1 Reply Latest reply on Jul 13, 2009 1:51 AM by secured2k

    How to prevent future infections

    secured2k
      [Note: This is still a work in progress]

      There are three major steps to perform to keep your computer free of infections. When all three are done, the chances of getting a virus or malicious software are greatly reduced.

      1. Use a firewall to protect your computer. Make sure it is working and configured properly.
        There are so many viruses and spam infectors on the internet that you need to have a firewall to protect your computer from being automatically exploited on the internet. At a minimum, use a hardware router or the Windows XP firewall to protect again this problem.
        These firewalls are good at stopping incoming traffic, but what about traffic leaving your computer? In this case, you need a software firewall to make sure if you do run A-Bad-Program.exe that it doesn't freely transmit your data to the bad guys on the internet.

      2. Stay up-to-date with your software!
        Many of the malicious programs on the internet today exploit flaws that have already been fixed by the software authors! However, many people are forgetting to update their computers and software.
        Do not forget about all of the applications on your computer. Even a fully updated Windows installation can be infected if you have an exploitable version of Java installed! Once these programs have been patched, attempts to exploit your system will no longer work.

      3. Use an up-to-date AntiVirus! Remember if it's out-of-date, it's almost as good as no protection at all.
        In the case you do download or visit a site with bad content, the AntiVirus will detect and stop many known and major outbreaks. This protection is based on file detection and may not be able to pick up the newest malicious software so you may also use behavior-based AntiSpyware programs as well.
        • 1. RE: How to prevent future infections
          secured2k
          [SIZE="3"]Secured2k's "Recommended Security Practices" v2[/SIZE]

          There are so many things you could do to ensure your computer is and remains secure. Most everything listed here is free! Here are the highlights:

          • To protect your computer, make sure you follow the steps at the following site:
            4 steps to protect your computer

            It's important to change step 2 to include all key software on your computer, not just the OS. This includes Java, Flash, Acrobat, Firefox, Chrome, WinAmp, and iTunes/QuickTime to name a few.


          • The program "Secunia" is free and will scan your computer for software with security issues and in some cases provide direct download links to the updates. I suggest you download, install, and use this tool.


          • If you don't have an active AntiSpyware utility, the Windows Defender is a great free solution by Microsoft.
            Note: Vista/7 has this built in.


          • McAfee offers a free browser plugin called SiteAdvisor that can help protect you from many websites online that have been found to be malicious.
            Note: Internet Explorer 8 has a similar feature built in.


          • You can scan your computer with the ESET Online scanner and MalwareBytes to make you find most known infections that McAfee might have missed.


          Currently, the biggest attack is on user's trust. Be vigilant about who and what you trust online. I tell many people that before you trust a site with your information, email address, and password, make sure it is legitimate. A quick Google search about the site in question can give many hints about potential issues. Also make sure there is someone accountable for a site. If you can't find an identity that can be held accountable by legal action, that site is probably not worth trusting with ANY of your information.

          Remember: Standard Web sites, emails, and programs can all show you ANYTHING they want including false information. Everything sent online should be considered insecure and public unless it is securely encrypted and authenticated (Ex. https SSL/TLS sites).


          For an even higher level of security...

          • Use a 'limited user' account. This account will not have access to install software, drivers, and hardware. This protects you in the case something bad does get executed on your system. If/when you need to make a system wide change or install new software, you can choose to run the program as an Admin (protected by a password).
            Note: Vista/7 does this with UAC.


          • Use 'Virtualization' technology. It is possible to run some high-risk programs in it's own protected box where it can not actually do any harm to the system outside the box. There is a free program called "Sandboxie" that can do this.
            Note: Vista/7 has this feature built in.


          • HIPS (Host Intrustion Prevention System) - You may find other security software that monitors your system for critical changes and exploits and blocks them. McAfee will do this to some degree but there are some programs that take it even further.
            Note: This is generally not available or needed on 64-bit systems.


          • For public access or family computers, check out hard drive freezing technology like "SteadyState" from Microsoft.


          This brings me to the last but certainly NOT the least important recommendations:

          BackUp Your User-Created Data!
          Do not ever assume your hard drive or system is secure against disaster. The best solution for home users is an online remote backup. McAfee currently offers this service. I recommend a pay service called "Carbonite" for general home users. This way, even if your computer is stolen or in a natural disaster, you can always get your data back. Some might even consider it faster than fixing a massive virus infection as re-installing from scratch can take only a couple hours compared to days or weeks of a "sick" system!

          Encrypt Your Sensitive Data
          This probably only needs to be done on very few files on your system, but in the case someone else got access to your system's hard drive (stolen computer or trojan horse virus), at least they could not steal your file(s) with your personal information in them.
          McAfee offers this kind of protection if needed in the form of File vaults. Other options include whole disk Encryption like TrueCrypt, or BitLocker(Vista/7 Ultimate/Enterprise). Windows 2000-7 all have built in support for encryption but it is not as easily setup as the previously mentioned solutions and is not included on the "Home" versions of the OS.

          Note:
          - Office 2003 and earlier documents that are password protected are not secure. Office 2007 steps up to a secure method of encryption and is secure.
          - ZIPCrypto/WinZip prior to 9.x is not secure. WinZip 9-12's implementation of encryption is not perfect and has weaknesses and should not be considered secure (by my standards).

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