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Today's Viruses and How To Protect Yourself

A recent study has shown that almost every computer connected to the internet is infected with an average of 19 spyware and/or trojan programs running silently in the background. The owners of these computers are blissfully unaware that their computers are infected in any way.

These programs come in various forms - adware, malicious cookies, browser hijackers, dialers, trojans and worst of all viruses. Viruses present the greatest danger because they are written with malicious intentions - the purpose being to permanently damage the recipients computer.

Trojans can modify .exe files and registry entries, allowing them to mail information unnoticed from the host computer to the person or company controlling the trojan. Contrary to what most people believe you don't need to be a rocket scientist to write them. The first virus that was ever written was a simple happy christmas message written with good intentions and delivered automatically to peoples computers.

The more innocent purpose of these programs is to watch and record your surfing habits, to give the controlling parties a profile of you - thereby making it easier for them to deliver targeted advertising to specific demographic groups. And the more sinister use, well I suppose the skys the limit. Some of these people will stop at nothing in an attempt to make money.

How can you and I protect our computers and our privacy from these prying eyes? The first thing to do is make sure you have all the latest patches and security updates installed on your computer. Next you must have a firewall, I would recommend at least Zone Alarms free program.

The next thing I would suggest you do is go to http://www.security.kolla.de and download Spybot - Search and Destroy written by Patrick M. Kolla. Patrick will allow you to download and use his wonderful program for free, if you are in a position to make a donation I'm sure he would be grateful. Run Spybot and you may be surprised at what it finds.

Once you have run Spybot and removed all the spyware from your computer you will also notice a red button which says innoculate. I suggest you click on this button and let it run. This function will write a HOSTS file to C:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\etc In fact the HOSTS file can give you control over sites you want to allow or deny access to and this file can also be used to speed up your web surfing.

Now you may want to have a look in your registry and see what you have in there. First I must warn you if you want to delete anything from the registry make sure you know what you are doing or you may not have an operating computer anymore. To get an easy to manage report download and run Hijack This - (no longer available). If you see obvious entries with suspicious names like por.ndialer or shopassistant (just made that up :0)) I think you could assume you should be safe to remove them.

If you want to make sure, do a search using Google, once again use your judgement - you will find many experts on the internet who aren't really experts at all. Having said that I think if you find every listing in Google says eg: por.ndialer is a trojan, I would then be satisfied por.ndialer is in fact a trojan and feel confident enough to remove it.

Another tip which is handy to remember - if you find you have a trojan, lets assume it's named harmful.exe, you may find if you simply try to delete it you can't, try to rename it and there it is, still can't delete it. Shut your computer down and reboot it in safe mode, your computer is now running only the bare neccesities and you will find you can now easily send harmful.exe to the recycle bin.

The final program I suggest you download is SpywareBlaster. Once you have your computer clean, this program prevents the installation of ActiveX-based spyware, adware, browser hijackers, dialers, and other unwanted pests, blocks spyware/tracking cookies in Internet Explorer and Mozilla/Firefox. It also restricts the actions of potentially dangerous sites in Internet Explorer.

Of course I expect you do have Anti virus software protection on your computer. If not I suggest you download that too, quickly. If you can't afford to pay for Anti Virus protection, do a search in Google and at least get free software.

Not too hard at all is it? :o)
*Editor's Note: I recommend AVG's free anti virus program.

Copyright 2004 by Kerry Harrington - All rights reserved
About the Author:
Kerry Harrington is the publisher of The Wealth Writer eZine - This interesting weekly eZine is known for it's useful and informative articles, written in a personal style by Kerry. To subscribe by email simply click this mail link... subscribe@wealthwriter.com


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