2015 Computer Security Summary

Computer Security    by Don Trauger – Kennett
(Updated on website 2/23/2015)

Malware (malicious software) is an umbrella term for all sorts of infections including viruses, trojans, worms, keyloggers, etc. Escaping a malware infection over the life span of your computer is virtually impossible. Don’t confuse normal updates from Microsoft, Adobe, or Oracle (Java) and others with unwanted programs that invade and often take over your computer. Legitimate updates are vital to your security so allow them to install. If you do on-line banking it’s most important that your computer runs at a high security level. Read on to make your computer secure. 

Become familiar with your Anti-Virus (A/V) program. Don’t ignore it just because you have one installed. All A/V programs should update automatically when you have an Internet connection. Open the A/V program you have installed to make sure the updates are actually current. If your A/V program is subscription based, make sure it is still active. A/V programs are virtually worthless if they are not up to date.  

I’ve researched the latest field of free anti-virus programs and have decided Bitdefender is the best choice. Why a free Anti-virus program? Simply because Bitdefender ranks among the top in protection and the program code works well with XP. I also recommend it for newer operating systems such as Windows Vista, 7 & 8. In a recent test by an independent security company, Bitdefender had an 82% detection rate. Avast measured 79%. The highest was a paid-for brand at 84%.  If you want to change to Bitdefender here’s what you need to do. Go to the Bitdefender web site (http://www.bitdefender.com/solutions/free.html) to download this free version.

 If you have an outdated A/V program you can get a free one (non-subscription based) at http://www.filehippo.com/  

 Click on View More and also download Malwarebytes. Malwarebytes which can work with any A/V program and complements its performance. The combination of these programs will provide superior results compared to a single A/V program. Once you have determined that your A/V program is current, perform a manual scan. If you have never done this, do a full scan. I recommend a quick scan at least every 2 weeks and a full scan whenever something is detected during a quick scan. Scanning is very important as malware can sneak in and by-pass the protection. If your A/V program performs the scanning task automatically you should review the log file or the Quarantine or Virus Chest area to see what it found. 

An Adware Protection program should also be considered.  It is a program that searches for and deletes Adware, Toolbars, Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUP), and browser Hijackers from your computer.  AdwCleaner is another free malware cleanup program that can be utilized should your computer become infected. Of course if you have previously installed my recommendation of Malwarebytes, you may not need AdwCleaner. However, I have seen  several cases and have been told by another user that AdwCleaner removed some malware that Malwarebytes did not detect.

My three free security recommendations therefore are Malwarebytes, Bitdfender Anti-Virus and AdwCleaner.

            AdwCleaner can be download from: https://toolslib.net/downloads/viewdownload/1-adwcleaner/

            Malwarebytes can be downloaded from: http://www.malwarebytes.org/

            Bitdefender can be downloaded from: http://www.bitdefender.com/solutions/free.html

 Some infections may disable your A/V program and that’s when serious trouble begins.  If using XP, Vista, or Win 7, you can use Safe Mode to open your A/V program to run a full scan. Safe Mode is a Windows diagnostic mode that can help rid your computer of malware. To enter Safe Mode reboot the computer and hold down the F8 key for about a second, then release it for a second or so. Keep doing this until you see a Startup Menu or Advanced Boot Options. Select Safe Mode with Networking and press the Enter key. No mouse is available in this area so use the arrow keys on the keyboard. 

 If you have problems running a scan in Safe Mode, try an on-line scanner. These scanners are provided by a few of the major A/V companies. A good one from Eset can be run from http://www.eset.com/us/online-scanner/ Another from F-Secure at http://www.f-secure.com/en/web/home_global/online-scanner is also good. 

 Discussion about computer security and other topics is available to all HM residents at the PC Club meetings. Meetings are held on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 7:00 PM in the upstairs Ardmore room of the Community Center.