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Tech Corner

Keep the Bugs Out!

The following is a list of programs I use to keep out viruses, trojan horses, worms, malware, spyware, etc., etc. I believe all of these are available for download at Major Geeks. If not, do a Google search.

Norton Anti-Virus - This, or any good anti-virus should be on all computers. This is the very least any computer owner should have. McAfee, AVG, avast! and others are also available. Important! - remember to keep the virus definition files updated. New viruses, worms, etc. appear every day! You should update your system at least once a week. Double check to make sure that the Real-Time Protection is enabled!

Zone Alarm (firewall) - This is the second most important application you should have on your computer. Zone Alarm can prevent anything from loading onto your system, AND prevent anything from being sent out of your computer. These are both very important features! The built-in firewall program in Windows XP only keeps bad stuff from coming in, not going out! Even with XP's firewall enabled, it is still programmed to allow some things from the Microsoft site to load onto your computer, without your knowledge!

Comodo is another excellent free firewall application.

Update: Vista has a two-way firewall built-in, but the 'out-going' feature is disabled by default. I would recommend turning on this feature. Also, if you are using a hardware type router, it should have a good 'incoming' firewall feature, but many do not restrict out-going packets.

Mailwasher - (mailwasher.net) - This is a slick program that allows you to check out (even read) your email at the server level of your I.S.P. This way, you can decide whether to allow, delete, bounce, or blacklist any email before it ever gets to your computer. You can also set up ‘filters' to look for key words, phrases, etc. and block these emails from loading onto your system.

Ad-Aware SE Personal - This program and SpyBot will search your system for any ‘malware'. Adware and spyware are both types of malware that can, without your knowledge, install itself on your computer any time you click on an internet ad, popup, open email and even sometimes when you load a website for viewing. These ‘malware' programs can gather information about you, your computing habits, sites you regularly visit, types of software installed on your computer, etc. and send this info back to an originating site. Both of these programs will locate any malware and give you the choice of either leaving as is, or deleting. Also, both of these need to be updated regularly. I recommend downloading and running both of these. They seem to work well together: what one doesn't find, the other will.

SpyBot Search & Destroy - See above.

Microsoft Defender - (XP/Vista) This program is free for XP users. It is also included in Windows Vista. It was rated best in a recent review of several antispyware programs. XP users should download it now!

I recommend using all of these applications. Best of all, they are all free, including the anti-virus programs. AVG and avast! are both free anti-virus programs that you can download off the internet. If you keep your eyes open, you can find specials at computer and office supply stores that give you a rebate equal to the cost of the Norton and McAfee Anti-Virus programs. Also, every year at tax time, these programs are usually free with the purchase of any tax preparation software.

73 - N4UMS, Bill