Anti virus software, malicious program scanners and antispyware software can help you to keep the nasties out of your system. But you can play a large role in avoiding viruses and the like. So let’s talk about what to avoid while on the web to stop the bad guys from infesting your computer.
By far the most vulnerable avenue of infection while using a computer is through email. Forwarded email is the worst. (You know it’s forwarded by the FW in the address line) The bad guys know that there are millions of people that forward jokes, quips, recipes, and other emails of interest to millions more of their friends and relatives. So they use a good joke, for instance, attach a link or other nefarious intruder in that email and send it out. People inocently forward such emails out by the millions. These malicious programs can be as simple as redirecting your opening webpage to taking control of your email and contacts altogether or worse. Before long people are getting emails addressed from you without your knowledge. This is sometimes fixed by changing passwords. At times the email must be abandoned altogether. Delete forwarded emails without reading them. Even from people you know.
Occasionally an alert will come up telling you any number of alarming messages like “You’ve Been Infected!” or “Your Data is Being Stolen!”. The message is almost always false. The question is: How do you know if it’s legitimate or not? The following suggestion is useful weather it’s harmful or not?
When you get a suspicious alert DO NOT CLICK ON ANYTHING in the pop up window. Don’t touch a single key or mouse button. Don’t click NO. Don’t click YES. Don’t close the alert window out! Pull the plug on your machine! That’s right. Do Not perform a proper shut down or restart! Proper shutdown is for the purpose of saving current work from RAM memory to permanent storage on the hard drive before turning off. While a computer is turned on most everything being done is in RAM memory until shutdown or save. When a false alert comes up it too is in RAM memory. That means it is living temporarily in RAM memory until shutdown when it will be copied or STORED permanently on the hard drive. Therefore if you pull the plug (or pull the battery on a laptop) to cause an abrupt shutdown you kill EVERYTHING in RAM memory. Everything legitimate is already stored on your hard drive. An abrupt turn off is harmless. If the alert were legitimate it will come up again. If it was fake you have killed it in RAM memory like blowing out a candle. All suspicious activity should be met with an abrupt shut down via pulling the plug.
This method is elegant in its simplicity. But profound in it’s effectiveness. The success feedback from my clients to this procedure is 100%. Scores of customers have told me that the alert never returns. Keep this suggestion in the back of your mind until a virus comes knocking.
Computer Service Calls
Computer repair in Gresham and Portland allows me to resolve my neighbor’s frustration and that is very rewarding. But some repairs never need to happen in the first place. When it comes to computers there are few things more frustrating for basic computer users than to be visited by friends or family that feel compelled to tweak on Mom’s computer.
After family visits I get calls from irritated customers that tell me their well meaning “kids” visited them and made changes to their computer. Whether it’s a different browser, missing or added toolbars, rearranged icons or changed defaults it’s an amazingly common complaint from my clients with adult or near adult children.
Why family wants to mess with dear old dad’s computer is beyond me. But I have included a couple of practical suggestions to limit this problem.
Let’s start with the most aggressive solution first. Just don’t let anyone touch your computer. If you know how to create a password do so and forbid all interlopers on your system. It is true that younger people seem to have more computer knowledge than older ones. But unfortunately their skills seem to rise just high enough to do harm but not to reverse the harm. The wisdom that comes with age teaches us not to start anything if we don’t know how to fix it. But such experimentation is the hallmark of youth and inexperience. Many young people install games or piracy software for downloading free music that will wreak havoc on your computers security. Such intrusions must be forbidden on your computer! I have seen evidence that such downloads secretly occurred then were uninstalled apparently with the assumption that no harm would occur. This assumption is utterly wrong. Dangerous permissions often remain even after uninstalls take place. So no changes should be made even if a promise is made that they will reverse things back to the way they were before.
Older folks love to see their young family members enjoy themselves and don’t want to interrupt such moments with a reminder to not mess with settings or download anything. Total PC denial does resolve the problem but older folks have a soft heart and do not want to be so difficult toward well meaning family. This brings us to my next best suggestion.
Many of my customers have had success from family messing with their computers with one simple instruction. “You are welcome to use my computer but I have a few simple rules. Feel free to check your email or browse but please don’t download anything, or update anything or make any changes without checking with me first.”
Browsing and email are the most common things we do on the internet so no one should feel restricted with those rules. If their intent was to only check email or browse there should be no problems. But your rules will put them on notice that you would disapprove of even well meaning changes.
Finally, I would not let anyone use my computer under the age of 20 without my direct oversight unless I had absolute unwavering trust that they would follow my rules. The combination of high confidence and little experience will cause young ones to set aside your rules because they assume their knowledge can out perform your wisdom. Until they are self aware of the immensity of what they don’t know leaving them alone with your computer is perilous.
Most changes on a computer can be reversed by using the system restore feature on your computer. But this is for more advanced users and should not be employed as a regular way of handing the changes made by family and friends. There are many things that can be done to your computer that a system restore will not correct. But it is a last resort way of correcting some problems.