Top 10 tips to keep that new computer spyware-free

Top 10 tips to keep that new computer spyware-free

Summary: Got a new computer for Christmas? Are you worried about all the spyware horror stories you've read?

TOPICS: Security

Got a new computer for Christmas? Are you worried about all the spyware horror stories you've read? You should be. I've heard varying numbers, but it's said that putting an unprotected computer on a high-speed connection results in getting infected within a few minutes. I just read that the time is getting longer, but that's not much comfort. By all means you should have a router if you're on a high speed connection. A router provides some protection, but is only the beginning. Ok, now the new machine is booted up the first time and ready to go. It's on the net. In this order, here's what to do.

1.  Update Windows immediately. In the Windows Security Center in the Control Panel turn on automatic download and installation for updates. Unless the computer came with a third party security suite or firewall, turn on the Windows XP firewall.

2.  Update the pre-installed antivirus definitions and other security apps. Set them to auto update.

3.  Download and install an alternative browser like Firefox or Opera.

4.  Lockdown Internet Explorer. Yes, do it even if you use a different browser.

5.  Install at least two anti-spyware apps. My top two recommended free apps are Ad-Aware and Microsoft AntiSpyware. Update definitions for both and turn on active protection in Microsoft AntiSpyware.

6.  Install some free protective programs like SpywareBlaster and SpywareGuard from Javacool Software.

7.  Install IE-SPYAD, which puts nearly 20,000 known dangerous domains in IE's restricted site zone.

8.  Install a HOSTS file from here or here.

9.  Educate yourself on how to not become infected in the first place.

10. Surf safe and practice safe hex.

Topic: Security

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  • I bought a new computer recently

    It's a laptop, I simply removed the MS Windows OS and installed Mandriva Linux 2006. That solved all of my spyware problems. In addition it solved my virus problems, and my adware problems. I do, as you suggested us Mozilla Firefox, and occasionally Konqueror.
    tracy anne
    • Another way

      The other way is using a program such as VM ware to create a virtual machine.
      Arnout Groen
      • VMware

        I've tried it. As far as I'm concerned it merely complcates matters. The replacement of MS Windows with Mandriva Linux means that I do it once and that's it, no more worries.
        tracy anne
        • minor thing

          "I do it once and that's it, no more worries."

          what if you mess up. I do hope you have a back up available.

          BTW.. what is the best version of Linux to start with if you have no experience with it. (only Novell and M$)
          Arnout Groen
          • "Best Version"

            [i]what is the best version of Linux to start with if you have no experience with it. (only Novell and M$)[/i]

            Tastes and needs vary, so you're going to get different answers. Since one of those "different answers" may someday be yours, it's only right.

            The most common choices are Mandriva and Novell (SuSE). Some will say wonderful things about Ubuntu or Kubuntu; I haven't tried them and can't comment. Me, I use Gentoo and wouldn't dream of suggesting it to a newbit (although anyone who can follow directions carefully can set it up, it's intimidating.)

            All that said, I'd still suggest that a newbie start with Knoppix -- it's a [b]great[/b] tool even for diehard Microsoft users, and it doesn't touch your hard drive unless you explicitly tell it to. Great way to fool around safely.
            Yagotta B. Kidding
          • Yep, totally subjective

            I'd say Ubuntu. They have a live CD just like Knoppix, but it obviously runs much faster when you install it on your hard drive.

            I'm getting bored with Gentoo. Also a little frustrated. I use it on a headless server, and last night 'emerge --sync && emerge-uD world' installed Xorg (it wasn't there before, wasn't necessary). I wasn't too happy about that. I've been considering something else for a while now anyway. Possibly BSD on the server...
            Real World
          • M$!=Linux

            "BTW.. what is the best version of Linux to start with if you have no experience with it. (only Novell and M$)"

            M$ is NOT a Linux distributor. If you meant M$-like Linux distributions, Linspire or Xandros are good choices, but I would only recommend them for users who just surf the Web, IM, or type up office docs and nothing else. I would rather recommend Suse or Ubuntu for neophyte Linux hackers.
            Tony Agudo
          • what if you mess up.

            I'm sorry I don't understand the question.

            quote::BTW.. what is the best version of Linux to start with if you have no experience with it.::quote

            A lot of people recomend Xandros, I know someone who started with SuSE 9.2 and a support contract with Novell, personally I can't fault Mandriva with the KDE desktop.
            tracy anne
          • Addition for tracyanne, Rafterman (and everybody else...

            Sorry for the confusion and the lack of information, but I meant the following..

            The only experience I have with networking and system configuration is with M$ and Novell. These programs are most common in use, but Linux is the runner up in the long time run.

            And yes Rafterman, i do know that M$ is not a reseller of Linux, FOR NOW ;-).

            From a professional point of view (I'm a
            software & hardware tester)I want to be able to make a comparisson and give a proper advice to customers (they're the ones who pay may salary).

            To do my job, i have recently bought components to build a computer according to my specs.. Which currently has the following OS's: XP sp2, Win 2003 and ? (a linux version), each installed on a separate drive (except for the linux part, which i don't have).
            Arnout Groen
          • except for the linux part, which i don't have

            In some respects the Linux distribution that you select will depend on the hardware. And possibly you may need to locate hardware that can be guaranteed to support Linux.

            That cavaete aside, I haven't had many hardware issues, that weren't relatively easily solved.

            I use, and generally recomend Mandriva (they used to be called Mandrake), I've been using it since version 8.2 because it worked on all the hardware I tried it on. I use, and prefer, the KDE desktop, originally because it was the most like the MS Windows Desktop.

            I've tried Xandros, I installed it for my partner, so that she could learn to use a computer. I have found that Xandros seems to work on any hardware I use it with. I don't like the System admin tools that come with Xandros, I personally think they let it down.

            A friend of mine uses SuSE, and Yast, the system administration tool, is a very powerful system admin tool, and inspite of it's unnecessary complexity is probably better than Mandriva Control Centre on my machines. She purchased 9.2 and installed it as her first Linux system, she is very happy with it.

            I've tried MEPIS and Kubuntu and Knoppix, and a number of mini distros like Damn Small Linux, but can't really comment on them.

            I have Mandriva 2006 (the latest version) installed on two laptops (an NEC and an ASUS) and and 4 desktops which perform various server duties. I'm very happy with it.

            Finally, I use MS Win XP at work, and I personally think the KDE 3.4 desktop looks sharper, and more professional, and it is definately easier and more friendly to use.
            tracy anne
      • agreed

        VMWare is great, also Virtual PC from Microsoft. You can create a VM, clone it or take a snapshot for surfing the web. Then if that clone or snapshot gets infected, you can delete it and create a new clean one. The drawback is you have get a separate operating system for the virtual machine, which means buying a lincesed copy of whatever OS you use with it.

        It IS possible to run Windows and use Internet Explorer without getting infected. I haven't had a spyware infection in over 2 years, except when getting infected for research in VMware.

        Before I got Virtual PC and VMware, I used ShadowUser for malware research.
        • The drawback is you have get a separate operating system for the virtual ma

          That's one of the reasons why I don't like using the Virtual Machine route. Another is, as you mentioned having to reload the image if there is an infection.

          I decided that the easiest way to deal with the problem was to use an OS that doesn't get infected.

          All in all any of the solutions to Viruses and Worms and malware in general that include MS Windows are a bit like building a house of cards, they start to become a bit of a balancing act between what's user friendly, and what's secure, and invariably they introduce, what is for me, unnecessary complexity - in my opinion a good solution to a problem is almost alway the simplest - and in the end all I want to do is use my computer to do things, rather than trying to keep it clean.

          Replacing MS Windows, with Linux, is in my opinion the simplest and most elegant solution. The security is there by default, and there is little more that I need do, other than exercise a little common sense.
          tracy anne
    • Not a solution

      Big deal. So now you run Linux and most spyware won't run on it. A lot of other apps won't run on it either.

      Big Deal!

      -Splekem has spoken
      Jake Danger
      • A lot of other apps won't run on it either.

        Which apps?

        So far I have able to do everything I could do on MS Windows.
        tracy anne
      • have you any experience w/ linux?

        Have you any experience with linux to make that opinion? I have and not only is there loads of apps available for it but there is also a handy thing called WINE. It can enable you to run many, many Windows apps and games with-in linux ( I use it for some apps I already had and was too lazy to learn a new one ).

        Hey B. Gates WINE runs M$ Office 97 & 2000 (haven't tested 2003 yet) :-P
  • Get a Mac

    Is there spyware on Macs? I don't think so. Viruses? Few and far
    between, if ever.
    • *Twitch*

      Go read some of the comments in other threads and see why that comment adds anything...*twitch*
      I'ma need medication I keep reading these things.
    • Not a solution

      There is a lot of software in general that won't run on Macs. Big Deal!

      -Splekem has spoken
      Jake Danger
      • Then no solution exits!

        Not a solution

        There is a lot of software in general that won't run on Wintel either.
        Big Deal!

        I run Windows, Linux, Free BSD, Palm, etc... and OS X on one
        machine all at the same time :)
        -Thus Spoke Zoraster
        • You are wrong...!

          There is a solution.
          Its called Pc Guard.
          There are two versions. Software only (not completely safe)
          Hardware + software combined(very safe)
          I'll look for the web page and gladly post the link if interested.