Foundations of Computer Maintenance
There are countless computer issues that can wreak havoc at a moment’s notice. What I have learned over the years is that many of these issues can be traced back to only a handful of causes and totally prevented in most cases.
I will refer to these core solutions as the Foundations of Computer Maintenance. Immediately putting these Foundations into place will solve or completely prevent computer disasters. These Foundations are Power, Security and Data Backup.
In this 3 part series I will detail each of the Foundations and outline a good, better and best method that any user can implement to avoid common computer problems.
Part 2: Security
In Part 1 of this series we covered Power (read here if you missed it). In this section we’ll cover security and give you some alternatives you can implement right away.
Computer security is a very broad term with many detailed components. I will only focus on security software as a component of the computer maintenance foundation. With regard to physical security, it’s pretty much common sense to not allow anyone you don’t know access to your computer. It’s also a good idea and highly recommended to have a password protected user account (login).
Another component to physical security is a hardware firewall. This is built into the router and can be configured in a variety of ways. If you are interested in router firewall configuration detailed instructions for your router brand can be found online.
Security Software, often referred to as anti-virus or internet security software ideally should keep you safe from all on-line threats. However, as you may already know, this is hardly the case. In the past these online threats were classified into groups like viruses, adware, spyware, etc. Now all these threats are considered malware or malicious software and these threats evolve much faster than any security software.
Actually, security software must identify an active online threat in order to create a “signature” used to detect that specific type of threat in the future. Security software companies are always working on these signatures and provide updates daily or multiple times a day. The program running on your computer then updates its signature database in order to detect emerging threats. That is why the bad guys writing malicious software are always a couple steps ahead of the security software companies.
There are some great free antivirus products that I will get to in a bit, but in order to get maximum protection like firewall software and extra components you need to upgrade and pay for an internet security product. These extra components consist of things like identity protection, web site search verification, backup, etc.
The firewall component is the most important extra piece. Essentially the software firewall will block many common ports that can be used to access your computer or send data out of your computer. In a way it attempts to “hide” your computer by not making it accessible on the network for specific programs, services and protocols.
The vast majority of all new malicious software is designed to trick the user in very specific ways. The best way to protect yourself and your computer from these threats is to understand this and not be fooled by these tactics.
For instance, if a small piece of malware loads on your computer it is very likely it will try to scare you into taking an action. It will look very convincing and tell you something to the effect that is a major problem with your computer and have to take some type of action to fix the problem. Of course, the action does not fix the issue and in many cases will make the problem worse. No legitimate company will pop up out of nowhere telling you of problems and asking you to take an action to resolve them.
Another very common type of online threat now are pop-ups asking you to call a phone number in order to fix a problem with your computer. Do not call the number! It’s a scam. Again no legitimate company will try to get you to call in order to have a problem fixed. It’s now becoming more important to know what not to do in order to keep yourself protected from online threats.
When looking for the security package that’s right for you the main points to consider are price, speed of deployment and detection rates. Most major companies have very good detection rates. The main thing to consider is speed of deployment or will the security software slow down your computer. You can read many different comparisons and talk with many different people and you will get many different suggestions. I’ve outlined my suggestions below.
The best free antivirus providers currently are AVG and AVAST. Both of these products offer quite a lot of features for a free solution. However, they will constantly ask you to upgrade to paid versions.
ESET is a company that not many people have heard of, but they’ve been around for many years. ESET Antivirus has an extremely small “footprint” meaning it won’t slow down your computer very much like other “bulky” programs. It also has some very impressive threat detection and removal properties. It’s also very reasonable at around $40/year.
Norton Security and ESET Smart Security are the best full solution packages you can get if you want firewall, anti-spam and additional features. Norton has had a bad reputation in the past for being a slow bulky program, but they’ve made enormous improvements in the last few years. Norton Security is very fast and has great detection rates. ESET Smart Security is a great addition to their anti-virus product and has a simple yet powerful firewall application and an anti-theft feature.
Keep in mind no security software out there is 100% effective, but if you have a good up to date program and avoid malicious downloads and toolbars and fake security programs you will stay safe online and have less issues with your computer.