Secure Searches

With the news coming out about the data mining the NSA is doing. Phone calls, online posts and internet searches. This bothers me because it limits our freedom and subjects us to targeting by the government. That is why I do my internet searches with a secure search engine based in The Netherlands not subject to the US rules, they do not comply with requests from the US for informatin and they say they don’t keep that information so they couldn’t comply if they wanted to. No matter what it has to be more secure than google or microsoft who I believe are both in bed with the government. The search engine I use now is https://www.startpage.com/

I also ran across an idea on godstunes blog which I like The Jesus Revolution

God Bless You

Laptop Hard Drive not working

Just recently a friend brought a laptop to me because it wouldn’t boot up. When I tried it the machine said there was no hard drive in it.

I was going to pull the hard drive and try it as and external drive on my machine to see it it could be salvaged as they needed some of the data if I could get it back.

When I took the panel off the bottom to remove it the hard drive had come out of the connector. I assume it had been dropped, knocked off the table or something of that sort. I plugged it back in, turned on the machine and it booted up. Since that took care of the first problem I tried a few things and the machine seemed to stop responding. I didn’t know if there was a problem from the initial disconnect of the drive or what. It was acting strange with the anti virus (Avast) so I uninstalled it and scanned for spyware and malware, there were a few so I removed those, then I did an online scan at Trend Micro which said it was clean at which point I downloaded a fresh copy of Avast and installed it.

So now the machine is clean of viruses, spyware and malware but it still kept hanging up, taking a long time to do anything so I looked at what was loading at startup and found there were a lot of things loading. Since I didn’t install the programs I had to determine what was actually needed (my rule of thumb is if it will load when I open the program I don’t need it to be running all the time) so I started disabling startup programs and the machine started working much better.

Most problems end up not being hardware. I don’t work on computers much anymore but the main thing I find when I do is spyware and malware, startup processes, a fragmented hard drive or something along those lines.

Most of the software I use for those things are linked from the anti virus page at http://www.tnt-computer.com/virus.html

Virus Protection

We have all heard horror stories about the damage a computer virus can do to your computer and many of those stories are true.

The good news is that you can protect your computer with a little thought and preparation.

The first thing to be aware of is that there are people out there that rejoice at the idea of causing as much trouble, inconvenience and damage as possible. Which means that you need a good anti virus program. There are the big names that you pay for initially and think you have the best and they do come pre installed on new machines. I have noticed that many people didn’t realize that they only got free updates for a limited time. After that you were only protected up to the time the software expired and any new virus that came out after that date was a threat. You could subscribe to the updates and pay the fee of course and stay protected.

There are other programs out there. The one I like and use myself is AVG AntiVirus. The software has a free version for personal use and one you pay for. The free one has worked very well for me and I update it almost daily and even though I haven’t purchased a copy I would feel comfortable with it if I did.

The next thing is understanding how a virus is spread! The most common is via an email attachment: Be aware of what you are opening! If the email comes from someone you don’t know it’s a potential threat! Even if you know the sender be careful, a virus will send itself out from an infected machine to addresses in the address book on that machine and it may fake a from email address the same way. Many times when a virus is sending itself out it will put something in the subject field that won’t be the way the person in the from field would express themselves, if you know them you should catch that. Bottom line is that I delete more emails than I read because I’d rather be safe than sorry. When I do open an attachment I save it to disk first, AVG scans it when you save it so I know it’s virus free.

Another common way for a virus or spy ware to spread is by piggybacking on other software that you download. If you just can’t resist the latest toolbar, file-sharing gizmo, coupon dispenser or email enhancer, you may be at risk. Often these and other downloads come with malware, free of charge. Running a good anti-spy ware program will reduce your risk.

Next would be when you are on a website and a window pops up telling you to install and run something. Unless you are at a site like Microsoft doing updates or something similar the best advice is to click NO. I have personally been caught like that myself so I KNOW it happens and believe me it can be a mess.

Next would be sharing your drive on a network. If you don’t have to DON’T. The reason being that you can never speak for someone else and you don’t know if they practice safe computing or not.
Finally there is all that removable media, floppy disks, cd’s, usb hard drives etc. Any file on any one of them could be infected. Keeping your Anti virus software enabled and updated should protect you but YOU make the difference.

One other thing that can help protect you is to do an online scan. The problem there is it takes some time especially on a dial up connection. The one I like the best is at Trend Micro.