The procedures and utilities described here are for the users of Windows operating systems.

In today's world, where internet intruders are so prevalent and cause so many problems, you really MUST follow these suggested procedures on any internet connected PC. You can choose not to, of course, but if you don't you are really wasting your time seeking assistance here or anywhere else. On an unprotected machine, problems are sure to continue.

If your system is simply too infested to effectively clean, or has too many problems related to past infestations or other problems, then now is as good a time as any to back up all your data, format and install Windows again, and have a fresh, clean start!

Links to any recommended hardware and software can be found at the bottom of this page.

1.) Antivirus

Antivirus protection is a must-have and most new computers will come with at least a trial version of an antivirus program. Make sure you replace the trial version, or pay for the full version, before the trial period runs out.

Nod32 is the leader among AV programs and is reasonably priced. There are also free AV programs available that do an acceptable job such as AVG and Avast.

You should have only one antivirus program running on your computer, as more then one can cause problems.

2.) Firewall

A firewall is critical these days, particularly if you have a high-speed connection (such as DSL, cable, etc.). A software firewall is a minimum requirement, a hardware firewall is much better, and a combination of both a software and hardware firewalls is best. Having more than one software firewall, however, will not offer any additional protection, and will usually create problems.

Hardware-type firewalls are available from companies such as SMC, Linksys, Netgear, and others.

Free software firewalls are available from Microsoft (included with Windows XP), Kerio, Sygate, Zone Alarm, and others.

3.) Updates

Get the Critical Updates for Windows using Windows Update (it should be in your Start menu). If your OS is Windows XP, and you do not currently have SP2, don’t get it, at least until your system has been verified as clean. You must have a least SP1 installed, if you don’t currently have any XP updates, get SP1a. If you do not have your PC set to check for updates automatically, check manually at least weekly.

Get the Critical Updates for Internet Explorer using Windows Update (open IE, click on Tools, and then Windows Update). You need to have the latest version of Internet Explorer, which is currently version 6 (IE6). If you do not already have SP2, do not get it, at least until your system has been verified as clean. You must have a least SP1 installed; if you don’t currently have any IE updates, get SP1a. If you do not have your PC set to check for updates automatically, check manually at least weekly.

Update your antivirus, and any other protection programs you have frequently; setting them to check automatically is best, or at least check weekly.

4.) Secure Internet Explorer

If you use Internet Explorer as your browser, you should protect your system from malicious ActiveX components.

The easiest way to ‘customize’ your ActiveX settings is to Open Internet Explorer, go to Tools, Internet Options; click on the Security tab, and then the Custom Level button. You will see several options for different settings; go down the list and make the appropriate changes. If you Enable all the options, you are leaving your system open to unwanted intrusions, the more of these you have Disabled, the safer your system is, but there may be sites that you cannot access. Prompt is the next best option, but constantly clicking OK can be tedious and you often don't know whether it should be allowed or not.

This combination works best for me, but may not be best for you – it’s just shown as a reference:
Download signed ActiveX controls -- Prompt
Download unsigned ActiveX controls -- Disable
Initialize and script ActiveX controls not marked as safe -- Disable
Run ActiveX controls and plug-ins -- Enable
Script ActiveX controls marked safe for scripting – Enable

Many malicious programs will load themselves automatically into your Temporary Internet Files folder (in IE). You can set IE up to automatically empty this folder every time you close it by going to Tools, Internet Options, Advanced; scroll down to the Security section, locate Empty Temporary Internet Files folder when browser is closed, and put a checkmark in the box. Click Apply, and then OK.

5.) Browsers

Your PC will come with Internet Explorer (IE) preinstalled, and you will need to keep it because it is an integrated part of the Windows operating system. IE is also needed in order to get Windows Updates online.

For the majority of browsing activities, however, other browsers are less prone to attacks and should be used whenever possible. Browsers such as Firefox and Opera are the most frequently recommended alternatives. If you get Mozilla or Firefox, you should also get the IEview plug-in.

6.) Other protective software

IE-SPYAD – adds a long list of sites and domains associated with known advertisers, marketers, etc. to the Restricted Zone of IE.

PestPatrol – Sweeps your PC of malicious software.

SpywareBlaster – Helps prevent the installation of spyware, adware, browser hijackers, dialers, and other unwanted software; blocks many spyware/tracking cookies, and restricts the actions of unwanted sites.

SpywareGaurd – Real-Time Scanning to catch and block spyware before it can execute, prevents spyware from being downloaded, and offers browser-hijacking protection.

7.) Other protective measures

Don’t let children, who are usually more liberal when it comes to giving out personal information, use the computer without supervision.

Avoid file-sharing programs (aka P2P); aside from the fact that the majority of it is not legal to share, some 70% of shared files carry some sort of malware.

Do not click on any popup ads, nor click on the ‘X’ to close them -- right-click on the ad, and select Close.

If you get any popups or emails requesting personal information, passwords, or information about any accounts you have, do not reply – no matter real how it looks! If you think it may be legitimate, contact the institution yourself (do not use any numbers provided in the email or ad), and ask them if they requested this information. The answer will usually be “NO!�?

Read this article on safe browsing habits:

And here's some information on fighting spam:


Avast – http://www.avast.com/eng/avast_4_home.html

AVG – http://free.grisoft.com/doc/2/lng/us/tpl/v5

Nod32 – http://www.nod32.com/home/home.htm


Firefox – http://www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/
IEview plug-in (for Mozilla and Firefox) – http://ieview.mozdev.org/installation.html

Opera – http://www.opera.com/download/

You can find more information on browsers here:

Hardware Firewalls

Linksys – http://www.linksys.com/products/product.asp?grid=23&prid=433

Netgear – http://www.netgear.com/products/details/FR114P.php

SMC – http://www.smc.com/index.cfm?event=viewProduct&localeCode=EN_USA&cid=1&scid=17&pid=924

Software Firewalls

Kerio – http://www.kerio.com/us/kpf_download.html

Comodo – http://www.personalfirewall.comodo.com/

Zone Alarm – http://www.zonelabs.com/store/content/company/products/znalm/freeDownload.jsp?lid=selector_za

Other Protective Software

IE-SPYAD – https://netfiles.uiuc.edu/ehowes/www/resource.htm

SpywareBlaster – http://www.javacoolsoftware.com/spywareblaster.html

SpywareGaurd – http://www.javacoolsoftware.com/spywareguard.html

PestPatrol – http://www.download.com/eTrust-PestPatrol-Anti-Spyware/3000-8022_4-10345714.html?tag=lst-0-1

Reinstalling Operating Systems

Windows XP – http://www.daniweb.com/techtalkforums/thread6632.html

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