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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

PostHeaderIcon Security In Windows

security_center     In today's connected world, Pc security is a major concern. Keep your data safe with these tips.

1.  What's Phishing?

Phishing is a confidence trick. It involves sending a fraudulent email, supposedly from an organization that might have access to your financial details. the email asks for confirmation of account details, often forwarding you to a convincing looking web site to harvest your details.

2.  Avoiding It

Avoid emails with forms in the body of the message, as it’s difficult to verify where the data will be sent to. It helps to avoid HTML email completely or make use of the picture blocking feature in the latest versions of Outlook and Outlook Express.

3.  What To Look For

When you receive an email, remember that the sender information may be fake, as could any URLs quoted in the email. Be particularly suspicious if there is a note of urgency in the email or a threat to close your account. Never follow links in commercial email that you suspect.

4.  Latest Scams

Head to This is a site that indexes recent phishing scams. You can look for your mail here or subscribe to the RSS feeds to stay up to date with the latest warnings. You can also report suspected phishing attempts here.

5.  Commercial Help

Some commercial sites provide information and help for people who have received phishing emails. eBay provides a tutorial at,   and it provides a service for reporting phishing attempts.

6.  Direct Access

If you receive an email from a company that contains a link, avoid clicking it. Instead, type the URL for the site you want to check directly into the address bar. This will take you directly to the site instead of wherever the phishing email intended to redirect you.

7.  Cookies

cookies are small files stored on your PC by web sites usually so that their site can identify you quickly. While this may be desirable at times, saving you log in procedures for example, cookies can report your browsing habits to their host sites for marketing or other unpleasant purposes.

8.  IE Cookie Control

In Internet Explorer, select Tools > Internet Options > Privacy tab. Now move the slider to the level of protection you want. The highest blocks all cookies.

9.  Exceptions

If you choose the highest level, you will need to create exceptions for the sites for which you want to enable cookies. Click Edit, type in the sites URL and click Allow > OK and Apply.

10.  Privacy Policies

The Platform for   Privacy Preferences (P3P) is a standard format of web sites to cite their privacy policy. If a site has a P3P privacy policy, Internet Explorer can display it.

11.  View Policy

To view such a policy, click View > Privacy Report, select the site you want to see from the list and click Summary. IE downloads the report for you to read.

12.  Privacy Clash

If your privacy settings differ to those cited in a web site’s privacy policy, Internet Explorer displays an icon that looks like an eye next to a no entry sign. This shows that cookies have been blocked and therefore you may not have full access to the site’s functions. Double-click the icon to see the site’s privacy report.

13.  Beware Trojans

Even software that passes a virus scan can be dangerous. Some programs appear to have a useful function, but hide malicious content which is designed to trigger at a certain date or when you perform a certain action. Such programs are called Trojans, as they use a similar technique to the successful Greek battle plan of legends.

14.  Spot A Trojan

It’s hard to spot a program that hides a Trojan. The best way is to scan for it using a program like the free SwatIt from It scans your PC in a similar way to a virus checker, looking for known Trojans. Just like an anti virus you must keep its database updated.

15.  Spies Like Us

Even if a downloaded program doesn’t contain a Trojan and has passed a virus scan, it could still be bad news. Many applications contain spyware, code that collects data on you and your browsing habits, occasionally passing the information back to its paymasters.

16.  Certificates

These help you identify who created a web site or an element of a website. Content protected by a certificate should be safe, provided the certificate is valid. Choose Tools > Internet Options > Content tab > Certificates to see the current list on your PC.

17.  Security Zones

In Internet Explorer click Tools  Internet Options > Security and choose one of the four zones. Click Default Level to see what security level is in force for this zone.

18.  Adjust Security

Flick through the other three zones, adjusting the security level for each as you wish. High gives least functionality, but is most secure, Low allows all active content to run, but is least safe.

19.  Add Sites

Now add sites to each zone by clicking the sites button, typing the relevant URL and clicking Add. Repeat for each zone, although the settings for Intranet are different as they include sites available on the local LAN.

20.  Virus Warnings

You’ve probably received emails telling you about the latest virus, urging you to warn everyone about it by forwarding the mail. Such warnings are fake 99% of the time. Don’t forward them. Go to to learn about virus hoaxes or check the virus encyclopaedia at to verify them.

21.  Windows Firewall

Windows comes with a built in firewall, as part of its security center which is enabled by default. Check that it’s on by choosing Start > Control Panel > Security Center > Windows Firewall.

22.  Automatic Updates

While your in the Security Center make sure that Automatic Updates are enabled to always to receive critical security updates.

23.  Rely On Windows?

The Windows Firewall is better than not having one installed at all, but it does have its limitations. There is not much room for user configuration and no protection against Trojans and other spyware dialling home from your PC.

24.  Free Firewall

The free edition of ZoneAlarm  ( is well worth installing as it makes your PC invisible on the net.

25.  ZoneAlarm Alerts

When you have ZoneAlarm running, you’ll be alerted every time someone attempts to access your PC. You may be surprised at the frequency of the attacks which goes to show how often certain IP addresses are singled out for port scans.

26.  Stop Alerts

Click “Do not show this alert again” to stop ZoneAlarm’s messages appearing. Your PC will still be protected, however.

27.  Monitoring

Each time a program tries to access the Internet, ZoneAlarm will tell you. You can check the box to remember your answer for most common programs, so you aren’t bothered by repeated warnings.

28.  Scan For Spyware

There are several spyware removal programs, but Spybot S&D is free and well regarded. Get it from

29.  Search & Destroy

After updating the program, click Search and Destroy. Click Check for problems. Once complete you’ll see a list of identified spyware. Uncheck any items that you don’t want to remove. Click Fix Selected Problems.

30.  Immunise

In the left hand pane, click Immunise. This blocks known bad products including spyware sites and browser helper objects on the Spybot blacklist. Check Enable permanent blocking of bad addresses in Internet Explorer.

31.  Real-Time

It’s safe to run more than one anti-spyware tool. so install Windows Defender alongside Spybot to give real-time protection.

32.  Stay Safe

Prevention is better than the cure, so avoid viruses and Trojans by deleting suspicious looking emails and steering clear of dodgy websites.

33.  Password Protection Tips

Make sure all passwords are a mixture of numbers and letters of upper and lower case and are over six characters long.

Don’t email passwords to anyone – even support staff as email is not secure.

Change your passwords every few months to lessen the chance of them being cracked.

To help you create good passwords, use a random generator like the Winguides generator (

Any active content on web pages, including ActiveX components, Java and JavaScript can potentially contain malicious code, Use security zones to restrict suspected sites.

Think twice before installing unsigned ActiveX components. They can be particularly harmful.

Visit for Internet Explorer news and updates.

Clear your temporary files in Internet Explorer by clicking Tools > Internet Options > General > Delete Cookies and Delete Files.

34.  Don’t Get Ripped Off

When buying online, check that you’ve been routed to a secure server before entering  card details.

Secure pages show https:// at the start of the address rather than http://. You’ll also see a locked icon at the bottom of your browser.

Always check your credit card statements paying particular attention to Internet transactions.

Don’t use a debit card online. They don’t carry the same protection that credit cards do.

Anything that offers you the chance to get rich quickly or get something for nothing is a scam.

35.  A Secure Desktop

Take a quick trip around your desktop. Have you got any documents or data files saved to the desktop that contain sensitive data? Have you securely deleted any such files? Is your virus scanner up to date? Do you have programs to scan for Trojans, Spyware or adware? Are these up to date? Is your firewall up and running? When did you last update all your main applications? Run through this checklist every couple of weeks to make sure your PC is safe.


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Thank you for commenting on my blog, if you leave your URL somewhere in your comment i will visit your blog and leave a comment as well, cheers Shane.

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