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Protecting your computer

If you computer is infected with malware or viruses, it puts the entire campus network at risk. Before you connect  follow the steps below which help protect and clean your computer.

You must avoid falling for email scams (called phishing), detect and remove unwanted malware (calledspyware), prevent (or remove) virus infections and stop hackers from turning your machine into azombie slave by applying Microsoft patches on a regular basis. 

There are four categories of protection that you should implement to protect and clean your computer

Virus Protection

Regardless of whether your computer is connected to the Internet, virus protection is a must! Many capable virus protection programs can be had for free.

Spyware Detection and Removal

Spyware detection and removal programs can help insure that your computer is free of malware or other pests... and keep it that way. These applications will scan your hard drive for Spyware and remove it.  

You should use at least two of anti-spyware programs.  Often, one will detect a problem that another fails to detect. A good suggestion is to use Windows Defender (configured automatically in Windows 7) plus one other tool. A few are listed below:
Download.com has rated spyware removal tools in the Spware removal section of it's Security starter kit
Run anti-spyware programs before you do online banking or use a credit card on the web (or enter any personal information online) to help protect your identity and personal information.

Microsoft Windows Updates

Windows updates, patches and fixes are periodically made available for download and installation from Microsoft.  These updates close known vulnerabilities in your operating system. 
Windows XP:
Open Internet Explorer, select the Safety Tab then Windows Update
Windows 7:
You can get to the updates through Internet Explorer as above. Alternatively, you can select the Startbutton and type "Windows Updates" in the search box.

Software FireWalls

Firewalls prevent hackers and malicious programs from gaining access to your computer through the Internet.  It also can prevent malware on your computer from accessing the Internet to compromise your personal information.  

There are two types of firewalls— software and hardware.  Although some people will run than one firewall, only one is necessary. We will talk about software firewalls here since hardware firewalls are usually built into your network infrastrure by default

Software Firewalls
  • ZoneAlarm offers both commercial and free versions of their software firewall at http://www.zonealarm.com.  (I recommend starting with their free version.  It is easy to install and configure.)
     
  • If you are running Windows 7, Microsoft Firewall provides the ability to control incoming and outgoing connections
     
  • If you are running Windows XP SP2, Microsoft provides a built-in software firewall with the operating system.  Unlike ZoneAlarm and the Firewall in Windows 7, Microsoft’s firewall only protects against incoming traffic.  It does not monitor outgoing traffic.  To turn on the firewall, click on the Start button and select “Control Panel.”  When the window opens, locate the “Windows Firewall” icon and click on it.