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Boulder Computer Maven Newsletter - January 2009

Dear Friends,

This is my customer newsletter, containing information that I hope you'll find interesting and helpful. This month's topic is Recommended Security Programs.

Previous newsletters are available on the newsletters page of the Boulder Computer Maven web site.If you change your E-mail address, please send me your new one. If you don't want to receive this newsletter, let me know, and I'll remove your name from my mailing list.

If you have questions or comments or want to schedule an appointment, please call me at 303-444-8247.

Best Wishes,
Steve Winograd

Helping People Use Computers in Boulder for Over 25 Years

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Recommended Security Programs

The World Wide Web can be a wonderful source of information. entertainment, and convenience, and E-mail lets us keep in touch with people all over the world. Unfortunately, there are people who create malicious web sites and E-mail messages that try to infect your computer, get you to buy fraudulent products, delete your files, steal your personal data, and allow criminal gangs to take over your computer and operate it remotely. Every computer that connects to the Web needs security programs to protect it.

Antivirus Programs

An antivirus program protects you from computer viruses. For full protection, it should have these features:

Here are the antivirus programs that I recommend. They're made by small, specialized computer security companies, and you usually won't find them at retail stores. I've tested them extensively on my own computers and installed them for many of you. They're fast, efficient, trouble-free, and effective in preventing and removing computer viruses:

If you'd be more comfortable with a program from a well-known company that you can buy at a retail store, Norton Antivirus 2009 is an acceptable choice. I think it's a big improvement over all previous Norton products, which are complex, trouble-prone, and likely to slow your computer down.

A computer can have only one antivirus program. Be sure to un-install any existing antivirus program before installing a new one.

Antispyware Programs

An antispyware program protects your computer from spyware. Like an antivirus program, it should have automatic updating, real-time protection, and scheduled scans. In addition, it should immunize your computer to prevent spyware from being installed.

Many antispyware programs detect and recommend removing two types of objects that aren't security risks. If a scan finds only these objects, your computer is free of spyware. You can keep or remove them, as you prefer:

Here are the antispyware programs that I recommend:

Here are some popular antispyware programs that I don't recommend for your primary spyware protection. They're OK to use for an occasional manual scan to see if your primary antispyware program missed something:

Firewall Programs

A firewall program protects your computer from unauthorized access by other people on the Internet. All Windows computers for the last several years have had the built-in Windows Firewall program, which provides the protection that you need. Here's how Windows Firewall works in Windows XP and Windows Vista.

Some firewall programs can alert you when a new program tries to connect to the Internet and ask you whether to allow or block it. I don't recommend these programs, because it's so hard to make the right choice when an alert appears. By blocking the wrong program, you can inadvertently disable important Windows features. If you want to try such a program, good choices are Outpost Firewall and Online Armor.

Other Security Programs

WinPatrol 2008 is a wonderful free security program. WinPatrol's mascot, Scotty the Windows WatchDog, is constantly on duty, scanning your computer and looking for changes to important settings. When he finds a change, Scotty appears on the screen, describes what has changed, and asks you what to do.

Say Yes, to allow the change, if you made the change yourself, or if the change is related to a program that you just installed. For example, you might have changed your Internet Explorer home page, or installed a new web browser.

Say No, to block the change, if you didn't ask for the change and don't trust the program that's making it.

If you're not sure about a change, please feel free to phone or E-mail me for help in deciding.