Running life via laptop - Advice needed (please).

  Miyah 11:41 30 May 05

Following an illness I am going to be 'housebound' for a while. This means that work, banking, shopping etc. is all going to have to be done from home on my laptop (running XP Home SP1 updated with SP2).

I have Norton AV 2003 with updated current subscription, Zone Alarm Firewall, Spybot S&D (teatimer on), Ad-Aware and have just put Microsoft AntiSpyware (Beta) on to try it out. All updated everyday.

BUT something still managed to get through and switch off and disable my AV Auto Protect and put something on my laptop causing amongst other things the CPU to run at 100%. As I did not know enough to trace where or what it was, and I regularly back up everything, I restored my laptop to factory settings from the pre-installed Norton Ghost (?) on the partitioned drive.

I would be realy grateful for any advice on the following. As is probably very obvious I have little technical knowledge - and it would be nice to know enough so that I can avoid adding 'paranoia' about security online to my present list of woes :-)

So my questions are ...

1. Was I right in thinking that the factory restore would have overwritten and got rid of anything that was on the laptop?

2. Should I get AV 2005 instead of just continually renewing subs on 2003, does it have any features that would give me more protection?

3. As I am now going to have do all my financial transactions online, what would you advise me to put on to make sure I am secure?

4. What are the 'do's and don'ts' I should be following to make sure I stay secure?

5. I am only on dial up here. My Firewall and AV are both online subsciption. Is there any possibility of something being put on the laptop during the lengthy time I was online pre- install, downloading the programmes, that would not be picked up when scanning with the installed AV (and spyware) afterwards?

Many thanks for any help.


  muscic lover 11:55 30 May 05

Well i wish you a speedy recovery.......from whatever is laying you up !

I would advise you to install (google search required for these keywords) -
these are FREE programmes and can be easily updated ( i use them) and have been 'bug free' for ages!

I would also get get norton AV for 2005 edition, and use Norton FIREWALL AS WELL!!!

Also be aware that there are many phishing (pronounced fishing) scam e mails being sent on the web to many millions of addresses.... they say that " as a member of our online banking ..... blah blah blah we need to verify your account details then a click here button ' If you follow that your details will be stolen by crooks and your account raided! ONLY EVER go to your banks OWN HOME PAGE FROM THE ADDRESS BAR - never repond to these emails and just delete them from your system.... If your bank was that worried about your details they would contact you by phone or letter - not an email.

As I said at the start..... I wish you well.
and enjoy your online life and start to learn a little if you can as well, now may be a good time to start! AVOID daytime TV - it is dire!

I wish you well and hope you have A speedy recovery!

  Joe R 11:58 30 May 05


Adaware,Spybot, Zone alarm, And Ms antispy are all good for protection.

I would recommend the following two prog's to go with them, and forget about Norton.

click here

click here

  muscic lover 12:01 30 May 05


both have plusses and minuses... It is really up to you.

I prefer Norton and Joe R prefers AVG.

Whatever you chose make sure you us eit and keep updating it as well! oh and do a reular ( at least once a week) scan for viruses!

  Joe R 12:10 30 May 05

Music Lover,

I had posted that before, I had seen your first posting, and there was no intent, to put a slight on your posting.

As you say, it is a matter of taste.

Sorry about that.

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 12:11 30 May 05

Q1 Yes everything would have been overwritten this is why bacing up your passwords files documents music et. is important.

Q2 Norton is a resource hog and costs money to update there is free software out there that is just as good and free to keep update. see Q3

Q3 Avast4 click here

MSoftAntispy Beta click here

Spywareblaster click here

Adaware click here

Spybot S&D
click here

ZoneAlarm click here

Q4 Keep the programs updated and scan reularly, don't visit "dodgy sites", dont open any e-mails you don't Know who they are from, Do not click any links in e-mails, BANKS etc do not communicate by e-mail they use the regular post. Donot use passwords that are easy to break and use a different passorw for each site. Use a password generator a good one on this months PCA mag cover.

Q5 Nasty stuff can be installed pretty quick but your AV and spyware once install updated and run should find it ok.

  GANDALF <|:-)> 12:18 30 May 05

I use AVG and MS Antispy and that is all. I get All 'security' programme are good and all have their strong points and their weak points. There is an enormous amount of hype about security and if a computer does get infected it is usually fairly easy to clean it. there are a few simple steps to follow to ensure that your computer is not infected. Do not be put off by all the 'horror' stories floating around the net, there are some sites that positively wallow in the Arthurian dream of battling all sorts of 'nasties' but they rarely give sensible, practical advice.

AV programmes.....Tales of viruses eating hard drives are generally apocryphal, on home computers anyway. Any AV, provided it is regularly updated, will be more than enough to keep you safe. I use AVG and so do many others, it is fine and there are no reports of any problems. Most of the free AVs use little resources and all seem effective.

Firewalls...I have yet to see evidence of a home computer being hacked and all the information stolen or it taken over by 1337 hAX0rz. Hacking is more about networks, passwords and static IPs and in any case home computers, like mine, contain utter, mind-boggling drivel. If you want to get someone's bank/credit card details there are much easier ways than adopting a scatter-gun many people use a credit card at a shop, restaurant or garage without a second thought? Any free firewall will be more than enough and if you are on dial up, investing in the BT premium number blocking service will be wise. If a spotty, 17yr old youth can access 150 secure sites in the States, including the North American Missile defence system, then home computers have no chance. Most firewalls will hide your ports but this is any fule no, an IP address will have a full range of ports attached and it does not take a genius to work out which they are as they are a constant with home computers...the ports might be hidden or 'stealthed' but it does not mean that they are not there. Any 'alerts' that you get on a firewall will merely be handshakes from up to 50 servers asking if your IP address is still live so they can send you the requested pages. When you are on the net you do not 'go' to a site, your request that the site is sent to you and this is why you have a unique IP address so the servers know where to deliver. Remarkably these 'alerts' disappear when people buy the professional version of a firewalll...remarkable eh?

A decent spyware remover such as MS Antispy click here will provide real-time protection and is also excellent and free. Lavasoft Adaware click here is useful as a backup but I now only use MS Antispy which seems to have made the rest redundant.

A decent temp file cleaner such as Ccleaner click here will clear out all your temp files and is well worth the price...which is nothing;-)).

The following is all you need to do..........There is a huge amount of paranoia about security and I get the impression that a small number of people relish this. It makes them feel elevated that their home computer is so important that the hackers of the world target it on a regular basis. This is not true. I would bet that every infection is self inflicted from ignorance or laziness, so if this guide is followed I can guarantee that you will have no problems.....1) Keep your AV and anti-spy programmes up to date on a daily basis or every time you go on the net.

2) lay off the sites that display people who have had all their clothes stolen. They are generally not illegal and we live in a 'free' country, so remember that you must not click any 'yes' buttons and never agree to install any programmes, enter yes to join a 'survey' or toolbar buttons. View and never click is the golden rule. The huge amount of Pr0n addresses that I see in the history files leads me to believe that these sites are a lot more popular than is talked about in polite society and confirms the reports that they form 80% of all net traffic ;-))))

part 2 next.........

  GANDALF <|:-)> 12:19 30 May 05

3) Children.....they are usually the #1 culprits. I can usually guarantee that any household with teenagers will have some sort of infection even with any firewall known to mankind. Children are targeted because they usually do not know the problems that downloading toolbar helpers and activeX programmes can cause. They must not download any free programmes no matter how enticing.

4) Spend half an hour reading about spyware etc., it is not rocket science and they all work on the basis that you will have given them permission to run. This will probably have been given unwittingly so you need to be aware of clicking on any programmes or dialogue boxes.

5) Get a good AV, MS Antispy and Adaware as a back up. Use a LITTLE common sense and you will never have a serious problem.

6) Do not share files. A shared folder on a computer is NOT safe. When you download a file you are giving permission for that file so a firewall or AV will let it through and they could easily miss a virus or Trojan. Lay off sharing on Messenger; this is probably the unsafest sort of file sharing and the root cause of problems on teenager's computers. If you get sent an attachment on an email be cautious about opening it especially if it is from someone who you do not know.

The above rules are simple and can be easily followed by anyone that can turn a computer on. They are not techie and involve a lot of common sense....folow them and you will have no problems.


  muscic lover 12:23 30 May 05

JOE R- no offence taken , we are all here to help....

Advice and preferrences differ... I take no offence. and i welcome your comments about anything and value yours as much as anybody elses!

  Miyah 13:02 30 May 05

Thank you all for the detailed helpful advice and the recomendations. Much appreciated.

Joe R. and Music Lover will take on board advice and that some things will come down to personal preference - and thank you for the good wishes ML :-)

Fruit Bat and Gandalf thanks for the added information and extra links - and I think I can safely promise you both I will ... umm ... refrain from visiting sites which seem 'dodgy' or are full of people who, as Gandalf put it, have had their clothes stolen. :-)

(Thank you also Gandalf for detailing everything so thoroughly. Has given me a better understanding.)

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