Be your own IT Department
By: Scott Hendison   ·   Originally Published: April 2004

To own a computer today, you need to know more than just how to use your favorite software. You need to know that you are protected. If there is someone responsible for the computers in your home or office, make sure they read this and can assure you it’s all getting done.

AntiVirus
This should go without saying, but I still run into computers with expired Antivirus software quite often. Antivirus software needs to be updated daily, and paid for yearly. If you haven’t paid for a subscription, then you don’t have current Antivirus Software.

If that’s the case, yet you still continue to use the Internet, then I’d bet one in three of you currently has a virus. I’ve seen computers become so virus or Trojan infected, that they are running pornographic websites or sending spam email messages without the owner even knowing! Every month, someone should verify that your installed AV Software is updating automatically, running current virus definitions, and is still on a current subscription.

Spyware
Spyware is EVIL software that is getting worse every day. If you have not run spyware removal software lately then you have some on your system. It’s that simple. For a complete Spyware article, visit www.pdxtc.com/spyware

For you to remove the Spyware, you must run an updated version of AdAware at least once a month. When I service my clients monthly, I use Spybot (available from http://safer-networking.org) but AdAware (from www.lavasoftusa.com) is easier for most people to figure out.

Windows Updates
Practically every week or two, Microsoft discovers and repairs flaws in their Windows Operating System. These “fixes” or “patches” are available for free at their website, yet the majority of computers I run across have not updated their Windows.
With the advent of broadband internet, this has become increasingly important both for security and functionality of your computers.

In Windows XP, you can schedule this to happen automatically in the Properties of My Computer. For other Windows versions you can (and should) update your Windows on a monthly basis at http://www.windowsupdate.com

Startup
There are dozens of software programs that can start up when windows loads, slowing your computer to a crawl. These are usually apparent in the task bar by your clock. By using the Windows utility called msconfig, you can manage your startup items. Go to Start – run and type msconfig – then press Enter. Go to the Startup tab and you’ll see the choices. For a full article about this subject, go to www.pdxtc.com/msconfig. For a REALLY easy and free startup manager, and one that acts as a "watchdog" against rougue spyware and startup programs, I strongly recommend installing Winpatrol, from http://www.winpatrol.com


Firewall
A Firewall keeps people out of your computer from the outside. Spyware and Trojan horse viruses make it easier for hackers to get into your computers, but even when your system is clean, the risk of attack is there. In 2004, if you’re on broadband internet, you need a firewall, or at the very least, a password protected router.

On a monthly basis, you need to be sure that your firewall, whether (software or hardware) is both turned on, and current. I can’t tell you the number of times I find it intentionally disabled, with no malicious intent, but unprotected nonetheless. More knowledgeable users should review the logs for any abnormal activities.

These things above are not difficult, but they take time. I have clients that have me come in once a month to do all of this and more on their computers because they know how important it can be. Take it from a professional…If you do these things yourself on a monthly basis, your computers will not only be more secure, but they’ll run faster and have fewer problems…I guarantee it.

 

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Scott Hendison hereby grants reprint rights for all of his own articles on this website providing that the following italicized lines (with the live link) are included as a byline:

 

Scott Hendison is a computer & internet consultant based in Portland Oregon. He specializes in search engine placement, internet marketing, and Retail Point of Sale (POS) systems with e-commerce, for customers in five countries. for more information, visit his website is http://www.pdxtc.com.

 

Need more info?-

Scott is the owner/operator of Portland Technology Consultants, providing computer and internet consulting services to local Portland Oregon businesses, and over the internet in five countries. He is a member of the Independent Computer Consultants Association and is on the Board of Directors for the Oregon Computer Consultants Association.

He is also on the Board of the Gateway Area Business Association and an active member of the East Portland Chamber of Commerce. His website is filled with nearly 100 computer & technology related, articles like this one, and he has a daily blog here. If you'd like to know more, please visit the main page at http://www.pdxtc.com, or call him at 503.946.6881.

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