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MISCELLANEOUS TIPS 3

Hacker/Cracker Intrusion Prevention: Just as an Anti-Virus program like NOD 32 and a Spy ware program like Spysweeper protects your machine from those threats a firewall protects your computer from direct intrusion from a malicious Cracker trying to gain access into your machine. A software firewall like Black Ice Defender, or the one built into Windows XP is sufficient for my dialup customers (you are only susceptible to an attack while you are on-line and the software firewalls should be ok. However, those of you with a cable or DSL connection are connected all the time, these software firewalls are not acceptable. The bad guys use programs that search the net continuously for an open port in a computer. Unlike the dial up customers, your machine is open to attack 24 hours a day. Using the software firewalls should not be an option for you, you need more protection. By installing a router with a built-in hardware firewall is by far the safest way to go. The router presents to the attacker an Internet address that is not the address of the computer. Therefore he tries to enter the address presented and is foiled by the router and your computer is safe. All routers do not have firewall protection. The ones with firewall protection are of course more expensive ($70-$80) -but your peace of mind is worth it.

Wired VS Wireless Routers/Networks: Small home or office networks allow more than one computer to share a high speed internet connection, printer and files. The computers are networked using a router or a switch or a combination of both. Depending upon the proximity of the computers to one another and the means of communication chosen (wired or wireless) between them dictates the equipment used. Each method has their benefits and drawbacks. Listed below are some things to consider:

Wired:

  • Faster data transfer
  • More secure to outside intrusion
  • Less expensive hardware
  • Cable must run between individual computers and router
  • Holes must be drilled through walls and floors to run cable

Wireless:

  • Slower data transfer
  • Less secure to outside intrusion
  • More expensive hardware
  • No cabling between computers and router
  • No house modification required for installation

If your considering building a home/small office network you should be sure all of your computers are running the same operating system. By that, I mean all the computers should be running either Windows XP Home or XP Professional not Windows XP and Windows 98 SE or Widows ME. Networks can be run with a combination of Windows operating systems but these are more problematic.

Music Sharing/Downloading Software: Music sharing software like Karza and others is not only illegal but exposes your computer to a great threat. Now you have a good Anti-Virus and Spy ware package that is up-to-date and you feel secure. However, introducing Karza or a similar peer-to-peer music sharing service open your machine to a very sever attack. Basically these services turn your machine into a web server. This means that your entire machine is open to the world to browse thru and steal anything they find. I know the teenagers in your house will hate me but don't use one of these services. To do so invites trouble with a capital T.

Buying On-Line: Many things have been written about the hazards of buying on-line and identity theft. Here is my two cents. I buy lots of things online and have had no trouble. However, there are a few safety guidelines to follow. First and most importantly when you start to enter your personal information (credit card info especially) check at the bottom left of your Internet browser and look for a closed yellow padlock. If there is none – STOP do not enter any financial or personal information. When the padlock icon is shown in the locked position, your transaction is secured by 128-bit encryption. This means that your data is as safe as anything can make it. This is more secure than when you shop at a store and they use your credit card. To crack this transaction they bad guys would need a super computer as powerful as anything that the National Security Agency has. On the other hand some online companies ask if you want them to keep your credit information to make your next shopping experience easier. I don't believe in this. The reason is simple, the online transaction is protected by encryption, but I don't know how secure their credit card information database is. If someone was able to enter their database then they could steal all of the credit card information.

Keeping Your Computer Running in Top Speed:

Keeping Your Temporary Internet Files and Cookies Folders Empty: When you visit a web page your web browser (Internet Explorer or Netscape) captures a copy of that page and places it in a Temporary Internet Files folder. The concept is when you visit that page again your browser can immediately display this copy until the real page is displayed. This is beneficial to those of you who have a dial up connection as it gives the illusion of a faster connection. However, on the downside these copies can take up a lot of room on your computers hard drive. Additionally, some sites send down little bits of code (cookies) so as to make your browser display the information on their web site a certain way. Once again these cookies accumulate and consume space on your hard drive. In most cases these files are easy to remove. Open Control Panel and find the icon labeled Internet Options, double click on the icon. An Internet Options dialog box is displayed, with the General page open. Select the Delete Files button. A Delete Files dialog box is displayed. Select the Delete all offline content check box and then select the OK button. Depending on the amount of files that  stored and the speed of your computer the hourglass symbol will be displayed until all the files are deleted. Select the Delete Cookies button. A Delete Cookies dialog box is displayed. Select the OK button. Depending on the amount of cookies that are stored and the speed of your computer the hourglass symbol will be displayed until all the cookies are deleted.

Defragmenting Your Hard Drive:

When the computer is new or when it has a new hard drive installed and only the operating system (Windows) and programs are installed all the data is one contiguous stream. Initially when data files are created the stream continues. However, after use when files are added and then deleted this contiguous stream is broken or fragmented. To access or write the data the hard drive mechanism has to work harder and slows down the computer. To remedy this condition, you should defragment or return the hard drive data into a contiguous stream once again. This is a simple task but can tie up the computer for some time depending upon the severity of the fragmentation. Cick/Select on the Start button and select My Computer from the rollup menu or double-click on the My Computer Icon on your desktop. When the explorer window is displayed, move your mouse cursor over the icon labeled C: drive (local drive C:, Presario C: etc…- various names all the same thing). Right click on the icon and choose Properties from the rolldown menu. When the Properties dialog opens Select/Click on the Tools tab and select Defragment Now button. When the Disk Defragment dialog box opens Select/Click on the Defragment button. A dialog box will appear showing when the task is complete. When it is complete, exit the program. I recommend doing this once a month.

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