Archive for March, 2007

Divert Spam with a Junk E-mail Scanner?

Some of the best and most personal ways of deleting and diverting junk e-mail is with a junk e-mail scanner. Junk e-mail scanners can range in size from being designed for business networks to personal computers. This information will focus on the junk e-mail scanners that are just made for personal computers. The most common and best working spam scanners are Mozilla, which is free (the link to download it is below), and Microsoft’s Outlook e-mail program that comes with the Microsoft Office Suite, also containing Word, PowerPoint and Excel, and is on many computers everywhere.

These two programs can be trained to recognize what the user considers spam and which e-mail addresses should always be accepted as non-junk. The programs work by scanning incoming e-mail and moving items that are marked as spam into a junk e-mail folder to be looked at before deletion. If good e-mails are sorted into that junk e-mail folder then the e-mail can be marked as “Not Junk”, moved back into the inbox, and will not be caught as spam again. These work really well as long as the user does not constantly mark questionable e-mails as being valid because the program can become more easily fooled by spam and therefore let more invalid e-mails through. The best thing to do if you like some advertisements is to keep your e-mail likes and dislikes steady so the program can learn what you want to receive.

What is considered junk e-mail or spam?

Junk e-mail, also commonly referred to as spam, is considered any e-mail that is unwanted and unsolicited by the user. Spam now accounts for 50% of the total e-mail traffic on the internet and a great deal of the overall traffic on the internet. It is a huge problem and relatively uncontrollable without causing interruptions in communication for valid e-mail users’ conversations.

This spam problem is very difficult to control because the definition of spam is different for each individual computer user. Some people like to get offers for new products and informational e-mails daily or even hourly, but others are repulsed and overwhelmed by it. This brings up the point that e-mail is very personal and has to be addressed almost on a person by person basis. So you have to ask yourself that question. What do I consider to be Junk e-mail in my e-mail inbox?

What things can a firewall do?

A firewall can prevent any communication from getting to your computer including information that you may want to receive like web pages or e-mails from someone else. You could use a firewall to prevent everything from getting through to your computer and only accomplish the same thing as unplugging your computer from the internet or computer network.

Firewalls are not made to do this, but rather make sure that you keep control of the kind of communication you want your computer to send and receive. This control can help prevent viruses and spyware that do not communicate through the doors that you have left open. They cannot do anything about the communication that passes through those open channels however, so spyware and virus scanners are still critical for protection of the open doors on your computer at all times.

Firewalls are also a security measure taken by nearly all corporate and secure local networks to keep unauthorized people away from confidential data and computer resources. Any computer on the internet without a firewall is wide open for any outside person to attack. These attacks may even take the form of an individual that just wants to see how many computers they can hack into and destroy. The argument that “there is nothing that anyone would want to see on my computer” may be true, but that does not mean that someone won’t do harm to your computer while they are there. This computer hacking is like a hunting sport to computer hackers and your computer is the targeted game.

What is a computer firewall and how does it work?

Firewalls are a software program that monitors the communication on a computer network and/or via the internet and blocks unwanted information from being transmitted on certain channels (port numbers) to the user’s computer.

Firewalls do this similar to the way a person may block certain cable channels from being available to their kids. The communication is still there in the cable but it is not able to get through to the computer or television. Another way to think of it is having multiple doors on your computer that you can lock and unlock. If you leave too many doors open to your computer something or someone unwanted can get in a lot more easily and then cause problems. Firewalls close those doors and make sure that only authorized communication goes on between computers and on the internet.

How to prevent computer viruses from infecting a computer?

Most viruses are very preventable by an up-to-date virus scanner. A virus scanner must be up-to-date because it can only scan for the viruses that it knows how to find and remove. Therefore, an out-of-date virus scanner is just a slight step above having no virus scanner at all. New viruses are created all the time and if the virus scanner is not regularly updated then it is very likely that the new virus will slip right past your defenses.

In order to be secure you need an up-to-date virus scanner constantly running on your computer that scans all of the files coming into the computer from the internet and e-mail for any signs of virus. If one is found then it is blocked, quarantined (placed in a special place on the hard drive where it can not do anything), or deleted, and then the computer user is notified of the potential attack. Firewalls can also help prevent some viruses from getting on your computer. They can do this by blocking communication channels between your computer and others which are unnecessary for the computer to receive information from. More will be discussed regarding firewalls later.

Where do computer viruses come from?

Virus programs come from only a few sources throughout the world. They are created by computer programmers that either have a vendetta against the world and its computer users or just want attention and enjoy seeing the chaos they have created around the world. Many of these virus programmers are attempting to get even with a company that has fired them but end up spreading the virus around the world to do it. Wherever the viruses programs come from they are out there and more and more viruses are created each year to cause computer users problems every day.

What are computer viruses?

Viruses are malicious programs that infect one computer and then try to infect other computers through wires that are connected to other computers. Other types of viruses can also be spread through e-mail attachments that contain the virus and are opened by unsuspecting victims.

Once on your computer, a virus can cause extensive damage to your computer and the data stored on it.Â

Get rid of spyware and prevent it from coming back?

The easiest way to prevent spyware from getting on your computer is with three free programs: Adaware, Spybot, and Spyblaster. Adaware or any of these programs can easily be found on the internet by doing a search for their names on or by looking up the links that are provided at the end of this section. Once a program is found and downloaded from the internet click on it and install it.

(Complete directions for running Spybot and Spyblaster to scan and prevent spyware will follow.) Update the program and search your computer for the annoying spyware programs that are causing you problems. Then remove the problems found by clicking the remove button and you are done. Most problems with popup ads will be solved by using these three programs together, and you should also notice an increase in computer speed if your machine had many of these malicious programs running already.

Prevent spyware from getting on my computer?

The first rule with preventing spyware is not to click on popup ads. If you click them they will multiply and the marketing companies will begin to see you as an easy target for advertising. The act of clicking on popup ads shows that you are an interested audience that will buy almost anything.

A word of caution about spyware and popup ads is that there are companies and people that make their living by putting popup ads on your computer that have sayings like “You have spyware on your computer!!! Click here to remove it.” Ignore these popup ads like you should any other because that is all they are: popup ads. These ads are created by spyware popping ads up on your screen to sell you things. So of course you have spyware on your computer, they put it there. The only difference is this time the spyware removal company has put the spyware there and they want you to buy their program to fix the very spyware that they placed on your computer. This is an underhanded way to make money off of uneducated victims. If you do go ahead and purchase the program it will probably fix the supposed problem they have created until it comes time for them to try to sell you other things.

Some other gimmicks like this are programs sold by companies to help speed up your computer because the spyware put on your computer by the same company is slowing it down so much. Popup ads are not supposed to be on your computer in the first place so if they are there then something must be wrong and spyware needs to be removed and the damage fixed. The best thing is not to trust or click on any popup ads on your computer but to remove the cause of the problem with Spybot or Adaware. Just click the gray X in the top right corner of the advertising window and forget about it, no matter how enticing the deal seems.

The next rule is to avoid downloading free screensavers or other programs that are not trusted or tested by computer technicians. The saying is true for the internet as well as in life that there is no such thing as a free lunch because a lot of these free programs on the internet install spyware on your computer without you ever knowing it when you install these free programs on your computer. These free programs are doing a lot more than what you want them to do on your computer and once on your computer they can not be prevented from collecting personal data about you or showing you hundreds of popup ads.

What does spyware do to your computer?

Spyware’s main purposes are to collect information about where you surf on the internet and what kind of things you buy online, and to display popup ads in response to the clicks of your mouse. These little annoyances are enough by themselves but spyware can cause much greater havoc than that. This havoc comes from the kind of people that write the programs that collect the information and display the popup ads. They are people that don’t ever see your pain and frustration as ad after ad keep popping up as long as you keep clicking on them.

Where does spyware come from?

Spyware comes from the internet and/or programs that are downloaded from the internet. Before people began putting computers on the internet spyware was not even thought of, but now that there are millions of computers on the internet talking to each other it is becoming a huge problem. Some might say that these programs cause more damage and problems than computer viruses, which until recently were considered to be the biggest problem since the internet began.

To understand where spyware comes from you have to know who makes it. There are computer programmers in the world that make their living by tracking where you go, what you do on the internet, what websites you visit, and how long you look at a page. Even sensitive personal information such as your birth date and social security number are not above what some of these programmers will collect to make money. Most of the computer programmers who create and use spyware programs to track your internet use sell this information to marketing companies and others that want to advertise to you if you are interested in the items they are selling.

What is spyware?

Spyware can be defined as a program that is installed on your computer intentionally or unintentionally that performs some kind of action to market products and collect data about the user of the computer.Â

Spyware gone bad — Malware

Malware is the next generation of spyware. It is malicious software that infects your computer much like a virus or spyware does but does things that compromise the computer for security. These programs will log your user names, passwords, stored information in files on your computer such as birth dates, Social Security Numbers for intent to use them to steal and compromise you identity.

Not all virus programs will look for them so be sure to find out if yours does. Keep it up to date and run it often and you will get keep most of these programs off your computer and find the ones that make it through. Here is a great free package of software programs that Google provides for your security and it is free so download it. It comes with spyware/malware detector, virus scanner, and image editing software. You can select to install some or all of the the items but they are all things I use on a daily basis.

Let me know if you have a spyware remove program that works good for you.