Of course, pretty much everyone has heard that it's important to have a secure PC.
This forum came into existence in part due to concern over a massive Distributed Denial of Service attack against the anti-spam company Blue Security, whose Blue Frog product was reducing spam levels dramatically. A DDoS involves sending so much bogus traffic to a site that it cannot carry out its normal functions for legitimate users. The attack on Blue Security involved thousands of computers which had been hijacked by criminals, and it did collateral damage to a large number of other well-protected sites.
The episode pointed out the fact that spamming is not merely an annoyance, but a symptom of a much more significant threat to all persons and agencies that rely on the internet. Criminals can wield that type of power only because there are large numbers of internet users who have not taken personal responsibility for securing their machines adequately. Their computers become "zombies," or "bots" on a "botnet," under the control of a "botherder" who rents them out for use by other criminals. Hijacking computers is a very lucrative business.IS YOUR PC A BOT?
Well, we can't answer that from here, but if you are on a high speed internet connection (such as cable or DSL), and you don't run properly configured firewalls and updated anti-virus software, it is highly likely your PC is compromised
.What does this mean?
It means someone else can take complete control of your PC, and use it for illegal purposes. These typically include sending spam, spreading malware (bad programs, like viruses, worms, and trojans), and launching DDoS attacks.What should I do?
First find out what kind of security software you have now. You need an antivirus, and antispyware, and a firewall. You may have one product that does more than one thing. You may have already purchased a product, there may have been a subscription included for the first year with your new computer, or your Internet Service Provider (ISP) may provide one free to keep you from being a hazard to the rest of the planet. Make sure your subscriptions are up to date. Then, for the pieces you don't have:Step 1 - Download and install ONE of the below free antivirus softwares:
Comodo Internet Security (includes firewall but you can choose to install only one)http://www.personalfirewall.comodo.com/ ADD: I have been told that Comodo now is bundled with the Ask Toolbar, a search toolbar with a bad reputation. Unclick the option to install it, and then go to Add/Remove programs and make sure it's not there after installing Comodo.
Keep them updated. (Usually that means an update every day!)Step 2 - Download and install ONE of the below free firewalls
(never run more than one firewall at a time):
Comodo Personal Firewallhttp://www.personalfirewall.comodo.com/ See above comments about Comodo; you can install the firewall only, but you have to download the combination product and unclick what you don't want, including the Ask Toolbar
Webroot Desktop Firewall Freehttp://www.webroot.com/En_US/consumer-p ... ewall.html
Online Armor Personal Firewallhttp://www.tallemu.com/downloads.html
Sygate Personal Firewall Freehttp://www.majorgeeks.com/download3356.htm
Sunbelt Personal Firewallhttp://www.sunbeltsoftware.com/Home-Hom ... -Firewall/
ZoneAlarm Free Firewallhttp://www.zonealarm.com/security/en/zo ... rewall.htm
Last free version of Kerio Free Firewallhttp://www.321download.com/LastFreeware ... 20Firewall
Jetico Personal Firewall v.1http://www.jetico.com/jpfirewall.htm
OutpostPro Firewall http://www.trialpay.com/checkout/?c=licot4&tid=9ahBJOaStep 3 - Download and install one of more of the free sypware detection and removal software
(it is useful to have more than one to get multiple opinions, but only run one at a time):
Spybot Search and Destroy:http://www.safer-networking.org/en/mirrors/index.html
Windows Defenderhttp://www.microsoft.com/windows/produc ... fault.mspxStep 4 - Install Firefox to replace Internet Explorer and install Thunderbird to replace Outlook.
Then make them your default browser and email client. (They will ask if you want to when you first run them.) More malware is written for IE and Outlook, since they hold such a large market share. Also, only Internet Explorer runs ActiveX, an application that malware programs exploit frequently.http://www.mozilla.com/firefox/http://www.mozilla.com/thunderbird/
* The Opera browser is also popular. Its advantage -- it's not widely used, so criminals don't spend a lot of time looking for ways to exploit flaws -- is also a limitation, as it has fewer add-ons available and may be incompatible with more sites than Firefox. But people who use it tend to become big fans:http://www.opera.com/
* For an integrated browser/email application, Mozilla offers Seamonkey, which is similar to Firefox+Thunderbird. Seamonkey 2.0 is still in development. It can do some things Firefox can't, especially with sites that normally only work with Internet Explorer, but it can't do other things Firefox can. You will probably end up using Firefox for some sites as well:http://www.seamonkey-project.org/releas ... nkey2.0a2/
* Safari - This comes with Macintosh computers and also benefits from the "everybody uses Microsoft products so why waste time writing malware for anything else" mentality, but it's not giving Firefox much competition.
Step 6 - Block IE & Outlook from accessing the internet using your firewall. If they ask to access the internet, you know there's something wrong.
Now, once the antivirus is installed, you NEED to do a FULL (thorough) system scan, including archived files. It is best if you do a boot-time scan.
Now do a full system scan using either or both of the spyware removal tools.
For the firewall. This is a little more difficult to setup, but what you need to know is that it has program access control. This means that it will prevent programs from accessing the internet that shouldn't. It is up to you to decide if the program is allowed access or not. This is the hard part, because certain things need internet access for you to browse the internet, use chat programs, get your email, etc., and other things should not be allowed. Zonealarm will give suggestions about some things, not about others. If Zonealarm says it's ok, then you are usually ok to click "Remember this selection" and then click "Allow". If Zonealarm has no suggestion, then I recommend you research some, or click deny.
If you have trouble with any of this, there are many people who will assist you.
If you want it done for you, and are in the Wilmington, NC area, we will do it for free. PM us your Name, Address, phone number or email, and a good time to contact you, and we will schedule a free in-home service to remove any existing virii and spyware, and will setup Zonealarm and Avast free editions for you.
(updated January 2009, AlphaCentauri)