has mail, address book, calendar,
3. Outlook Express (using
The file called inbox.dbx, etc. is
usually found at
Data\Identities\ weird name(?)\Microsoft\Outlook Express\ and files like
4. Netscape Users:
Anything under: C:\Program
Bookmark.htm is your bookmark
\Mail\inbox is your inbox
\Mail\sent is the mail you have
5. Internet Explorer Users
C:\Windows\Favorites is where all
your Favorite places are stored.
In the Eudora folder (usually).
Back up each of these files in
another drive, a backup hard drive, a removable drive, or even on a CD-ROM.
Having to re-create your Address book or Favorite places is not a fun thing to
do, so Back up these files up often!
Defragmentation of your hard drive
is optimizing how date is stored on your hard disk and preventing lost
clusters. I recommend doing this at least weekly. My favorite program for this
is Vopt by Golden Bow Software (www.goldenbow.com )
UPS is Uninterruptible Power Supply
(UPS) which gracefully lets your computer shut down when a power outage &
protects from power spikes/surges . Get a UPS
with software to do this. Also be aware that it will take either a Serial port
(not modem or mouse) or a USB port- which do you have open to dedicate to this
you don’t want UPS, at least put Surge protectors on all computer/TV, etc.
including the modem line.
a virus checker and keep it up to date for software and the most current virus
definitions. Don’t forget to include the Recycle bin in your virus
checking, since the latest viruses now put things there. Update the virus
“Just so you know, WinXP's built-in firewall does not attempt to manage or
restrict outbound connections at all. It appears to be a useful firewall for
hiding the machine from the Internet (it has "stealth mode" unsolicited packet
handling), but you will still need to use a good third-party personal firewall
if you wish to manage and control outbound connections from your system.”
“Crucial as it is to protect yourself from malicious hackers outside, those bad
guys represent only half of the threat. The internet has proven to be an
extremely fertile transportation medium for all manner of nasty Trojan horse
programs, rapidly proliferating viruses, and privacy invading
commercial spyware. As a result, it is no longer true that all of the potential
problems reside outside the computer. Your Internet connection flows both ways
. . . so must your security. Steve Gibson
Steve Gibson recommends
the Zone Alarm (www.zonealarm.com
-they have a free downloadable version that is excellent) as a personal firewall
for even dial up and cable/DSL users to protect your computer from intrusions
and software that “phones home”.
Use a physical Firewall
such as the Linksys Cable /DSL Router (see grc.com for more discussion) to help
share your Internet connection with your other computers. Also make certain to
use ZoneAlarm in addition to a physical firewall.
using your computer use common sense. Recommendations for E-mail:
-Do NOT open ANY .exe files
-Be careful of ANY attachment
-Consider changing to a Non-Outlook
e-mail reader (prime target for hacking)
Recommendations for Websites
Be careful where you put your Credit
Card or personal info. Many web sites MUST have an E-mail account, but you know
they will sell your name for spam, so I use a Hotmail (hotmail.com) e-mail
account for sites like that. Thay way my normal e-mail box is not trashed with
When on a website that wants your
credit card, make certain that the Lock is LOCKED before enter credit card. This
is usually in the lower left hand corner of the browser (Internet Explorer or
Netscape). Also do not send credit card info via E-mail.
Remember, if you would not do it outside the Internet, you probably should not
do it via the Internet (i.e.. Give out checking account, social security number,
etc.). There was a website that asked you for your social security number to
tell you where you were born. Not a good idea!
So use Common Sense and BE SAFE!!!