Condoms for Your PC
Well, maybe you won’t really put a condom on your PC, but what you do need is good protection. Today, that means a firewall, an anti-virus product, and an anti-spyware product. You need to have them in place and you need to keep them up-to-date. For anti-virus and anti-spyware products, keeping them both up-to-date is nearly as important as frequent scanning with them.
Since we don’t know what new viruses and spyware are lurking until they are created, the companies with anti-virus and anti-spyware products are always behind those who create malware.
Only when a new malware item appears, can we get updates to prevent it from getting on our PCs or to remove it once it is there.
What else can we do to have a safe PC? There is a lot we can do. Let’s examine some categories:
ACCOUNTS – Use an account that does NOT have administrative privileges. That way, if someone breaks into your PC, there is some damage control. Also, avoid the use of the account names which are created by default. Those are “administrator” and “guest.” Consider one account with administrative privileges for when you need to have those privileges, but use another account that does not have administrative privileges for your normal work.
PASSWORDS – Use passwords that give you protection. Try to make them 6-8 characters in length with a combination of letters (upper and lower case) and numbers. Avoid names of family, friends, and pets. Consider a trick like the first letter of each word of a sentence. It will NOT spell a word. For example, the first letter of each word of this sentence, “Read this first article on save PC,” would result in the password of “RtfaosP.” It is not a word, it is a reasonable length, difficult to guess, but easy to remember.
DISK CLEANUP – While not a virus or spyware prevention tool, this MS Windows utility can reclaim available disk space from the recycle bin, temporary files, and deleted files. With regular use, this utility can keep more disk space available.
DISK DEFRAGMENTATION – This MS Windows utility can reorganize disk space to put related files together for faster access. As files are written to disk space, they may not fit one-after-the-other. When that happens, the files are “fragmented.” The defragmentation process moves files in an effort to put related files next to each other. That means that more data that you want for a particular file can be read at once – translating into better performance. The first time that this utility is run, the disk space probably will be badly fragmented and the process will take a long time. When the disk space is kept in better order, the process will take little time.
MICROSOFT CRITICAL PATCHES -To keep up-to-date with the “critical patches” for an operating system from Microsoft is not so simple as it would seem. Microsoft offers two choices: 1) use an automated update that will send the “critical patches” when they are released, or 2) do a The larger issue, however, is that you give up control of what patches will be installed. Whatever is released for your system will be installed. That may create problems because some “critical patches” may cause parts of your system to not work correctly. It becomes a difficult decision: keep PCs up-to-date with all available “critical patches” and risk a situation where PCs may fail to function, or do NOT install “critical patches” immediately and risk a situation where worms/viruses infect not only some PCs but have the potential for spreading the problems. If you choose to do a manual update, how can you be assured that all PCs are updated on a timely basis? The choice seems to be in favor of the automated update from Microsoft.
ANTI-VIRUS UPDATE AND SCAN – All of us who use PCs these days are aware of the need for anti-virus software. Most PCs are sold with a choice of anti-virus software already installed. What is not so apparent to users of PCs, however, is the need for repeated updates of the anti-virus software. Whether the updates are “free” or via a paid subscription, they are critical to the proper function of the anti-virus software. If you run an anti-virus scan, it is only as good as the last update that was made to it before you initiated the scan. Anti-virus software, generally, is behind the 8-ball on worms & viruses. Until a new worm or virus is released, it is difficult to know how to defend against it. So, if you last updated your anti-virus software on January 1st, a new virus was released on January 5th, and you are running a scan on January 10th, your anti-virus software will not be prepared to trap the new virus, which was created after your latest anti-virus update. Good maintenance management should run frequent (daily is recommended) anti-virus scan, which are always preceded by a search for possible updates.
ANTI-SPYWARE UPDATE AND SCAN – Even newer to a safe PC is anti-spyware software. Most PCs are now sold with anti-spyware software. As with anti-virus software, whether the updates are “free” or via a paid subscription, they are critical to the proper function of the anti-spyware software. Good maintenance management should run frequent (daily is recommended) anti-spyware scans, which are always preceded by a search for possible updates.
GOOD MAINTENANCE MANAGEMENT HOW TO’s – Microsoft “Critical Patches” can be set to run at a given time each day. Anti-virus software can be scheduled for updates and scans. It may also have a “live” update option. Anti-spyware can be scheduled for updates and scans. You can set the PC to prompt each month for a new password. You may wish to create a script that runs the individual utilities and that, itself, is scheduled to run at a given time each day.
NEXT STEPS – When you operate a PC, you need to believe that you can it as a tool without spending your own time to do maintenance. You need maintenance management that can handle that for you. As a support function, IT professionals need to explain what you should expect, what they are doing to pro-actively avoid problems, and what you should do when a problem occurs despite everyone’s efforts. IT professionals should try to minimize the impact of their approaches on you. You have at your disposal a number of products to supplement the Microsoft operating system and tools. There are disk defragmenters, anti-virus, anti-spyware, firewall, and scheduling products. You can write scripts to be run by the system scheduler.
How do you solve these problems? What products do you use and recommend? What would make your life easier?
Incorporate as much PC maintenance and control as possible without hindering your PC operations. That is “Intelligent Maintenance Management” for a safe PC
Copyright, 2006 by Tim Flynt. All rights reserved.