Computer Help for Seniors and Other Newbies


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Some of the many signs that your computer is infected with a virus, worm, or spyware (all together known as malware):

  • Internet browsing speed may be slow.
  • Your computer, in general, may be slower that it was and may take much longer to start up than it used to.
  • Your computer crashes and freezes more often
  • The home page for your browser has changed and you can't change it back
  • New favorites that you didn't create may appear
  • A new toolbar may appear or you may end up at unknown web sites when you try to do a search.
  • You can't always get to the webpage you want - often being directed to an unknown directory page
  • Removed or disabled Internet Options from the Tools Menu and from the Control Panel.
  • If you try to reset your home page and can't, it's likely due to malware.
  • If you can't get to anti-virus or security web sites, but can get to other web sites, it's likely due to malware.
  • Pop-up advertisements appear, even when you're not on the Web
  • A constant barrage of ads for pornographic web sites.
  • Malicious software may also shut down or disable your anti-virus program or your firewall program. It may prevent the normal activity of your anti-Spyware software.
  • Adware programs may create new icons on the Windows desktop, task bar, or system tray.
  • They may also create popup windows that you are unable to close.
  • If your computer mysteriously dials the phone on its own, it may be infected with a porn dialing program.
  • Unexpected messages or images are suddenly displayed
  • Unusual sounds or music played at random
  • Your CD-ROM tray mysteriously opens and closes
  • Programs suddenly start on your computer
  • Your friends mention that they have received messages from you but you never sent such messages
  • Your mailbox contains many messages without the sender's email address or header.
  • Windows won’t load
  • Files and folders are suddenly missing or their content changes
  • The light on your computer’s main unit flashes rapidly and you are not doing anything on it.
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer "freezes" or displays unpredictable behavior, (for example you cannot close the application window).

Click here: Links to FREE security software programs

Your home computer is a popular target for intruders. Why? Because intruders want what you’ve stored there. They look for credit card numbers, bank account information, and anything else they can find. By stealing that information, intruders can use your money to buy themselves goods and services.


Software programs called Remote-Access Trojans, known as Rats, secretly record your every keystroke and transmit passwords, account numbers, and other personal information to criminals.

Rats can nest in Internet files, free online software or games, e-mail greeting cards, images or pictures, and disreputable Internet sites.

Protect yourself with a few easy steps:

Update your operating systems and Internet browser. How? Go to your operating system’s company Web site to find the latest system software, which may include fixes for security vulnerabilities.

To update browser software, you can download it free from the vendors Web site or request a CD with the newest version on it.

Install firewall, antispyware, and antivirus software. Don’t open e-mails or images from unfamiliar senders.

Never download files or images from questionable Internet sites.

You can hand your PC (or your identity) over to hackers, spyware applications, and advertising agencies.

Below is a link to a page that explains how this can happen.

phishing - The act of sending an e-mail to a user falsely claiming to be an established legitimate enterprise in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft. The e-mail directs the user to visit a Web site where they are asked to update personal information, such as passwords and credit card, social security, and bank account numbers, that the legitimate organization already has. The Web site, however, is bogus and set up only to steal the user’s information.

Click here: Here are 10 antiphishing tips from Cloudmark, in association with Carnegie Mellon University:

Thinking About Securing Your Home Computer?
Things You Ought To Know
What Should I Do To Secure My Home Computer?

Task 1 - Install and Use Anti-Virus Programs
Task 2 - Keep Your System Patched
Task 3 - Use Care When Reading Email with Attachments
Task 4 - Install and Use a Firewall Program
Task 5 - Make Backups of Important Files and Folders
Task 6 - Use Strong Passwords
Task 7 - Use Care When Downloading and Installing Programs
Task 8 - Install and Use a Hardware Firewall
Task 9 - Install and Use a File Encryption Program and Access Controls

Click here: Securing Your Home Computer

Spyware Stoppers: PC Magazine's Review of the Best

Renegade programs can slip onto your system in an instant--and they can be maddeningly difficult to banish. Our tests reveal the most powerful tools for fighting back.

A Word To The Wise!

Don't download any attachments from senders you don't know or files that you haven't requested. Email is the primary way people get viruses on their computer. This one simple step of not downloading attached files from people you don't know will save you so much time and trouble in the future. Even if a friend sends you a file that they don't tell you that their sending, don't open it, because some viruses auto-sends from other people's computers. So if your friend got infected with a virus he/she might pass it on to you without knowing it. So file attachments, unless you're 100% sure of what they are, should not be open! Get an Anti-Virus program. Don't worry you don't have to spend lots of money, how does free sound? Yes, one of the best Anti-Virus programs out there happens to be FREE. You can download AVG Antivirus by Grisoft . This program will scan email attachments and will stop them before they infect your system.

Click here: Get AVG Anti-Virus Free

Tools To Prevent Identity Theft

The FTC received over 255,000 identity theft complaints in 2005. The true number of victims is likely much greater, and growing. Many people aren't sure how to report signs of fraud. Worse, many victims may be unaware that anything is amiss.

Tools to prevent identity theft

Security Super Guide: Top 10 Security Threats - PC Magazine.

Time was when someone mentioned the word "security," your first thought would be the deadbolt on your front door, the PIN for your bank account, or maybe even your car alarm. Nowadays there's a whole new world of threats out there, and they could all be sitting right in your living room or office, courtesy of your PC. With the flood of spyware, adware, viruses, and Trojan horses lurking around online, there also comes a wave of security products and services to keep you and your family safe.


PC Magazine's Security Super Guide

Your Identity Has Been Stolen: a 24-Point Recovery Checklist

If you are between the ages of 18 to 29 and you live in Phoenix or Los Angeles, your chances for identity theft are higher than the national average according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). But, if you're over age thirty and you live in Somerset, Vermont (population 5), don't wipe the sweat off your brow just yet. Identity theft can occur through numerous methods, and you could be the next victim no matter where you live or your age.

Identity theft accounted for 255,000 — or 37 percent — of more than 686,683 complaints registered with the FTC in 2005. These figures mark the sixth year in a row where identity theft has topped the list of complaints filed with this agency. The most commonly reported form of identity theft was credit card fraud, followed by phone or utilities fraud, and bank (electronic funds transfer) and employment fraud.

You can reduce your risks for identity theft, but you don't have control over government agencies, hospitals, or retail stores that manage to lose your personal information. The following list will walk you through the steps that will help you recover your identity and restore your credit rating.

24-Point Recovery Checklist

Trend Micro Hijack

This is a free utility that generates an in depth report of registry and file settings from your computer. Hijack This makes no separation between safe and unsafe settings in its scan results giving you the ability to selectively remove items from your scan results identified as malicious or unwanted from your machine. In addition to this scan and remove capability HijackThis comes with several tools useful in manually removing malware from a computer.

Get it from CNET!

How to Recognize "Spoofed" Web Sites

According to Computerworld, the number of spoofed Web sites--fake Web sites that look like legitimate sites but are designed to steal your personal information--nearly tripled between March and April. The best way to help protect yourself? Verify that the site you're visiting is secure and authentic using these techniques.

The Microsoft Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool checks computers running Windows XP, Windows 2000, and Windows Server 2003 for infections by specific, prevalent malicious software.
Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool

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