Saturday, April 21, 2007

What Parents Should Know

Parental Peace of Mind

The invention of the Internet has made a few specific parenting jobs that much more complex. Though we want our children to experience the vast wealth of knowledge available on the Internet and communicate with their friends online (frees up the telephone), we also worry about their safety. Unfortunately, the World Wide Web can expose our children to inappropriate and harmful material, obscene pop-up ads, and even sexual predators.

Research indicates that 1 in 5 children aged 10 to 17 have received a sexual solicitation over the Internet. This is not what parents want to hear, but it is something that parents need to face head-on!

We need to take steps to ensure that when our children access the web, they can do so safely. Internet filters are crucial to protect your children.

One tool that can assist us in this goal is Internet Parental Control software. One of the top names in parental control software is ContentWatch, and if the Big Mouse himself recommends this product, then it has to be good.

If Disney feels good enough to install three of the ContentWatch products in their Disney Dream Desk PC, it has to be worthy. After all, they are willing to stake their reputation on it. rated ContentProtect 2.0 the #1 Internet filtering software. It is easy to install, configure, and customize. If you do have any problems, ContentWatch provides unlimited toll-free technical support.

ContentProtect can block pornography, hate sites, questionable chat rooms, and other known dangers of the Internet. You can even configure ContentProtect to block online game and gambling sites, and make it so your children can only install and play computer games with parental ratings that you deem appropriate. Other features include: Integration with Safe Search features in popular search engines Reports of your children's internet activity Logs of your child's chat room and instant messages Reports if your child tries to remove or disable protection Filters bad content on Peer-to-Peer networks and other areas Password protected access for parents Customizable restrictions for each family member. Automatic software updates at no additional cost.

ContentWatch provides a two-week, no-obligation free trial of the full version. The product costs $39.99 per seat (installs on only one computer).

This is a one time purchase price which will give you unlimited use of the service. You never have to renew a subscription or pay any additional membership fees for use of the program. It seems like a reasonable price for a little parental peace of mind.

Is your computer safe for your kids to play on?

Fast Growing Crime - ID Theft

Name, Rank, and Social Security Number Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the U.S.

The U.S. Secret Service has estimated that consumers nationwide lose $745 million to identity theft each year. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, the average victim spends 607 hours and averages $1,000 just to clear their credit records.

Theives who steal Identiies use a number of different methods to retrieve your personal information without you knowing. They may be able to gain your information from businesses or other institutions by stealing it. They may bribe an employee who has access to records. They may get information by hacking into records. Maybe they will end up just plain conning the information out of employees. Once identity thieves have your personal information, they may easily use it to commit an act of fraud or theft using your name.

How can you tell if you have become a victim of identity theft?

Some signs include unexplained charges or withdrawals from your financial accounts

Bills or other mail stop arriving because the thief might have submitted a change of address

Perhaps a credit application is denied you for no apparent reason

Debt collectors may begin calling you about merchandise or services you didn’t buy.

Your computer can be a goldmine to anyone who is in the practice of stealing identities. Your computer contains a wealth of personal information for an identity thief to play with.

To protect yourself and your computer against identity theft consider:

Updating virus protection software frequently.

Consider setting your virus protection software to update automatically.

The Windows XP operating system also can be set to check for patches automatically.

Windows XP will also download the patches to your computer automatically.

Do not opening files sent to you by strangers

Do not click on hyperlinks

Do not download programs from people or companies you don’t know.

Use a firewall program, particularly if you are on high speed Internet connections

High Speed cable or DSL leaves your computer attached to the internet 24h a day.

Make sure you firewall against intruders if your machine will be conneted 24h/day

Only provide personal or financial information through secured websites.

While not fool proof, a lock icon on the browser’s status bar or a URL for a website that begins "https:" (the "s" stands for secure), may provide additional security.

Stop storing financial information on your laptop, unless this is absolutely necessary.

Delete all the personal information stored on a computer before disposing of it.

Use a "wipe" utility program to overwrite the entire hard drive.

Check with an anti-fraud education organization such as CardCops (

Card Cops runs a web site designed to help consumers determine whether their credit card numbers may have been stolen or not. They monitor Internet "chat rooms" where identity thieves gather. Here, the thieves illicitly trade and sell stolen credit card numbers. CardCops turns pertinent information over to law enforcement authorities. The authorities will also allow consumers to access a database to see whether individual card numbers may have been stolen.
In the first two months of operation, the site identified more than 100,000 stolen credit cards.

As with any crime, you can not completely control whether you will become a victim, but you can take steps to minimize your risk by remaining diligent and by minimizing outside access to your personal information.

Phishing Not As Great As Fishing

If you've never received a 'phishing' email (and that's NOT an invitation to go 'fishing,' either!), then you're one of the lucky few!

If you have received email from a 'phisher' - asking you to visit a familiar website to verify or update personal information, then you NEED TO STOP - before you even respond or get thinking about your accounts, money, or anything else. DO NOT CLICK on ANYTHING within the email!

A phishing attempt/email might ask you to

* verify information at a common site you may use such as paypal, e-Gold, eBay, etc.

*upgrade for some special DEAL at any common site - an autosurf, traffic exchange, money exchange service, almost ANY KIND OF SITE!

*update your info

*update or provide your banking information

*update or provide your credit card number, social security or social insurance numbers, etc.

Often, you'll think that you recognize the business name mentioned in the email - and you'll think that everything must be okay - since the email mentions a company that you're familiar with.....


Don't clik on the 'take me there' link and - especially do NOT provide the information that the email asks you to give!

The link will only lead to a bogus website or other web location (blog, chatsite, forum, etc) that APPEARS TO BE the site you think it is, as described in the email. This site was created by someone whose sole purpose is to steal your personal information! The site may even look JUST LIKE the original...but be assured that it is NOT the site you think it is no matter how professional the site may look - no matter that is looks just like the one you've been led to think it is.

Phishing (pronounced as "fishing") is defined as the act of sending an email that falsely claims to the recipient that you are acting on behalf or that you own an established business. The "Phisher's" intent is to scam the recipient into surrendering their private information, thus, ultimately stealing the recipient's identity.

It is not alwayss as easy as you might think to spot an email send by a phisher who is phishing for information. At first glance, the email may look like it is from a legitimate company.

The "From" field of the e-mail may have the .com address of the company mentioned in the e-mail.

The clickable link even appears to take you to the company's website, when in fact, it is a fake website built to replicate the legitimate site.

Many phishers are professional criminals. They have spent a lot of time in creating emails that look authentic.

Users need to review all emails requesting personal information carefully.

When reviewing your email remember that the "From Field" can be easily changed by the sender.

While it may look like it is coming from a .com you do business with, looks can be deceiving.

Also - keep in mind that the phisher will go all out in trying to make their email look as legitimate as possible. They will even copy logos or images from the official site to use in their emails.

Finally, they like to include a clickable link that the recipient can follow to conveniently update their information.

How to check the legitimacy of a link:

Hover your mouse over the link - without actually clicking

Look to the bottom left-hand of your computer screen.

The website address to which you are about to be taken will show up in a small viewing area.

Finally, follow these three important rules:

* Never, ever, click the links within the text of the e-mail.
* Always delete such an e-mail immediately.
* Once you have deleted the e-mail, empty the trash box in your e-mail accounts as well.

If you are truly concerned that you are missing an important notice regarding one of your accounts, then type the full URL address of the website into your browser. Then find out through your safe members area if there was, indeed, some kind of request sent out - for you to update your details.

Beware of Intelligent Explorer Plug-Ins

Just what is Intelligent Explorer? For your safety, you really need to know!

Know your browser! READ anything that looks like upgrade or update options that might pop up at unusual times or in unusual manners - especially if you have been randomly surfing online.

Most security suites - provide 'scheduling' options for when they'll look for, download and install updates. KNOW WHEN these times are set - and if an upgrade or update occurs beyond the time that you have set in your 'scheduling' - BE SUSPICIOUS and don't just click to update, install, upgrade, or any other thing that a pop-up might ask.

A program called 'Intelligent Explorer' is a suspicious program as such! It is a NIGHTMARE! And it usually gets INTO your system by tricking you with a pop up window that asks you to upgrade, update or add further protection to your computer or browsers.

It will load and install a product called Intelligent Explorer on your computer. Afterward you'll have an extra 'toolbar' connected to your browsers.

According to some 'security tip' forums I visit,

BullGuard, CWShredder and Ad-Aware (normally considered very top-end, excellent protection programs) won't help you to easily remove "Intelligent Explorer" once you're infected. They can 'detect' but not solve your problem - as this malicious-ware re-writes itself and moves itself around!

Spy-bot software also seems to be of no help in removing this menace!

The malware toolbar makes your system allow OTHER and MORE DOWNLOADS that you DO NOT WANT on your computer.

The Intelligent Explorer plug-in is JUST PLAIN NASTY!!!

This plug-in is a PRIME EXAMPLE of why you should be diligent about reading TOS agreements before you load ANYTHING onto your machine.
In this program's terms, you grant the right for other things to be downloaded onto your computer - once you have initially 'clicked okay'!

Here's a small portion of their TOS:

"You grant to us the right, exercisable by us until you uninstall the Software or this agreement is otherwise terminated, to provide to you the Service of downloading and causing to be displayed advertising material on your computer, through ‘pop-up’ or other display while you use your browser. You acknowledge and agree that installation of the Software may automatically modify toolbars and other settings of your browser. By installing the Software you agree to such modifications."

(go to to read it in its entirety)

The company, IBC incorporated, is incorporated in Belize. This is an example of a really DRASTIC license! One end user found highly objectionable pop-up advertisements generated by this software bundled with Intelligent Explorer. In short, the ads were of the 'extreme pornography' variety!

Intelligent Explorer is a plug-in, which can create a new home page, as well as start up and endless loop of pop-ups. You can remove the view bar, but then starting up Internet Explorer will only cause it to reappear again (it re-writes itself so that it never really 'leaves' - just the first copy goes away when you 'uninstall' by regular methods).

One forum writer/poster who installed this toolbar said,

"I asked some friends to help, and no one could tell me what to do. This is what I did: I bought a copy of a program called XoftSpy and it removed the software. It took two scans and a reboot to do it. This is not an advertisement for this product. They advertised it was free, which it was to run, but then I had to buy it to actually fix anything. It cost me $40 and I am sure that there are freeware products out there as well, but that is what ended the nightmare for me."

So - at a $40 cost, including a huge headache, the above user was finally able to get rid of the problem.

Other spyware products I have seen out there include spybot, NoAdware, Spyware Eliminator, Pal Spyware Remover, and Spyware C.O.P. Let the buyer beware!

These programs often provide the function they claim - but also install other bundled items all during one nice and neat installation.........that YOU INITIATE by clicking 'I Agree' or 'Yes' too quickly. The other items are what will cause you nightmares.

Again - Read all TOS agreements - many spyware applications can be bundled into or attached to ANY SOFTWARE PRODUCT.....and again -


Who Fights AntiViruses?

These are 'The Good Guys' in the Anti-virus battle:

Everyone in the United States has heard of the leading antivirus vendors Symantec, Mcafee, Computer Associates, and Trend Micro.

These companies have market-leading presence, particularly in the United States. Microsoft is also becoming a key player in this market.

Microsoft acquired intellectual property and technology from GeCad software in 2003. The GeCad company's home-base is in Bucharest, Romania.

Microsoft also Pelican Software, which had a behavior based security as well as Giant Company Software for spyware and Sybari Software, which manages virus, spam, and phishing filtering.

A lot of discussion has centered on whether or not Microsoft has come into its own as a dominant factor in the antivirus market - by way of simply bundling its security technologies along with operating systems - at no charge.

This 'bundling' technique applied in other markets - such as word processing and Internet browsers.

Of course there are a number of antivirus vendors who also play in this market.

Becoming well known and establishing a firm market presence are companies like:

GriSoft - out of the Czech Republic

Sophos - in the United Kingdom

Panda Software - from Spain

Kaspersky - in Russia

SoftWin - in Romania

F-Secure - in Finland

Norman - in Norway

Arcabit - in Poland

VirusBuster - out of Hungary


AhnLab in South Korea.

It is not clear exactly where the industry is heading, but it is not doubted that everyone within this market faces a rapidly changing landscape. The amount of effort to find and provide fixes for viruses is staggering. Malicious programs are getting more complex and the number of them is increasing at an alarming rate. Many companies quickly find themselves without the resources to match efforts of those truly bent on creating havoc.

Some virus companies are getting of hundreds of new samples a day! Moreover, new viruses are getting "smarter" in that they propagate themselves quickly and they often hide themselves and are smart enough to move around in a system by renaming themselves in an effort to make it hard to remove them.

Not Just a Greek Myth - The Trojan Horse

We have all heard the term "Trojan Horse," but what exactly is it - aside from Greek Myth?

A Trojan Horse is a destructive program that masquerades as a harmless application (Just like Odysseus' harmless 'gift' horse that was accepted into the city of Troy). Unlike viruses, Trojan Horses do not replicate themselves, but they can be just as destructive.

One of the most dangerous examples of a Trojan is a program that promises to rid your computer of viruses - but instead - (the gift) introduces viruses into your computer (the army bursting OUT of the horse in the middle of the night to attack Troy/your computer) .

The Trojan can be engineered as extremely tricky.

Who hasn’t been online and had an advertisement pop up claiming to be able to rid your computer of some nasty virus?

Or - more frightening still - you receive an email that claims to be alerting you to a new virus that can threaten your computer! The sender promises to quickly eradicate, or protect, your computer from viruses if you simply download their "free", attached software into your computer. You may be skeptical but the software looks legitimate and the company sounds reputable.....

So how to you proceed?
...many people proceed by taking the advertisers up on their offer - just in case - and they download the software!

In doing so, a user has just potentially exposed his/herself to a gargantuan headache and a computer system to a sundry list of ailments!

When a Trojan is activated, several things can occur:

Some Trojans are more annoying than malicious.
Some of the less annoying Trojans may choose to change your desktop settings or add silly desktop icons.
More serious, malicious Trojans can erase or overwrite data on your computer, corrupt files, spread other malware (such as viruses), spy on the user of a computer.
Trojan spyware can secretly report data to their makers - like browsing habits, passwords, credit car numbers, bank account details, etc.
Trojans may insert keyloggers to keep track of a user's keystrokes and gain 'the usual information' - passwords and credit card numbers, phish for bank account details (which can be used for criminal activities).
Trojan programs can even install a "backdoor" into your computer system so that the Trojan-maker/expert can come and go into and out of your computer at will and at his or her convenience!


Haha - okay - just joking. There's absolutely no fear to be had with any kind of people EXCEPT those who are designing and distributing Trojan software programs.

Here are some recommended guidelines for avoiding Trojan horse viruses

follow these guidelines. Remain diligent Trojans can infect your computer
#1 - Remain diligent in your use of ANTI-spyware and ANTI-virus softwares that are trusted. If you're using some antivirus programs already that have worked in the past - UPDATE those before you go looking around for the next greatest, latest softward - especially downloadable programs! (Remember - these are often the 'gift' of a virus).

Trojans can infect your computer through rogue websites, instant messaging, and emails that contain attachments.

Do not download anything into your computer unless you are 100 percent sure of its sender or source.

Ensure that your operating system is always up-to-date. If you are running a Microsoft Windows operating system, this is essential.

Install reliable anti-virus software. It is also important that you download any updates frequently to catch all new Trojan Horses, viruses, and worms.

Be sure that the anti-virus program that you choose can also scan e-mails and files downloaded through the internet.

Consider installing a firewall. A firewall is a system that prevents unauthorized use and access to your computer.

A firewall is not going to eliminate your computer virus problems, but when used in conjunction with regular operating system updates and reliable anti-virus software, it can provide additional security and protection for your computer.

Nothing can absolutely guarantee the security of your computer 100 percent, however YOU SHOULD ALWAYS BE THINKING OF HOW TO MAKE IT MORE DIFFICULT FOR A VIRUS TO ENTER YOUR SYSTEM!

You can continue to improve your computer's security and decrease the possibility of infection by consistently following these guidelines, as a minimum measure to protecting yourself and your computer.

Last tip:

If you have previously 'not been interested' or 'haven't had the time' to learn more about PC Security, I recommend that you do whatever it takes to overcome your disinterest and the time-management issues that keep you from learning more about how to keep your computer (and your personal information) safe from malware-distributors, hackers, ID Theives and the like!

Review of Zone Alarm - and Malware info

Malware. A word to strike fear into the heart of internet users. If it doesn't frighten you yet, IT SHOULD!

Malware is a strange but efficient word used to categorize all malicious software programs. The category of 'malware' includes - viruses, worms, trojans, spyware, adware, and other malevolent codes.

Computer Economics released a report on malware in 2005. In this report, the good news was that for the first time since 2002, the total worldwide financial losses from malware actually declined to a mere $14.2 billion.

The bad news was that the nature of malware was changing from overt threats to more focused, covert attacks.

This is no great news for the average computer user just trying to keep up with the hundreds of malware programs that bombard us daily.

Keeping malware out of your computer system is no easy task. To do so, you need an effective antivirus program.

One such program is the ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite 6 from Zone Labs. Zone Labs is one of the most trusted companies in the Internet Security field for a good reason.

Their product kicks serious malware butt!

ZoneAlarm has received high review recommendations - higher than most other Internet-security software suites because of its superb firewall and antivirus protection. It blocks pop-up ads, protects against identify theft and provides adequate spam filters that are flexible.

It even beats the market leader, Norton Internet Security, which is often criticized for excessive system drag.

The newest Zone Labs Zone Alarm version includes these additional features:

* Triple Defense Firewall to prevent spyware from sending your information across the Internet. It also makes your computer invisible to anyone on the Net.
* Smart Defense Advisor which can automatically adjust your security settings for maximum protection against the latest virus and spyware outbreaks.
* Advanced Identify and Privacy Protection to prevent your personal data from leaving your computer without your approval.

A bonus for the average user who cringes at the idea of setting-up one of these systems is that the interface is easier to understand and use - as compared to most competitor software.

If you choose to venture beyond the out-of-the-box default settings, and install a more elaborate filtering, know that this will require some additional time to set up on your part.


Zone Labs' "Zone Alarm Internet Security Suite" is user-friendly and provides a comprehensive security solution that will keep your computer safer from Internet hazards and cyber criminals than most security suites do. Your protection will be set up within minutes of installation.

Am I Being Watched?

Do you feel like someone is watching you?

It might be true!

You could have Spy-Ware on your computer and, indeed, someone COULD BE watching your every internet move!

Spyware is one of the fastest-growing, most constant internet threats of today. According to the National Cyber Security Alliance, spyware infects more than 90% of all PCs today. These unobtrusive, malicious programs are designed to engage with your computer, silently bypassing your firewalls and your anti-virus software without the user being aware of their presence.

Once embedded into a user's computer system, a spyware program can cause havoc to the sytem's performance while, at the same time, it gathers your personal information as well as details about your surfing habits.

Fortunately, spyware programs do not usually self-replicate - like viruses and worms do.

Where does spyware come from?

Typically, from three main sources or in three basic ways:

First and most common:

The user installs it unknowingly themselves! Spyware is embedded, attached, or bundled with a freeware or shareware program without the user’s knowledge. The user downloads the program to their computer, then installs what they think is just the program they downloaded. The spyware installs, as well, during the other program installation.

Once installed, the spyware program goes to work collecting data for the spyware author’s personal use or to sell to a third-party.

Beware of many P2P file-sharing programs!!

They are notorious for spreading downloads that posses spyware programs.

The user of a downloadable program should pay extra attention to the accompanying licensing agreement.

Often the software publisher will warn the user that a spyware program will be installed along with the requested program. Unfortunately, we do not always take the time to read the fine print.

Some agreements may provide special "opt-out" boxes that the user can click to stop the spyware from being included in the download. Be sure to review the document before signing off on the download.

Another way that spyware can access your computer is by tricking you into manipulating the security features designed to prevent any unwanted installations.

The Internet Explorer Web browser was designed not to allow websites to start any unwanted downloads. That is why the user has to initiate a download by clicking on a link. These links can prove to be deceptive.

For example:

a pop-up modeled after a standard Windows dialog box, may appear on your screen. The message may ask you if you would like to optimize your internet access. It provides yes or no answer buttons, but - no matter which button you push, a download containing the spyware program will commence.

Newer versions of Internet Explorer are now making this spyware pathway into our computers a more difficult task.

Finally, some spyware applications infect a system by attacking security holes in the user's Web browser or other common software. When the user navigates a webpage controlled by a spyware author, the page contains code designed to attack the browser, and force the installation of the spyware program.

What can spyware programs do?

They can accomplish a great number of malicious tasks. Some of their deeds are simply annoying for the user - but other functions can be downright aggressive in nature.

Spyware can:

* Monitor your keystrokes for reporting purposes.
* Scan files located on your hard drive.
* Snoop through applications on our desktop.
* Install other spyware programs into your computer.
* Read your cookies.
* Steal credit card numbers, passwords, and other personal information.
* Change the default settings on your home page web browser.
* Mutate into a second generation of spyware thus making it more difficult to eradicate.
* Cause your computer to run slower.
* Deliver annoying pop up advertisements.
* Add advertising links to web pages for which the author does not get paid. (Instead, payment is directed to the spyware programmer that changed the original affiliate’s settings).
* Provide the user with no uninstall option and places itself in unexpected or hidden places within your computer making it difficult to remove.

Here are some examples of commonly seen spyware programs. Please note that while researchers will often give names to spyware programs, they may not match the names the spyware-writers use.

CoolWebSearch - a group of programs that install through "holes" found in Internet Explorer. These programs direct traffic to advertisements on Web sites including This spyware nuisance displays pop-up ads, rewrites search engine results, and alters the computer host file to direct the Domain Name System (DNS) to lookup preselected sites.

Internet Optimizer (a/k/a DyFuCa), likes to redirect Internet Explorer error pages to advertisements. When the user follows the broken link or enters an erroneous URL, a page of advertisements pop up.

180 Solutions reports extensive information to advertisers about the Web sites which you visit. It also alters HTTP requests for affiliate advertisements linked from a Web site. Therefore the 180 Solutions Company makes an unearned profit off of the click through advertisements they’ve altered.

HuntBar (a/k/a WinTools) or Adware.Websearch, is distributed by Traffic Syndicate and is installed by ActiveX drive-by downloading at affiliate websites or by advertisements displayed by other spyware programs. It’s a prime example of how spyware can install more spyware.

These programs will add toolbars to Internet Explorer, track a user's browsing behaviors, and display advertisements.

How to prevent spyware?

There are a couple things you can do to prevent spyware from infecting your computer system.

* invest in a reliable commercial anti-spyware program. There are several currently on the market including stand alone software packages such as Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware or Windows Antispyware. Other options provide the anti-spyware software as part of an anti-virus package. This type of option is offered by companies such as Sophos, Symantec, and McAfee. Anti-spyware programs can combat spyware by providing real-time protection, scanning, and removal of any found spyware software.

* you should update your anti virus software frequently. As already mentioned, the Internet Explorer (IE) is often a contributor to the spyware problem because spyware programs like to attach themselves to its functionality. Spyware enjoys penetrating the IE’s weaknesses. Because of this, many users have switched to non-IE browsers. However, if you prefer to stick with Internet Explorer, be sure to update the security patches regularly, and only download programs from reputable sources. This will help reduce your chances of a spyware infiltration. .

And, when all else fails?

Finally, if your computer has been infected with a large number of spyware programs, the only solution you may have is backing up your data, and performing a complete re-install of the operating system.

Not something one wants to think about, for sure, but sometimes it is the only way to get rid of malicious programs.

Secure Your PC - Bare Basics

Securing Your Computer System Today is more than a necessity! As more people use their computers for everything from online chatting - to online banking, investing and shopping, sheer number of electronic data being passed to and fro is staggering.

While online interactions and money-transfering, product and service orders become regular activities, hackers, attachers and crackers are never without people - and computers - to practice their skills on.

While some may be looking to phish your personal information and identity for resale, others simply just want to use your computer (your computer's resources and internet connection) as a platform for attacking other unknowing targets.

Below are a few easy, cost-effective steps you can take to make your computer more secure.

Always make backup copies of important information and store these in a safe placel - that means - separate from your computer!

Update and patch your operating system, web browser and software frequently.

If you have a Windows operating system, start by going to
and run the update wizard.
This program will help you find the latest patches for your Windows computer.

Also, go to
to locate possible patches for your Office programs.

Install a firewall. Without a good firewall, viruses, worms, Trojans, malware and adware can all easily access your computer from the Internet. Consideration should be given to the benefits and differences between hardware and software based firewall programs.

Review your browser and email settings for optimum security.

Why should you do this?

Active-X and JavaScript are often used by hackers to plant malicious programs into your computers. While cookies are relatively harmless in terms of security concerns, they do still track your movements on the Internet to build a profile of you. As a minimum precautions, set your security setting for the "internet zone" to High, and your "trusted sites zone" to Medium Low.

Install antivirus software and set for automatic updates. This way, you'll receive the most current versions.

Do not open unknown email attachments. It is simply not enough that you may recognize the address from which it originates because many viruses can spread from a familiar address.

Do not run programs from unknown origins.

Also, do not send these types of programs to friends and coworkers!!! They contain funny or amusing stories or jokes, but may also contain a Trojans horse waiting to infect a computer.

Disable hidden filename extensions. By default, the Windows operating system is set to "hide file extensions for known file types". Disable this option so that file extensions display in Windows. Some file extensions will, by default, continue to remain hidden, but you are more likely to see any unusual file extensions that do not belong.

Turn off your computer and disconnect from the network when not using the computer. A hacker can not attack your computer when you are disconnected from the network or the computer is off. Consider making a boot disk on a floppy disk in case your computer is damaged or compromised by a malicious program. Obviously, you need to take this step before you experience a hostile breach of your system.

Common Viruses To Watch For

Here are some common viruses that are quite constantly circulating on the internet.

Virus: Trojan.Lodear A Trojan horse that attempts to download remote files. It will inject a .dll file into the EXPLORER.EXE process causing system instability.

Virus: W32(dot)Beagle(dot)CO(at)mm (blogger software kept making a link of the virus name because of the '@' symbol)

A mass-mailing worm that lowers security settings. It can delete security-related registry sub keys and may block access to security-related websites.

Virus: Backdoor.Zagaban
A Trojan horse that allows the compromised computer to be used as a covert proxy and which may degrade network performance.

Virus: W32/Netsky-P A mass-mailing worm which spreads by emailing itself to addresses produced from files on the local drives.

Virus: W32/Mytob-GH A mass-mailing worm and IRC backdoor Trojan for the Windows platform.
Messages sent by this worm will have the subject chosen randomly from a list including titles such as: Notice of account limitation, Email Account Suspension, Security measures, Members Support, Important Notification.

Virus: W32/Mytob-EX
A mass-mailing worm and IRC backdoor Trojan similar in nature to W32-Mytob-GH. W32/Mytob-EX runs continuously in the background, providing a backdoor server which allows a remote intruder to gain access and control over the computer via IRC channels. This virus spreads by sending itself to email attachments harvested from your email addresses.

Virus: W32/Mytob-AS, Mytob-BE, Mytob-C, and Mytob-ER This family of worm variations possesses similar characteristics in terms of what they can do. They are mass-mailing worms with backdoor functionality that can be controlled through the Internet Relay Chat (IRC) network. Additionally, they can spread through email and through various operating system vulnerabilities such as the LSASS (MS04-011).

Virus: Zafi-D A mass mailing worm and a peer-to-peer worm which copies itself to the Windows system folder with the filename Norton Update.exe. It can then create a number of files in the Windows system folder with filenames consisting of 8 random characters and a DLL extension. W32/Zafi-D copies itself to folders with names containing share, upload, or music as ICQ 2005a new!.exe or winamp 5.7 new!.exe. W32/Zafi-D will also display a fake error message box with the caption "CRC: 04F6Bh" and the text "Error in packed file!".

Virus: W32/Netsky-DA mass-mailing worm with IRC backdoor functionality which can also infect computers vulnerable to the LSASS (MS04-011) exploit.

Virus: W32/Zafi-B A peer-to-peer (P2P) and email worm that will copy itself to the Windows system folder as a randomly named EXE file. This worm will test for the presence of an internet connection by attempting to connect to or A bilingual, worm with an attached Hungarian political text message box which translates to "We demand that the government accommodates the homeless, tightens up the penal code and VOTES FOR THE DEATH PENALTY to cut down the increasing crime. Jun. 2004, Pécs (SNAF Team)"

This is a very small, incomplete list. If you have been having some problems with your computer but haven't yet checked out why your computer is running slow, showing error messages and display other virus-related problems, please - run anti-virus software's scan just to make sure you haven't picked up a virus, worm, or other malware!

Also - update your software often! Many anti-virus programs can help you detect and clean your computer - but no program will help you if you're not doing regular scans and updates.