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Securing your computer

This is a multi part subject, and includes firewalls, virus, spam, phishing which are all listed on this website as separate subjects.

(1) You need to keep your operating system up to date with the Security and Critical updates. Windows Hardware updates are usefull if they work?, and help to make your system a bit more reliable. Don't load the Windows Software updates unless you really need them. Some programs require the use of some of them and they will usually get installed with the main setup program, they will then come under the Security and Critical (HighPriorty) updates, should they have any security flaws.

(2) And always set youself up a user login for normal use, only using the administrator login for new program installations or updates. Even login in as a user won't keep your system secure unless you carry out (1) above.

(3) There are a large number of programs and DLL's that have the ability to access the Internet, you can use the personal (software) firewall (not the default Windows one) to limit which applications you want to be able to access the Internet. Smoothwall Express 3.0 a hardware firewall, blocks most ports by default. both firewalls can be set to block everything by default and you then open the ones you require for each application to access the Internet

(4) Even after you have carried out all the above, it's still possible your web browser can still get hacked when logged in as a User. A partial solution is to install Firefox 2, to give yourself a second browser, there are others available, Opera and Safari , Firefox is the number 2 browser after IE6/7.

(5) It's ultimately up to you to be carefull what you allow to be downloaded. If your not sure what a program asking for Internet access is, use the web browser to search for it. There are websites that will give you a good idea what most programs and DLL's are used for. Search using quotes around the name and extension, ie, "WPDBusEnum.exe". Please be aware some virus and trojans use names the same or similar to genuine OS files, if the same they will store it in a different directory/folder.

For Windows 2000 and XP you can use a utility called Active Ports (aports.exe) to see what programs are accessing the Internet and where they are on you system, you can also terminate suspect programs as well. Vista's Task Manager shows you where programs are located and a firewall like Comodo Firewall Pro. will show you whats using the internet. Note: Active Ports is old, unsupported and free, needs version 1.4 to run on XP and it doesn't run on Vista. You will find it on