We’ve already explored securing your system and browsing safely, now we’ll explore a few ways to keep your E-Mail safe from assault. Email is one of the most vulnerable access points in to your system because even e-mail from trusted people can contain malicious payloads. After all, not everyone is as safety conscious as you are. So to help navigate the e-mail minefield we’re going to look at two separate strategies.
The first strategy is to use an online mail service like Google Mail, this is by far the easiest way to do things and has been my preferred method for years. It puts the burden for spam blocking and virus cleaning onto a huge company with almost limitless resources. They tend to do a pretty fine job of it.
However if you’re using your ISP’s POP mail, usually something like firstname.lastname@example.org, and don’t want to give that up I recommend using Mailwasher to block spam. There is a terrific tutorial over on their site for using Mailwasher, so I won’t try to improve on that. You’ve already installed AVG Antivirus which will scan your incoming and outgoing mail for viruses, so with these two items in place you are about as well protected as software can make you. The rest is up to you.
Now we go over a few rules to keep you from betraying your system into enemy hands. First, do not open attachments from people you don’t know no matter how enticing it might sound. Second, do not open “free” screen savers, “free” games, or any other “neat” thing that someone forwards you. The final rule is to never respond to, or click any link in a spam email that you do receive. These rules combined with a Google Mail account or Mailwasher and AVG will keep you safe from any email assault. Remember to read Part One and Part Two if you haven’t already, and as always we appreciate it when you
In Part One of this series we talked about how to clear your system out and get your security software in place, but security software is only part of the equation. Your computer is still only as secure as you are. So in part two we’re going to discuss Safe Surfing habits and how to keep from accidentally opening the gates and letting the mongols in.
The first thing you’re going to have to do is scrap Internet Explorer. A lot of people still think that there are no other options for web browsers if you want to watch videos and do all of the things you love on the web. This is not true. Welcome to the world of Firefox everything Internet Explorer can do, Firefox can do and it’s not as vulnerable to virus and spyware attacks.
Now, if you are really and truly security conscious you can setup what’s known as a Sandbox for your web browser. SVS is a sandbox program that you can use. I recommend using SVS and Mozilla together to visit any unfamiliar website for the first time. If you don’t know what the site is, don’t take the risk that it will infect your PC.
To install SVS just download the SVS Personal package and unpack it. Now run the Software Virtualization Agent installer. When you are asked for a license click “Get it Free” and accept the license, a file will download that has your personal license key, copy it and paste it into the license space. Click next and accept all of the defaults. You’ll have to restart your system once the install is complete. Next download the SVS Trinket, extract the Trinket and double click on the installer, after a final reboot you’ll need to download Firefox for SVS and extract it (If you just MUST HAVE Internet Explorer then here is a link to the virtualization file for it).
The final step is to right click on the little golden disc with a V on it that is now in the system tray near the clock, click Import and navigate to the Firefox VSA file, click open and let it import. Now when you want to launch firefox just right click on that disc and pick Firefox from the list and choose Activate. You’ll see a Virtual Firefox icon appear. Click it and surf.
I know this seems AWFULLY complicated to get set up, but once you’re done your browser launches just like it always has until you unload it and you’re completely safe. But for those who think that’s too much trouble I have an alternate solution below.
If you choose not to use Firefox or SVS then the next section is very important. Do not click on any popup, EVER. I don’t care if it looks like a message from Bill Gates offering you a million dollars to click the ad, it’s a LIE. Do not click popups. Do not click animated ads with monkeys on them. Do not download animated screen savers, do not download animated wall paper. And remember this maxim, there is nothing free on the internet. Everyone is trying to make money in some way. Either through ad revenue, sales, or donations. If someone is giving something away think twice about accepting it. That goes for me too, every product I recommend on this site is a product I use and a product I have an affiliate agreement with. I have ads on the site and requests for donations.
With the sandbox in place you can be a little more relaxed about what you click on because the sandbox prevents any malicious files from being transferred onto your system.
These steps will protect your computer from inadvertently becoming infected by a file you download or a video you watch. Always practice safe web surfing and remember to
I recommend reading the entirety of this article before downloading Sunbelt, with that in mind the first step is obviously going to be to download the program. After that the installation is quite simple. Double click on the icon, accept the license, and then select your installation location. After that you get to the only choice you have in the program installation, Basic or Advanced. I recommend that you choose Advanced because this will give you the most control over the firewall and how it works, and once you’re done with this article you’ll be ready for that, even if you aren’t now. Click next a couple more times and tada. Firewall is installed. At this point choose to Reboot LATER. Now go and disable the Windows Firewall by clicking START -> Control Panel ->Security Center -> Windows Firewall, and choosing Off. Now once you’ve read the rest of the article you can reboot.
When your system reboots and Sunbelt starts it’s going to do a lot of yelling at you at first. If you’ve deported the troublemakers then you can check the ‘Create a rule for this event and don’t ask me again’ box and click ‘Permit’ for each item that comes up.
Once you have clicked your way through this barrage of items you may be left with a box that keeps popping up over and over that looks like this:
If that happens it means you have a process on your pc that is doing something potentially bad. It doesn’t mean you are infected, or compromised, or that some evil Hacker is invading your computer. It just means some software isn’t following the rules. The software in my example is for my Logitech Quickcam. Completely legitimate, but doesn’t follow the rules, so the Firewall is intercepting it. To stop this behavior click the Details button and look at the file location. Find out what the .exe file is and then open the Task Manager, find that EXE and kill it for now, then write the name down somewhere for later.
When you connect to your network Sunbelt will also ask you if the connection is “Trusted” or not. If you are connecting to the internet then the answer is always “NO!”. The internet is not to be trusted. A trusted network would be one with no internet access and which is populated by people you trust. Hence the name. Now you should have cleared all of the pop up boxes from the Firewall and be ready to continue. Now go ahead and open all of your favorite programs one at a time. The ones you use every day like Firefox, Outlook, Pidgin, Yahoo Messenger, AIM, iTunes, etc… this will give you a chance to check the “Create a rule…” box and “Permit” for each one of those applications. Now with that done from this point on you are going to be VERY suspicious of anything that your firewall warns you about.
Adding Exceptions and Configuring your Firewall
You will notice that down in the bottom right hand corner of your desktop, right near the time, is a small blue shield. This is Sunbelt. Double click on that shield and you get the overview screen.
From here you can see which applications are making connections at the moment. You can also click down to Network Security where you can check which applications are trusted and which are not, as well as the action that Sunbelt will take for each program. At the bottom of the list is an entry that defines what Sunbelt does with any program that doesn’t have a specific action. You will also notice the “Network Security Mode” checkbox at the top of the screen; if you uncheck that then the firewall will stop monitoring your network connections. You can change the action by clicking on the symbol to the right of the program in the desired column. For example if I wanted to set Internet Explorer to Deny when on the Internet I would click on the “Ask” symbol twice and change it to “Deny”. If I need to change it back I can click again to return it ti “Ask” and once more to make it “Permit”. I can also select an application and click the “Edit” button to control other behavior like User Alerts and logging. An application doesn’t appear on the Overview until it’s been detected by the firewall at least once. To the left you’ll notice a button that says “Stop All Traffic” this button slams the gates, brings up the drawbridge and readies the boiling oil. If something has gotten past your defenses and is calling in re-enforcements this button will put a stop to that nonsense while you repel the invaders. The other important button is the Web button on the left. This button brings you to a screen where you have the option to enable and disable advertisements, pop-up ads, and other web content like java and activeX. On the Privacy tab you can block cookies, disallow web site history tracking and protect your private data. The last tab there is the very important Site Exceptions where you enter the address of sites that you want to allow everything for. I highly recommend adding http://www.techemperor.com to your exceptions list.
Now, remember that file you wrote down WAY up at the top? It’s time to do something with that. Take the name and search for it using our friends at LIUtilities, once you know what applications the file is being used for go to Start -> Control Panel -> Performance and Maintenance -> Administrator Tools -> Services now find the process that uses the file and double click on it, then choose Manual from the drop down box and click apply. This will stop the program from starting when your PC does. If everything you use continues to work normally then you can leave this item disabled. If something DOESN’T work, then petition me for aid and include the name of the file and the application information from LIUtilities and I will see if I can help you resolve it.
Now you have Sunbelt configured you are well on your way to having a safe and secure system. If you’ve been enlightened by this article please