Sunday, November 14, 2010

(Topic: Personal PCs - Cleaning Viruses Spam etc.

What you will find below is, all of the measures which I use to protect my PCs. So far, these measures have been successful in keeping my PCs clean and operational, and free of BUGS and WHATNOTS that do not belong on a PC.

Please remember, that what I use may not be correct for everyone, but it works for me. If readers have other methods, I am all ears and will try to phase in that here as well. I am not, and do not claim to be, all knowing, I learn from others. My goal is, to address issues affecting sex offender legislation, and not have to fight PC problems along the way.

I never forget that, there are SMART BAD GUYS out there, whose intent is to destroy computers, and in that process do not care if the PC owner goes to prison. I recognize that, at times, changes to the following may be necessary, and will make them as need be!

With that said, here is a recent story told to me by a reader:
A former offender comes home and his better half tells him the local police want to talk to him, demanding he call them the next day, here is their phone number.

So, the next day he calls the police who proceed to accuse him of sending them some ad for Viagra. He explains he knows nothing of this and if true there must be some kind of virus on his computer. Police don't care what caused it but he must stop it.

The net effect is, he had to take off work -lose a day's pay and upset his boss- just to be abused by the police for something he did not do.

How should this be handled? Thats a longer story, but lets look at his PC to see if he has these minimum programs to protect his PC.

And, here is a real story of someone who failed to secure his home WiFi signal:
NY Child Pornography Case Underscores Wi-Fi Privacy Dangers 4-25-2011 New York:

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Lying on his family room floor with assault weapons trained on him, shouts of "pedophile!" and "pornographer!" stinging like his fresh cuts and bruises, the Buffalo homeowner didn't need long to figure out the reason for the early morning wake-up call from a swarm of federal agents. That new wireless router. He'd gotten fed up trying to set a password. Someone must have used his Internet connection, he thought.

"We know who you are! You downloaded thousands of images at 11:30 last night," the man's lawyer, Barry Covert, recounted the agents saying. They referred to a screen name, "Doldrum." "No, I didn't," he insisted. "Somebody else could have but I didn't do anything like that." "You're a creep ... just admit it," they said.

Law enforcement officials say the case is a cautionary tale. Their advice: Password-protect your wireless router. Plenty of others would agree. The Sarasota, Fla. man, for example, who got a similar visit from the FBI last year after someone on a boat docked in a marina outside his building used a potato chip can as an antenna to boost his wireless signal and download an astounding 10 million images of child porn, or the North Syracuse, N.Y., man who in December 2009 opened his door to police who'd been following an electronic trail of illegal videos and images. The man's neighbor pleaded guilty April 12.

For two hours that March morning in Buffalo, agents tapped away at the homeowner's desktop computer, eventually taking it with them, along with his and his wife's iPads and iPhones.

Within three days, investigators determined the homeowner had been telling the truth: If someone was downloading child pornography through his wireless signal, it wasn't him. About a week later, agents arrested a 25-year-old neighbor and charged him with distribution of child pornography. The case is pending in federal court.

And the worst story of all:
The Matt Bandy Story

How to chose a secure e-mail password:

Check the Strength of Passwords: How easy is it to crack your password? DO NOT use your exact password, instead use a similar one. ex: If your password is 284abter then enter a similar one like 276bater the program will then tell you how strong it is. Works GREAT!

Super article on Creating Strong Memorable Passwords

Here is something to consider: How To Hide Passwords in an Encrypted Drive Even the FBI Can’t Get Into (We have not tried this so be aware and if you have any trouble work with that site.)

How To Check If Your Account Passwords Have Been Leaked Online and Protect Yourself From Future Leaks: Use with caution, things change over time. Site "How to Geek" is a worthy site though.

Major Sites Covering All Sorts of Issues PC Related:

The Kim Komando site: Excellent advise on tons of issues

eAdvocate's Suggestions:

Spend Hours in Front of PC at Night? You need this..

Every so often someone develops a program that many of us -nightowls- loves. You need to review this one, I am using it and love it. Initially the settings were too PINKISH but once adjusted it works great. From the author:
If you spend nights in front of a computer screen, F.lux is the best thing you’ll ever come across

I discovered F.lux earlier this year, and it has changed how I work. F.lux is a program that sits quietly on your Mac, Windows or Linux computer removing the blue light emitted by your screen which can cause your body to subconsciously delay its natural timings — and adversely affect your sleep.

In short, if you spend evenings (and early hours) sitting in front of a computer screen for any reason, F.lux will help you sleep better, by calibrating your screen’s brightness to the rise and fall of the sun in your location. ..Continued here and worth your time... Enjoy.

AntiVirus and Internet Security Programs

Anti-Virus and Internet Security Programs: No PC or Mac should be without one of these programs. Personally, I use Norton's Internet Security package because it includes a good anti-virus program. There are others and no matter what one you use, make absolutely sure you have recently updated your "Virus Definitions" if the program does not do that automatically. Make sure the program has that option turned on.
If anyone thinks they can take care of installing Anti-Virus and Internet Security Programs, later, please take the time to read about all those who have gone to prison because they did not have GOOD PC PROTECTION programs. Click on these to read stories: HERE HERE HERE HERE and dozens of stories here. The problem with so many of these cases is, lawyers simply are not sufficiently versed with technology because it is moving faster than they can keep up with it.
There is NOTHING more important to owning a PC (or MAC) than making certain it is PROTECTED by GOOD Anti-Virus and Internet Security Programs, and lock down your home WiFi if you have one.

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FileHippo for FREE Programs

Next, I use several programs which I discuss below, and I get them from a reliable website called which I have used for years now, and never a problem. Because all programs there are FREE the site does have advertisements (no they do not load anything on your computer for simply visiting them). Their site looks like this:

Now, lets walk through downloading "CCleaner" a great program for keeping your system free of unnecessary files (It is set to do that when you download it). In the Search box (next to pic of a Hippo) type in "CCleaner" (NO QUOTES) and press Enter/Return on your keyboard. You should then see the following:

Next simply click on the "CCleaner" and then you should see the following:

You'll notice they describer the program, which allows you to get an idea of what it does; it would do this no matter what program you are downloading. On the right side of the screen IN GREEN it says "Download Latest Version" and below that are older versions, should you want one of them. Clicking on "Download Latest Version" the download should begin and the following screen will be displayed:

Now you want to install the program on you system. But, because I don't know exactly which Browser you are using, or the system, I cannot explain exactly what you must do, simply follow what you have done installing programs before.
When CCleaner installs it gives you certain options to change or leave as is, "Language" leave as "English" and click NEXT, now I do make changes here, see pic:
I simply UNCLICK boxes 2-3-4 which I find are unnecessary. Then just continue with the install.

When you FIRST RUN CCleaner, if you have never run any program like it before, it is going to take time to clean up your PC. Watch the "Percentage" as it reaches 100% NOTE: NEVER stop CCleaner when it is in progress, it is writing to your disk.

Remember, these options in (GREEN AREA) are ONLY for CCleaner, other programs you may install may have their own options. Thats for you to decide.

Follow this for every program you want to install.

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System Cleaning Program

System Cleaning: When was the last time you used a program like CCleaner to clean your PC? Always remember, as you use your PC (especially on the Internet) it creates all sorts of files temporarily and these files must be cleaned up (removed) to keep the PC running properly. I've seen PCs with thousands of these files slowing it down to a crawl, once removed it makes a BIG difference.

is a FREE program which does a fine job of cleaning a PC. I would suggest it be used at least once a week, or more frequently if you spend plenty of time on the Internet; I do for research. CCleaner is available FREE from (A great site which keeps current copies of programs to update PCs with).

When you download and install CCleaner it comes with settings that all PCs can use without making changes. Yes, it has other options built into it, but you can learn those later if you are one who tweaks the PC (I DO NOT use their Registry Cleaner, recently I have found problems with it). For now, download it and run it as mentioned above. The first time you run it, you may find thousands of files, so give it time to clean your PC (it might take upwards of 10 minutes or more, which I can remember one PC did.).

HEADS UP: I found a guy who KNOWS all there is to KNOW about CCleaner, I am impressed by the way he described w/pics how to do this or that. So without further words: HERES the CCleaner Guru. Now remember, if you change the setting to do things he mentions for something special, change them back for the normal daily cleaning.

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System Malware Checking Program

Malware: Malware can cause all sorts of problems on a system, so I use Malwarebyte's Anti-Malware program FREE from This is a great little program which finds things that many anti-virus programs miss.

Once you download and install this program you must remember to UPDATE its definitions BEFORE running it EACH TIME you run it. When the opening screen is displayed, click on the tab "Update" then "Check for Updates" it shouldn't take it but a minute or so to update itself.

Then click on "Scanner" and do the following: First time you run it "Perform Full Scan" and depending on your system and it speed it can take upwards of an hour to run. It will tell you what it finds and how to resolve those it finds. As it runs watch the "Objects infected" figure, if it turns red, the it found something, hopefully your system has nothing on it.

The second and on times, you should just run "Perform quick scan" which takes very little time. When it finishes it will prepare a report which you can print, I just "X" it out, I don't keep track of any once fixed. Again, this program should be run at least weekly, or sooner if you have something funny happening. Remember to fix whatever it finds.

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SUPERAntiSpyware Program

SUPERAntiSpyware: This is a program that has saved some folks a pile of money, effectively it is like a anti-virus program, but notice the "Super" in its name. This one goes way beyond what the traditional anti-virus programs cover, and it has a few additional features which no anti-virus program has.

Again, it is available FREE from While some folks may say this one is not necessary, I let it run in the background daily just in case.

Once you download and install this program you must remember to UPDATE its definitions BEFORE running it. On your TaskBar you will see what looks like a tiny brown Ladybug, put your cursor over it and RIGHT CLICK, then "Check for Updates" it shouldn't take it but a minute or so to update itself. It will display a screen (in part a marketing screen, trying to sell you a Paid version [I haven't purchased that]) CLICK close and it will be updated.

How often should you scan your entire system? After installing the program I'd do it once, then if your having problems, then do it again. Beyond that, just let it run in the background and UPDATE the definition weekly.

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PC Operating System

PC Operating System: Have you UPDATED all that Microsoft recommends? Operating systems frequently require updating as folks find problems with it, and Microsoft programmers release FREE updates to correct programming errors.

Now because I am generally helping someone over the phone and do not know how they have set their system for updates (automatic or manual), I use another program to find out if the Operating System has been updated (Belarc Advisor), and much more about the system. Then I go from there to help them.

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Program to Document System and its Programs

Belarc Advisor tells us plenty about your system and, if you chose to, gives you a printout which you can save, should you have to talk to a technician for any reason. Belarc Advisor is available FREE -for home use- by clicking on that link, and on the right hand side it says "Click here to download your FREE copy," do that and install it, its safe.

Should your system stop it from installing, and ask questions, then answer them to allow it to install. Once it is installed, then it will want to update its definitions -automatically- so let it do that (Its checking your system and seeing what Microsoft recommends for your system).

After that it will display a screen with all sorts of information about your system, here is where, if you want, you can print a copy. Now, at the very top of the screen are TWO sections (Virus Protection and Microsoft Security Updates) which should be GREEN indicating you are uptodate on those issues.

If your Microsoft Security Updates ARE NOT uptodate, then the operating system must be updated. If you know how to do that, then go ahead and get the updates posted. However, if you DO NOT know how to do that, and it needs to be done, this is where I would normally talk a person through that using the printout above, but it is impossible to cover all systems here in print. I strongly advise you contact someone locally who knows how to do that, and have them do that AND set your system to automatic updates, so Microsoft can do it automatically for you in the future.

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Secure Your PC - Critical

Secure your PC: HERE is a list of things folks can do to protect their privacy while on the Internet. Many of those mentioned takes someone quite knowledgeable with systems, if you are not, I would skip them. Tweaking a system (playing with preset settings) should only be done by a qualified person.

Please take note of the following article about Internet Privacy and Web Browsers:
Visited Porn? Browser Flaw Secretly Bares All

Dozens of websites have been secretly harvesting lists of places that their users previously visited online, everything from news articles to bank sites to pornography, a team of computer scientists found.

The information is valuable for con artists to learn more about their targets and send them personalized attacks. It also allows e-commerce companies to adjust ads or prices — for instance, if the site knows you've just come from a competitor that is offering a lower price.

Although passwords aren't at risk, in harvesting a detailed list of where you've been online, sites can create thorough profiles on its users.

The technique the University of California, San Diego researchers investigated is called "history sniffing" and is a result of the way browsers interact with websites and record where they've been. A few lines of programming code are all a site needs to pull it off.

Although security experts have known for nearly a decade that such snooping is possible, the latest findings offer some of the first public evidence of sites exploiting the problem. Current versions of the Firefox and Internet Explorer browsers still allow this, as do older versions of Chrome and Safari, the researchers said.

The report adds to growing worry about surreptitious surveillance by Internet companies and comes as federal regulators in the U.S. are proposing a "Do Not Track" tool that would prevent advertisers from following consumers around online to sell them more products.

The researchers found 46 sites, ranging from smutty to staid, that tried to pry loose their visitors browsing histories using this technique, sometimes with homegrown tracking code. Nearly half of the 46 sites, including financial research site and news site, used an ad-targeting company, Interclick, which says its code was responsible for the tracking.

Interclick said the tracking was part of an eight-month experiment that the sites weren't aware of. The New York company said it stopped using the technique in October because it wasn't successful in helping match advertisers to groups of Internet users. Interclick emphasized that it didn't store the browser histories.

Morningstar said it ended its relationship with Interclick when it found out about the program, and NewsMax said it didn't know that history sniffing had been used on its users until The Associated Press called. NewsMax said it is investigating.

The researchers studied far more sites — a total of the world's 50,000 most popular sites — and said many more behaved suspiciously, but couldn't be proven to use history sniffing. Nearly 500 of the sites studied had characteristics that suggested they could infer browsers' histories, and more than 60 transferred browser histories to the network. But the researchers said they could only prove that 46 had done actual "history hijacking."

"Browser vendors should have fixed this a long time ago," said Jeremiah Grossman, an Internet security expert at WhiteHat Security Inc., which wasn't involved in the study. "It's more evidence that we not only needed the fix, but that people really should upgrade their browsers. Most people wouldn't know this is possible."

The latest versions of Google Inc.'s Chrome and Apple Inc.'s Safari have automatic protections for this kind of snooping, researchers said. Mozilla Corp. said the next version of Firefox will have the same feature, adding that a workaround exists for some older versions as well.

Microsoft Corp. noted that Internet Explorer users can enable a private browsing mode that prevents the browser from logging the user's history, which prevents this kind of spying. But private browsing also strips away important benefits of the browser knowing its own history, such as displaying Google links you've visited in different colors than those you haven't.

"It's surprising, the lifetime that this fundamental a privacy violation can stick around," said Hovav Shacham, an assistant professor of computer science and engineering at UC San Diego and one of the paper's authors.

Internet companies are obsessed with tracking users' behavior so they can target their ads better. Uproar has prompted the Federal Trade Commission to propose rules that would limit advertisers' ability to track Internet users to show them advertisements. The "Do Not Track" tool the commission is proposing could eventually take the form of a browser setting that tells advertisers which visitors are off limits; such a setting, though, wouldn't necessarily block history sniffing.

History sniffing is essentially a side-by-side comparison of Web pages you've already visited with Web pages that a particular site wants to see if you've visited. If there's a match, users likely would never know, but the site administrators would learn a lot about their audiences.

For instance, a popular porn site was checking its visitors' histories to see if they'd visited 23 other pornography sites, and the code used on the Morningstar and sites looked for matches against 48 specific Web pages, all related to Ford automobiles.

Sites can carry on this kind of inspection very quickly. Grossman said modern programs can check as many as 20,000 Internet addresses per second.
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A Website That Will Test How Fast Your Internet Connection Is

Speed of Internet Connection: This is not a program to download, instead it is a website that TEMPORARILY uploads a file to your computer, and then downloads the same file. Doing that it can check exactly how fast your Internet connection is and it reports that back to your screen. Kinda nice thing to know if your connection seems to be slow.

CLICK to find out how fast your Internet connection is
(Click on the grey bar, not the green advertize button).

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Is your WiFi SLOW?
Then here is a wonderful but somewhat technical, site to walk you through all sorts of things that might be the cause of a slow WiFi connection. And they explain -in detail- how to fix a variety of possible causes.
It is worth your time to at least review.

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Browser Tips - Cool things to know

47 Keyboard Shortcuts That Work in All Web Browsers

What is your DNS and IP Address?

Browsing Anonymously - Read this

How to browse the web anonymously

Misc PC Tips:
All sorts of PC related tips
Several FREE RSS Readers - Pick one and you'll love the ease of use.
How to Follow a Twitter Feed in Your RSS Reader

Well thats it for now, if you know of something which could be added here, please let us know.

For now, have a great day and a better tomorrow.
eAdvocate (BACK to the Top Page)

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