T1 Personal Productivity Using IT
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P L U G - I N
T1
Personal Productivity Using IT
L EAR N IN G OUT C O ME S
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Describe the four steps you can use to create a strong password.
Identify three tips you can use to manage your files.
Explain why you would use Microsoft’s backup and recovery utility.
Describe the six common e-mail mistakes.
Explain spam and phishing and identify three ways that you can prevent each.
Explain the primary uses of spyware and adware.
Identify three things you can do to maintain your computer and keep it running
smoothly.
8. Explain why you would install anti-virus protection software.
9. Describe the need for a personal firewall.
Introduction
A number of things can be done to keep a personal computer running smoothly
and to protect it from such things as spyware and identity theft (see Figure T1.1). A
few of these important items are covered in this plug-in, including:
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Creating strong passwords.
Performing good file management.
Implementing effective backup and recovery strategies.
Using Zip files.
Writing professional e-mails.
Stopping spam.
Preventing phishing.
Detecting spyware.
Restricting instant messaging.
Increasing PC performance.
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Using anti-virus software.
Installing a personal firewall.
Creating Strong
Passwords
File Management
Passwords
Anti-Virus
Spyware
Backup
Recovery
Performance
If you have ever lost your wallet or your purse,
you know the sense of vulnerability that comes Instant Messaging
with it. Someone might be walking around
with your identification, pretending to be you.
If someone stole your passwords, he could
Firewall
do the same thing online. A hacker could be
Phishing
opening new credit card accounts, applying
for mortgages, or chatting online disguised as
you—and you would not know it until it was too late.
You probably already know not to create passwords using any combination of
consecutive numbers or letters such as “12345678,” “lmnopqrs,” or adjacent letters
on your keyboard such as “qwerty.” In addition, never use your log-in name, your
pet’s name, or your birthday, or a word that can be found in the dictionary as a
password. Hackers use sophisticated tools that can rapidly guess passwords based
on words in the dictionary in different languages, even common words spelled
backward.
If you use a common word as your password, you might think you are protected
if you replace letters of that word with numbers or symbols that look like the letters
such as M1cr0$0ft or [email protected] Unfortunately, hackers know these tricks too. The
following are four steps you can use to create strong passwords:
1.
2.
3.
4.
ZIP Files
E-Mail
Spam
FIGURE T1.1
Maintaining
and Protecting
Your Computer
Create strong passwords that you can remember.
Keep your passwords a secret.
Manage your passwords.
Monitor your accounts.
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CREATE STRONG PASSWORDS THAT YOU CAN REMEMBER
You could come up with a completely random combination of numbers and symbols for a password, but that is not very practical. How would you remember it?
Chances are you would write it down and keep it in the top drawer of your desk,
and then it is no longer such a great password. A strong password has at least eight
characters; includes a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols; and is easy
for you to remember, but difficult for others to guess.
The easiest way to create a strong password that you will not have to write down
is to come up with a passphrase. A passphrase is a sentence that you can remember,
like “My favorite group is Cold Play and my favorite song is Arches.” You can make
a strong password by using the first letter of each word of the sentence, for example, mfgicpamfsia. However, you can make this password even stronger by using a
combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters that
look like letters. For example, using the same memorable sentence and a few tricks,
your password is now MfGicp&[email protected]
If you think that is still too hard to remember, you could try a more common
phrase, such as “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” If you are using a common
phrase make sure to inject at least one number or symbol into the password, such
as U([email protected]
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KEEP YOUR PASSWORDS A SECRET
Keeping your passwords safe means keeping them a secret. Do not give them to
friends, and do not write them down and keep them at your desk or in an unprotected file on your computer. Your house could get broken into, or, more likely, you
may give a friend access to your computer or your desk and that friend may not
have the best motives when it comes to your privacy.
Even if you know not to write down your passwords or give them away to friends,
you should also be wary when giving them to the Web site where you created the
password in the first place. Microsoft, eBay, Amazon, PayPal, or any other reputable
company will never ask you to send your password through e-mail. If you receive a
request for your password, Social Security number, or other sensitive information via
e-mail, notify the company immediately by phone or through the company Web site.
MANAGE YOUR PASSWORDS
The safest password technique is to create a new, strong password for every Web
site or log-in that requests one. This is almost as impractical as remembering a long
string of random characters. An easier solution is to create a handful of strong passwords and use those at sites you want to keep most secure, such as your bank, brokerage, or bill paying company. Then create another small set of easier to remember
passwords that you can use everywhere else.
Remember, a strong password is one you change every few months. Just as you
schedule updates, back up software, and clean out old programs, you should also
regularly change passwords.
MONITOR YOUR ACCOUNTS
Creating stronger passwords can help protect you against identity theft. However,
it does not guarantee that you are protected. If someone does steal your passwords,
the faster you catch on and notify authorities, the less damage a hacker can do. Make
sure to monitor all your monthly financial statements, and call the appropriate company or bank immediately to report issues. Also, review your credit report each year.
Performing Good File Management
Computer users today work with large numbers of different kinds of files such as
documents, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, and others. Keeping these files
organized can be a task in itself. A couple of minutes a few times a day searching for
files can add up. The key to minimizing this time is good file management.
The best way to manage files effectively is a lot like managing paper files. They
can be organized into folders and then stored in specific locations and recalled
quickly when you need them. Just like paper files and folders, if you do not have
a good way to organize them, they will get lost and you could spend hours searching for files. Whether you save your files on your computer’s hard drive or a shared
network location, the tips displayed in Figure T1.2 can help save time and reduce
the headaches of searching for files. The tips mentioned in Figure T1.2 are much
the same for Windows XP and Vista. Some versions of either operating system will
have minor differences.
Implementing Effective Backup
and Recovery Strategies
Tracie Whiteley lost everything in a flash. When she left for work, her home computer was fine. When she came home, all the clocks in the house were blinking
12:00, and her computer was dark. There had been a lightning storm that day.
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FIGURE T1.2
Tips for Managing Your Files
1. Use My Documents––To open My Documents in Windows, click Start, and then click My
Documents. My Documents provides an easy way for you to store your personal documents and
perform the following:
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Find files—It is easy to access the My Documents folder (and its subfolders) in many different
places in Windows including the Start menu, the task pane in Windows Explorer, common
File Open and File Save dialog boxes, and other places. (Note: Windows Explorer displays the
structure of files and folders on your computer. To open Windows Explorer, click Start, point
to All Programs, point to Accessories, and then click Windows Explorer.)
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Back up files—Keeping all your files in one place is an essential first step in developing a
practical backup strategy.
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Keep files separate from programs—Separating personal files from program files reduces
the risk of accidentally deleting personal files when you install or upgrade programs.
File Management
Tips
2. Limit file name length—Even though Windows allows long file names, it is not always a good
idea. Long file names produce cluttered displays. Short file names promote clarity. Let your
folders do some of the naming. For example, rather than create a file called Fall08 MIS2275
Assignment Chapter One.doc, you can build a file structure similar to the sample below.
3. Archive completed work—To keep the My Documents folder from becoming unmanageable,
store only files you are currently working on. This reduces the number of files you need to
search through and the amount of data you need to back up. Every month or so, move the files
you are no longer working on to a different folder or location, preferably not in My Documents.
You can archive them on a folder on your desktop (you could even label it Archives) or move
them to a backup tape or recordable CD. This limits the size of your My Documents folder, which
you should back up frequently.
4. Use shortcuts instead of multiple copies—If you need to get to the same file from multiple
locations, do not create copies of the file. Create shortcuts to it instead. To create a shortcut,
right-click on the file and click Create Shortcut. You can drop-and-drag the shortcut to other
locations. Put a shortcut to My Documents on the desktop.
5. Use abbreviations—Keep file names short by using common abbreviations, such as “MTG”
for meeting or “ACTG” for accounting. This makes the file names more descriptive, and you
can more easily find files through Search if it is necessary. To make it easier to search for
documents, name your files and folders with easily found names, such as model numbers,
project names, or the project lead in the title.
6. Use thumbnails—Search through folders in the Thumbnail view. They are easier to see and
you can put a picture or clip art on the folder so that it is more recognizable. For example, a
folder that contains information about a product can have a picture of the product, or something
else that reminds you of the folder contents. To view your folder list in Thumbnail view, on the
My Documents folder, in the toolbar click View and then select Thumbnail. To put a picture
on the folder, right-click the folder and click Properties. In the Properties dialog box, click the
Customize tab. In the Folder pictures area, click Choose Picture.
7. Do not save unnecessary files—Be selective about the files you keep. You probably do not need
to keep them all. With e-mail, for example, you rarely need to keep everything you receive.
8. Use My Recent Documents—To find a file you just worked on, use My Recent Documents in the
Start menu.
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Whiteley, a finance specialist at a large automation technology company, said,
“The computer was on when I left for work, and it was not on when I came home.
When I tried to start it there was a burning smell and smoke. Everything inside it
was fried.” Whiteley lost both professional and personal data in that storm. The
computer held the only copies of her family’s e-mail messages, school projects,
finances, and letters. “All our information disappeared,” she says. “The computer
had to be replaced.”
You can unintentionally lose information on a computer in many ways—a child
playing the keyboard like a piano, a power surge, lightning, a flood, and even equipment failures. If you regularly make backup copies of your files and keep them in a
separate place, you can get some, if not all, of your information back if something
happens to the originals on your computer.
DETERMINING WHAT TO BACK UP
Deciding what to back up is highly personal. Anything you cannot replace easily
should be at the top of your list. The key to a successful backup is getting a copy
of your data off your hard drive. Do not try to copy programs like Microsoft Word
or Excel; they can be reinstalled from the original CDs you purchased. Likewise,
the operating system software—Windows itself and any software provided by your
computer manufacturer—can usually be recovered from the installation or “System
Restore” CDs that came with the computer. Before you get started, make a checklist
of files to back up. This will help you determine what to back up, and give you a
reference list in the event you need to retrieve a backed-up file. Here are some file
suggestions to get you started:
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Bank records and other financial information.
Digital photographs.
Software purchased and downloaded from the Internet.
Music purchased and downloaded from the Internet.
Personal documents.
E-mail address book.
There are several different types of external storage for your backup files including Zip disks, external hard drives, recordable CDs, DVDs, tape cartridges, and flash
drives. You can even upload your data to an Internet-based file storage service such
as www.mydocsonline.com.
To find the solution that is best for you, compare the convenience, price, and
ease of use offered by each approach. For example, a recordable CD costs much
less than an external hard drive, but an external hard drive can hold as much as
100 CDs.
HOW TO BACK UP YOUR COMPUTER FILES
A simple backup in Windows XP or Vista requires no special software or skills. To
copy a file or folder, just right-click on the file or folder and select Copy from the
pop-up menu that appears. Choose the disk or drive where you want to store the
duplicate copy, right-click again and then select Paste from the pop-up menu. It is
that easy. Be sure to label the backup disks clearly, noting the date and time of the
backup. Do not erase the previous backup until you have made a newer one.
You can also copy files in Windows operating systems using a drag-and-drop
method—hold down the right mouse button while dragging a file or folder, then
select Copy Here from the pop-up menu that appears.
Your e-mail messages and address book list can be exported and then backed
up along with other personal data. This process varies depending on which e-mail
software is used on your computer.
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Perform Regular Backups
How often should you back up your data? If you use your computer occasionally,
a weekly backup might be enough. If you use your computer every day, a daily
backup is a good idea. Whatever backup option you choose, be sure to check that
it works. Duplicate a single folder or group of files, and then try to recover those
backup files to a different drive or folder. Do not wait until it is too late to find that
the restore process does not work.
MICROSOFT’S BACKUP AND RECOVER UTILITY
Microsoft’s Backup Utility and Recovery Console are installed by default on
Windows XP Professional and Vista.
Backup Utility Windows XP
The Backup Utility in Windows XP helps you protect your data if your hard disk fails
or files are accidentally erased due to hardware or storage media failure. By using
Backup, you can create a duplicate copy of all the data on your hard disk and then
archive it on another storage device, such as a hard disk or a CD. If the original
data on your hard disk is accidentally erased or overwritten, or becomes inaccessible because of a computer malfunction, you can easily restore it from the disk
or archived copy by using the Restore or Automated System Recovery Wizards. To
start Backup or to access Restore and Automated System Recovery:
1. Click Start and then click All Programs.
2. Select Accessories, then System Tools, and then Backup.
Recovery Console Windows XP
You can use the Recovery Console to perform many tasks without starting Windows
XP, including starting and stopping services, reading and writing information on
a local disk drive, and formatting drives. However, you must install the Recovery
Console while your computer is still functioning. The Recovery Console feature
should be used only by advanced users. Before using the Recovery Console, it is recommended that you back up your information on a CD, because your local hard
disks might be reformatted—thus erased—as part of the recovery. You can also run
the Recovery Console from the Windows XP CD. To install the Recovery Console as
a Startup option:
1. Log on to Windows XP as an administrator or as a user with administrator rights.
If your computer is connected to a network, network policy settings may prevent
you from completing this procedure. If this is the case, contact your network
administrator for assistance.
2. Insert the Windows XP CD into your CD drive. If you are prompted to upgrade to
Windows XP, click No.
3. From the command prompt—or from the Run command in the Start menu—
type the path to the appropriate Winnt32.exe file (on your Windows XP CD),
followed by a space and/cmdcons to reference this switch. For example: e:\i386\
winnt32.exe/cmdcons.
4. Follow the instructions that appear.
To run the Recovery Console on a computer if Windows XP does not start:
1. Restart your computer, and then choose Windows Recovery Console from the
list of operating system options.
2. Follow the instructions that appear. Recovery Console displays a command
prompt.
3. Make the required changes to your system.
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Backup Utility Windows Vista
Windows Vista comes with a new backup utility named CompletePC Backup,
which will allow you to create an image file of your partitions in case they need
to be restored. This is somewhat similar to what third-party applications such as
Norton’s Ghost do. Once a backup is created, you can use the System Recovery
options from your Vista DVD to restore a previously created backup.
CompletePC Backup is a complete backup copy of the selected partitions;
however, they cannot be used to restore individual files, folders, or settings. The
backup files created include a series of XML files, catalogs, and the main image.
CompletePC Backup is not included with Windows Vista Home Basic or Windows
Vista Home Premium. This tool is part of a number of Backup tools that ship with
Windows Vista, including a new automatic file backup and restore utility.
To create a backup you will need a backup drive, backup partition, or a series of
DVDs. To start CompletePC Backup:
1. Click Start, then All Programs
2. Select Accessories, then System Tools, and then click Backup. This will open the
Backup and Restore Configuration. From here, click on the CompletePC Backup
icon. You will then see the last successful backup name and location (if there is
one). Click the Create Backup button to continue.
3. CompletePC Backup will then scan your system for suitable backup locations (if
you plan on saving to DVD, make sure you have a blank writeable DVD in your
DVD writer). You may then choose your backup location from suitable locations
(you cannot save to your system partition). Once you have chosen the location,
click the Next button.
4. If you have multiple partitions, you will then be able to choose which partitions
to back up; by default the system partition is always backed up. When choosing
the partitions to back up, you will be shown the space required to back up the
selected partitions, as well as the space available on your backup drive. Once the
partitions are selected, click Next.
5. You will then be given an opportunity to confirm your settings with information
on the location the backup will be saved to, as well as the partitions to be backed
up. If everything is correct, click the Save settings and start backup button.
Recovery Console Using Windows Vista
Once your backup has been created, if you ever have a problem with your current
installation, or have data corruption on any of the partitions you have backed up,
you can restore these partitions easily through the recovery console on the Vista
DVD.
To use Vista’s recovery console:
1. Insert your Vista DVD and boot from it. You will see the loading files screen, then
the first installation screen will appear.
2. Click Next on first screen, then click the link that says Recovery options.
3. You will then see a System Recovery options dialog—select your keyboard layout
and click Next.
4. Windows will search for any valid installations; once this is completed, click
Next.
5. You are then presented with the following options: Startup Repair, System
Restore, CompletePC Restore, Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool, and Command
Prompt. Select CompletePC Restore.
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6. From the Windows Disaster Recovery Dialog, you can either select the recommended backup or select a specific date and time from available backups. Once
you have selected the backup you want to restore, click Next.
7. You will then have the option to erase and format all disks, or just restore the
system partition. Check the appropriate box, then click Finish.
8. There will be a final prompt to confirm Disaster Recovery with a warning that
the selected disk(s) will be formatted and all current data lost. Check the box to
confirm, and click OK.
Using Zip Files
Compressing files, folders, and programs decreases their size and reduces the
amount of space they use on your hard drives or removable storage devices. Folders
that are compressed using the Compressed (zipped) Folders feature use less drive
space and can be transferred to other computers more quickly. You can work with
a compressed folder and the files or programs it contains just as you would an
uncompressed folder. Once you have created a compressed folder (identified by
the zipper on the folder icon), you can compress files, programs, or other folders by
dragging them to it. You can open files directly from compressed folders, or you can
extract files before opening them. You can run some programs directly from zipped
compressed folders, without decompressing them. However, to run programs that
are dependent on other files, you must first extract them. Figure T1.3 displays a few
of the features in the Windows Compressed (zipped) Folders. Both Windows XP
and Vista zip and unzip files in the same way.
TO CREATE A ZIPPED COMPRESSED FOLDER
1. Right-click a file or folder, point at Send To, then select Compressed (zipped)
Folder.
2. You can identify compressed folders by the zipper on the folder icon.
TO ADD FILES TO A ZIPPED COMPRESSED FOLDER
1. Open My Computer, and then locate the compressed folder.
2. Drag files into the compressed folder to compress them.
FIGURE T1.3
Features of Windows Zipped Files
Zip File Features
You can run some programs directly from compressed folders without decompressing them. You
can also open files directly from compressed folders.
Zipped compressed files and folders can be moved to any drive or folder on your computer, the
Internet, or your network, and they are compatible with other file compression programs.
Folders compressed using this feature are identified by a zipper icon.
You can protect files in a zipped compressed folder with a password. This protects your data if you
save it in a shared network folder, attach it to an e-mail message, or move it between work and
home on a USB drive.
Using Compressed (zipped) Folders will not decrease your computer’s performance.
To compress individual files using Compressed (zipped) Folders, create a compressed folder and
then move or copy the files to that folder.
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TO EXTRACT FILES FROM A ZIPPED COMPRESSED FOLDER
1. Open My Computer, and then locate the compressed folder. Do one of the
following:
a. To extract a single file or folder, double-click the compressed folder to open it.
Then, drag the file or folder from the compressed folder to a new location.
b. To extract all files or folders, right-click the compressed folder, and then click
Extract All. In the Compressed (zipped) Folders Extraction Wizard, specify
where you want to store the extracted files.
2. When you extract a file, a compressed version remains in the compressed folder.
To delete the compressed version, right-click the file, and then click Delete.
3. When you extract a file from a compressed folder that is password-protected, the
extracted file is no longer protected.
TO OPEN A ZIPPED COMPRESSED FOLDER
1. You open a compressed folder the same way you open other folders in Windows:
Double-click the compressed folder.
2. You can identify compressed folders by the zipper on the folder icon.
3. To view percentages of compression and other file information for a compressed
folder, on the View menu, click Details.
4. When you open or view compressed folders, you cannot use the Up or Back buttons on the toolbar, or move up or down levels from the folder.
Writing Professional E-Mails
E-mail is almost like talking. We use it so much that we do not always think about it.
But there are rules and courtesies, just as there are with verbal conversation. There
are other considerations involved in communicating by written word only. Giving
an e-mail additional thought could make your e-mail experience more satisfying
and your recipients much happier. Figure T1.4 displays six common e-mail mistakes to avoid.
In addition, be careful about sharing your e-mail or instant message address.
Figure T1.5 displays several methods you can use to protect your e-mail address.
NETIQUETTE 101
Surfing the Internet can be fun, useful, and social. But it is important for all new
Internet citizens, also called netizens, to remember that there are other surfers
out there. Like real surfing or any other public activity, there are implied rules of
behavior or etiquette to follow. Failing to grasp the netizen ropes could result in
more than just missed opportunities—saying the wrong thing at the wrong time
could provoke harassment or other problems. The following sections provide a few
guidelines that can help you to handle almost any situation in cyberspace.
Using Emoticons
It is often difficult to convey emotion, intent, or tone through text alone. Early
Internet users invented emoticons, which are virtual facial expressions made from
basic keyboard characters, like the colon and right parentheses (emoticons lie on
their sides at 90 degrees).
Here are some examples of commonly used emoticons:
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:-) Happy or joking.
;-) Winking.
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FIGURE T1.4
Six Common E-Mail Mistakes to Avoid
1. Failing to follow e-mail etiquette—An old adage states, “You catch more flies with honey than
with vinegar.” Here are a few points to consider:
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Try not to write or respond to an e-mail when you are angry; wait 24 hours. Calm down. Be
reasonable. Have someone else edit your e-mail.
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Try not to use sarcasm. You may think you are clever, but the recipient will not always agree
and might even fail to realize that you are being sarcastic.
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DO NOT USE ALL UPPERCASE LETTERS. This is the e-mail equivalent of YELLING. Your
recipient will not be appreciative. Go easy on the exclamation marks, too. Overuse dulls their
effectiveness.
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Use clear subject lines. That will help people decide whether to read the e-mail now or later.
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Keep it short. If your e-mail is more than two paragraphs, maybe you should use the
telephone.
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Limit what you forward. Unless the recipient has previously agreed, do not forward poems,
jokes, virus warnings, and other things. You are just wasting valuable time and bandwidth.
Common E-Mail
Mistakes
2. Attempting anonymity—If you are sending nasty or inappropriate messages, you might think no
one will be able to figure out that the e-mail came from you. After all, you set up a phony Web
address. Think again. E-mail contains invisible information about the sender. That information is
in the header. All major e-mail programs can display header information. Remember the header
if you are tempted to send an anonymous e-mail. You may be less anonymous than you think.
3. Sending e-mail to the wrong person—Today’s e-mail programs want to make it easy to send
e-mail. This means that when you start typing the address of a recipient to whom you have
previously sent mail, the “To:” field may already be populated. Be careful. Always double-check
that the recipient is the intended one.
4. Using one e-mail address for everything—Try to have different e-mail addresses for work and
for personal use. Some people have four or more different e-mail addresses: private, public,
one for online mailing lists, and another for online shopping. These addresses attract mail for
those specific areas. Most e-mail providers will give users a half-dozen e-mail accounts. You
can also use addresses on the Web for personal accounts. Both Hotmail and Yahoo! are good
choices.
5. Clicking “Send” too fast—Reread every e-mail before you send it. E-mails with misspellings
and missing words typically end up in the same place: the garbage. Try not to depend on the
spell-checker. It will catch misspellings. But if you use “four” instead of “for,” or “your” for
“you’re,” it will not tell you. It also is not likely to catch any missing words in a sentence that
you inadvertently failed to include. So take a minute and reread your text.
6. Forgetting the attachment—This seems obvious, but it happens frequently. When you get ready
to send your e-mail, think: “What am I forgetting?”
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:-( Unhappy.
:-| Ambivalent.
:-o Surprised or concerned.
:-x Not saying anything.
:-p Sticking out your tongue (usually in fun).
Learning Online Acronyms
Another method of streamlining communication is the use of acronyms. Because
typing takes longer than speaking, savvy netizens like to reduce common phrases
to a few simple letters. Here are some examples of commonly used acronyms:
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ASAP (As soon as possible).
BBL (Be back later).
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FIGURE T1.5
Protecting Your E-Mail Address
Protecting Your E-Mail
Address
Share your primary e-mail address only with people you know. Avoid listing your e-mail address
in large Internet directories and job-posting Web sites. Do not even post it on your own Web site
(unless you disguise it as described below).
Set up an e-mail address dedicated solely to Web transactions. Consider using a free e-mail
service to help keep your primary e-mail address private. When you get too much spam there,
simply drop it for a new one.
Create an e-mail name that is tough to crack. Try a combination of letters, numbers, and other
characters—[email protected] or [email protected] (substituting zero for the
letter “O”). Research shows that people with such names get less junk e-mail.
Disguise your e-mail address. When you post your address to a newsgroup, chat room, bulletin board,
or other public Web page, add some camouflage such as SairajUdin AT example DOT com. This way,
a person can interpret your address, but the automated programs that spammers use often cannot.
Watch out for prechecked boxes. When you buy things online, companies sometimes preselect
check boxes to indicate that it is fine to sell or give your e-mail address to responsible parties.
Clear the check box if you do not want to be contacted.
Read the privacy policy. When you sign up for Web-based services such as banking, shopping, or
a newsletter, carefully read the privacy policy before revealing your e-mail address so you do not
unwittingly agree to share confidential information. The privacy policy should outline the terms and
circumstances regarding if or how the site will share your information. If a Web site does not post
a privacy statement, consider taking your business elsewhere.
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BRB (Be right back).
LOL (Laughing out loud).
ROFL (Rolling on the floor laughing).
BTW (By the way).
OIC (Oh, I see).
CUL (See you later).
OTOH (On the other hand).
GMTA (Great minds think alike).
IMHO (In my humble opinion).
RUOK? (Are you OK?).
TIA (Thanks in advance).
J/K (Just kidding).
TTFN (Ta-ta for now).
Stopping Spam
If you send or receive e-mail, you have probably received junk e-mail, also known
as spam. Unfortunately, spam is not always limited to e-mail. It has spilled over
to instant messages (IM) as well and has become enough of a problem for instant
messaging spam to warrant its own word, spim. And now there is yet another term,
spit (spam over Internet telephony). All are challenges and threats to data security.
Spam, spim, spit . . . what could possibly be next?
Recent research estimates that 80 percent or more of all e-mail sent these days
is spam. An astonishing figure, yet you may see only a tiny portion of that deluge.
Many Internet service providers (ISPs) or e-mail programs provide junk e-mail
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filters that serve as the first line of defense against spam. Nearly 90 percent of
messages at Microsoft’s MSN Hotmail are spam; 95 percent of these messages
never reach their target. For example, MSN Hotmail uses patented Microsoft
SmartScreen Technology and other tools to keep more than 5 billion messages
from reaching its customers’ e-mail accounts every day.1
Sending spam is a lucrative business. It costs spammers next to nothing to send
out millions, even billions, of e-mail messages. In addition, consider this: If even a
tiny percentage of a hundred million people buy something in response to a junk
message, that is a lot of sales! According to a report by the Pew Internet & American
Life Project, an independent research organization, 5 percent of U.S. e-mail users—
or 6 million people—said they had ordered a product or service as a result of unsolicited e-mail.2
HOW DO SPAMMERS GET E-MAIL ADDRESSES?
Spammers steal, swap, or buy lists of valid e-mail addresses (and the addresses of
people who have responded to spam command a premium). Spammers also build
their own lists using special software that rapidly generates millions of random
e-mail addresses from well-known providers, such as MSN Hotmail and others, and
then sends messages to these addresses. Invalid e-mail accounts return e-mail to
the sender, so the software very rapidly records which e-mail addresses are active
and which are not.
Some spammers also gather or harvest addresses from Web sites where people
sign up for free offers, enter contests, and so on. Harvesters may also use programs
(known as Web bots) that trawl for e-mail addresses anywhere they are posted for
all to see—on Internet white pages, job postings, newsgroups, message boards,
chat rooms, and even personal Web pages.
HOW TO HANDLE SPAM
Despite your best efforts, you no doubt have received e-mail and instant messages you did not request. Figure T1.6 displays a few things you can do to help stop
spam.
Preventing Phishing
A new form of spam e-mail is on the horizon. This spam is more than just unwanted
and annoying. It could lead to the theft of credit card numbers, passwords, account
information, or other personal data. Thieves use a method known as phishing to
send e-mail or instant message spam that meticulously imitates messages from
reputable, well-known companies, including Microsoft and others. The forged
message capitalizes on your trust of the respected brand by enticing you to click
a link on a Web page or in a pop-up window. Clicking it could download a virus
or lead you to reveal confidential information such as a bank account and Social
Security numbers.
WHAT IS PHISHING?
Phishing is a type of deception designed to steal your identity. In phishing scams,
scam artists try to get you to disclose valuable personal data, such as credit card
numbers, passwords, account data, or other information, by convincing you to
provide it under false pretenses. Phishing schemes can be carried out in person or over the phone, and are delivered online through spam e-mail or pop-up
windows.
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FIGURE T1.6
Tips to Stop Spam
What to Do with Spam
Delete junk e-mail messages without opening them. Sometimes even opening spam can alert
spammers.
Do not reply to spam unless you are certain that the message comes from a legitimate source.
This includes not responding to such messages that offer an option to “Remove me from your list.”
Do not give personal information in an e-mail or instant message. It could be a trick. Most
legitimate companies will not ask for personal information by e-mail. If a company you trust, such
as your credit card company or bank, appears to ask for personal information, check into it further.
Call the company using a number you retrieve yourself from the back of your credit card, bill,
phone book, or the like—not a number from the e-mail message. If it is a legitimate request, the
company’s customer service department should be able to help you.
Think twice before opening attachments or clicking links, even if you know the sender. If you
cannot confirm with the sender that an attachment or link is safe, delete the message. (If you must
open an attachment that you are less than sure about, save it to your hard disk first so that your
anti-virus software can check it before you open it.)
Do not buy anything or give to any charity promoted through spam. Spammers often swap or sell
the e-mail addresses of those who have bought from them, so buying something through spam
may result in even more spam. Plus, spammers can make their living (and a lucrative one, too) on
people’s purchases of their offerings. Resist the temptation to buy products through spam, and help
to put spammers out of business.
Do not forward chain e-mail messages. Not only do you lose control over who sees your e-mail
address, but you also may be furthering a hoax or aiding in the delivery of a virus. Plus, there are
reports that spammers start chain letters expressly to gather e-mail addresses. If you do not know
whether a message is a hoax or not, a site like Hoaxbusters can help you separate fact from fiction.
HOW DOES PHISHING WORK?
FIGURE T1.7
Sample Phishing Scam
E-Mail Message
A phishing scam sent by e-mail may start with con artists who send millions of
e-mail messages that appear to come from popular Web sites or sites that you trust,
like your bank or credit card company. The e-mail messages, pop-up windows, and
Web sites they link to appear official enough that they deceive many people into
believing that they are legitimate. Unsuspecting people too often respond to these
requests for their credit card numbers, passwords, account
information, or other personal data.
WHAT DOES A PHISHING SCAM LOOK LIKE?
As scam artists become more sophisticated, so do their
phishing e-mail messages and pop-up windows. They
often include official-looking logos from real organizations
and other identifying information taken directly from legitimate Web sites. Figure T1.7 shows what a phishing scam
e-mail message might look like.
If you receive an e-mail message from Microsoft asking
you to update your credit card information because of a
recent change in Microsoft policy, please do not respond.
This is a scam that is designed to steal your money or to
install unwanted software on your computer that may have
the ability to spy on you while you surf the Internet. Even
though it may appear that Microsoft sent these e-mail messages, it did not. Microsoft does not send unsolicited e-mail
requesting personal or financial information.
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FIGURE T1.8
Tips for Preventing Phishing
Preventing Phishing
Report suspicious e-mail. If you suspect you may have received phishing e-mail designed to steal
your identity, report the e-mail to the faked or “spoofed” organization. Contact the organization
directly—not through the e-mail you received—and ask for confirmation. If it would make you
more comfortable, call the organization’s toll-free number (if one exists) and speak to a customer
service representative. You should also report the e-mail to the proper authorities including the
FBI, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the Anti-phishing Working Group.
Be wary of clicking on links in e-mail messages. Links in phishing e-mail messages often take
you directly to phony sites where you could unwittingly transmit personal or financial information
to con artists. Avoid clicking on a link in an e-mail message unless you are sure of the destination.
Even if the address bar displays the correct Web address, do not risk being fooled. Con artists can
display a fake URL in the address bar on your browser.
Type addresses directly into your browser or use your personal bookmarks. If you need to update
your account information or change your password, visit the Web site by using your personal
bookmark or by typing the URL directly into your browser.
Check the security certificate when you are entering personal or financial information into a Web
site. Before you enter personal or financial information into a Web site, make sure the site is secure.
In Internet Explorer, you can do this by checking the yellow lock icon on the status bar as shown
below.
If the lock icon is closed, this signifies that the Web site uses encryption to help protect any
sensitive, personal information that you enter, such as your credit card number, Social Security
number, or payment details. This symbol does not need to appear on every page of a site, only on
those pages that request personal information. Unfortunately, even the lock symbol can be faked.
To help increase your safety, double-click the lock icon to display the security certificate for the
site. The name following Issued to should match the name of the site. If the name differs, you
may be on a fake site, also called a “spoofed” site. If you are not sure whether a certificate is
legitimate, do not enter any personal information. Play it safe and leave.
Do not enter personal or financial information into pop-up windows. One common phishing
technique is to launch a fake pop-up window when someone clicks on a link in a phishing e-mail
message. To make the pop-up window look more convincing, it may be displayed over a window
you trust. Even if the pop-up window looks official or claims to be secure, you should avoid entering
sensitive information, because there is no way to check the security certificate. Close pop-up
windows by clicking on the red X in the top right corner (a “cancel” button may not work as you
would expect).
HELP PREVENT IDENTITY THEFT FROM PHISHING SCAMS
Most phishing scams are sent through e-mail. By following the guidelines in
Figure T1.8, you can help protect yourself from these tricky scams.
Detecting Spyware
Spyware is a general term used for software that performs certain behaviors such
as advertising, collecting personal information, or changing the configuration of
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your computer, generally without appropriately obtaining your consent. You might
have spyware or other unwanted software on your computer if:
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You see pop-up advertisements even when you are not on the Web.
The page your Web browser first opens to or your browser search settings have
changed without your knowledge.
You notice a new toolbar in your browser that you didn’t want, and find it difficult to get rid of.
Your computer takes longer than usual to complete certain tasks.
You experience a sudden rise in computer crashes.
Spyware is often associated with software that displays advertisements (called
adware) or software that tracks personal or sensitive information. That does not
mean all software that provides ads or tracks your online activities is bad. For example, you might sign up for a free music service, but “pay” for the service by agreeing
to receive targeted ads. If you understand the terms and agree to them, you may
have decided that it is a fair trade-off. You might also agree to let the company track
your online activities to determine which ads to show you.
Other kinds of unwanted software will make changes to your computer that
can be annoying and can cause your computer to slow down or crash. These programs have the ability to change your Web browser’s home page or search page,
or add additional components to your browser you do not need or want. These
programs also make it very difficult for you to change your settings back to the
way you originally had them. These types of unwanted programs are also often
called spyware.
The key in all cases is whether or not you (or someone who uses your computer)
understand what the software will do and have agreed to install the software on
your computer.
Spyware or other unwanted software can get on your system in a number
of ways. A common trick is to covertly install the software during the installation of other software you want such as a music or video file-sharing program.
Whenever you are installing something on your computer, make sure you carefully read all disclosures, including the license agreement and privacy statement.
Sometimes the inclusion of unwanted software in a given software installation
is documented, but it may appear at the end of a license agreement or privacy
statement.
PREVENTING SPYWARE
Figure T1.9 displays a list of actions that can be taken to help prevent spyware
infections.
HOW TO GET RID OF SPYWARE
Many kinds of unwanted software, including spyware, are designed to be difficult
to remove. If you try to uninstall this software like any other program, you might
find that the program reappears as soon as you restart your computer. If you are
having trouble uninstalling unwanted software, you may need to download a tool
to do the job for you. Several companies offer free or low-cost software that will
check your computer for spyware and other unwanted software and help you
remove it.
Some Internet service providers (ISPs) include antispyware software in their service packages. Check with your ISP to see if it can recommend or provide a tool.
Keep in mind that removing unwanted software with these tools may mean you
will no longer be able to use a free program that came with the spyware.
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FIGURE T1.9
Tips for Preventing Spyware
Preventing Spyware
1. Ensure that desktop settings are configured to prompt you whenever a Web site tries to install a
new program or Active X control. If possible, configure your browser to reject Active X controls
to lessen the likelihood that spyware could be installed on your computer through normal
Internet browsing.
2. Keep your desktop systems up-to-date with security patches. Several spyware programs take
advantage of known vulnerabilities that, if patched, would limit the spyware’s effectiveness.
3. Install and maintain current versions of anti-virus and anti-spyware programs.
4. Expand the risk-assessment process to consider threats from spyware. This ensures that all risks
to private information are considered and appropriate steps are taken to mitigate those risks.
5. Install and configure firewalls to monitor all traffic (discussed later in this plug-in).
6. Implement tools to filter out spam and viruses from incoming e-mail. E-mail scanning can limit
the likelihood that you could unknowingly infect your computer by viewing or reading e-mail that
contains spyware. Filtering outbound e-mail for viruses also gives you an alert that an internal
computer is infected.
7. Implement tools to restrict or prevent pop-up windows. This limits the likelihood that spyware
will be downloaded through pop-up windows, either automatically or through user error.
To remove spyware:
1. Download a spyware removal tool (such as Microsoft Windows Defender).
Windows Defender comes with Windows Vista. If you use Windows XP SP2, you
can download Windows Defender for no charge from the Microsoft Web site.
2. Run the tool to scan your computer for spyware and other unwanted software.
3. Review the files discovered by the tool for spyware and other unwanted
software.
4. Select suspicious files for removal by following the tool’s instructions.
Threats to Instant Messages
FIGURE T1.10
Like e-mail viruses, instant message viruses are malicious or annoying programs
that are designed to travel through IM. In most cases, these viruses are spread when
a person opens an infected file that was sent in an
instant message that appeared to come from a friend.
Figure T1.10 provides an example of what an IM virus
sent through an infected file might look like.
When unsuspecting people open these files, their
computers can become infected with a virus. Because
of the virus, their computers may slow down or stop
responding, or they may not notice any change.
However, the virus might have installed a covert program on the computer that could damage software,
hardware, or important files, and that may include
spyware, which can track information entered on a
computer.
A computer infected by a virus may continue to
spread the infection by sending copies of the virus to
everyone on your IM contact list. A contact list is the
collection of IM names (similar to an e-mail address
book) that you can store in your IM program. As with
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FIGURE T1.11
How to Avoid Instant
Message Viruses
Steps to Help Avoid Instant Message Viruses
Be careful downloading files in IM. Never open, accept, or download a file in IM from someone
you do not know. If the file comes from someone you do know, do not open it unless you know
what the file is and you were expecting it. Contact the sender by e-mail, phone, or some other
method to confirm that what was sent was not a virus.
Update your Windows software. Visit the Windows Update Web site to scan your computer and
install any high-priority updates that are offered. If you have Automatic Updates enabled, the
updates are delivered to you when they are released, but you have to make sure you install them.
Make sure you are using an updated version of your IM software. Using the most up-to-date
version of your IM software can better protect your computer against viruses and spyware. If you
are using MSN Messenger, install the updated version by visiting the MSN Messenger Web site
and clicking the Download Now! button.
Use anti-virus software and keep it updated. Anti-virus software can help to detect and remove
IM viruses from your computer, but only if you keep the anti-virus software current. If you have
purchased a subscription from an anti-virus software company, your anti-virus software may
update itself when you are connected to the Internet.
Use anti-spyware software and keep it updated. Some IM viruses may install spyware or other
unwanted software on your computer. Anti-spyware software can help to protect your computer
from spyware and remove any spyware you may already have.
most threats on the Internet, you can help keep yourself safe by taking basic precautions. If you know how to avoid e-mail viruses, you will already be familiar with
many of the steps highlighted in Figure T1.11 and Figure T1.12.
FIGURE T1.12
Safer Instant
Messaging
Tips for Safer Instant Messaging
Never give out sensitive personal information, such as your credit card number, Social Security
number, or passwords, in an IM conversation.
Only communicate with people on your Contact List or Buddy List.
Never agree to meet a stranger in person whom you have met on IM.
Never accept files or downloads from people you do not know. Never accept files that you were
not expecting from people you do know.
Each IM program assigns you a name, not unlike an e-mail address. This name is usually called a
screen name. Choose a name that does not give away your personal information. For example, use
SassySue instead of DetroitSue.
Just like an e-mail address, do not post your screen name online. People might find it and use it to
send you unsolicited IM messages.
Do not send personal or private instant messages at work. Your boss may have a right to view
those messages.
Most instant message programs allow you to automatically log on when you start your computer
so that you do not have to enter your password every time you want to use the program. If you use
a public computer, make sure not to configure your IM program for automatic log-on.
Be careful how you reveal when you are online or not. IM programs allow people on your contact
list to see if you are available. However, using this feature may offer people more information
about you than you feel comfortable giving. Windows Messenger and MSN Messenger both allow
you to control how you appear to people on your contact list.
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Increasing PC Performance
To maintain your computer and keep it running smoothly, follow these guidelines:
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Free disk space.
Speed up access to data.
Detect and repair disk errors.
FREE DISK SPACE
By freeing disk space, you can improve the performance of your computer. The
Disk Cleanup tool, a utility that comes installed with Microsoft Windows XP and
Vista, helps free space on your hard disk. The utility identifies files that you can
safely delete, and then enables you to choose whether you want to delete some or
all of the identified files. You can use the Disk Cleanup Utility to:
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Remove temporary Internet files.
Remove downloaded program files (such as Microsoft ActiveX controls and Java
applets).
Empty the Recycle Bin.
Remove Windows temporary files.
Remove optional Windows components that you do not use.
Remove installed programs that you no longer use.
(Note: Typically, temporary Internet files take the most amount of space because
the browser caches each page you visit for faster (later) access.)
To Use Disk Cleanup
1. Click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools,
and then click Disk Cleanup.
2. If several drives are available, you might be prompted to specify which drive you
want to clean.
3. Disk Cleanup calculates the amount of space you will be able to free.
4. In the Disk Cleanup for dialog box, scroll through the content of the Files to
delete list.
5. Choose the files that you want to delete, as displayed in Figure T1.13.
6. Clear the check boxes for files that you do not want to delete, and then click OK.
7. When prompted to confirm that you want to delete the specified files,
click Yes.
8. After a few minutes, the process completes and the Disk Cleanup dialog
box closes.
FIGURE T1.13
Disk Cleanup Dialog Box
in Windows XP
SPEED UP ACCESS TO DATA
Disk fragmentation slows the overall performance of your system. When
files are fragmented, the computer must search the hard disk when the
file is opened to piece it back together. The response time can be significantly longer. Disk Defragmenter is a Windows XP and Vista utility that
consolidates fragmented files and folders on your computer’s hard disk
so that each occupies a single space on the disk. With your files stored
neatly end-to-end, without fragmentation, reading and writing to the
disk speeds up.
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When to Run Disk Defragmenter
In addition to running Disk Defragmenter at regular intervals, optimally monthly,
certain events warrant running the utility outside of the normal interval. You should
run Disk Defragmenter when:
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You add a large number of files.
Your free disk space nears 15 percent.
You install new programs or a new version of Windows.
To Use Disk Defragmenter
1. Click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools,
and then click Disk Defragmenter.
2. Click Analyze to start the Disk Defragmenter if you are using Windows XP. Click
Defragment now if you are using Windows Vista. (see Figure T1.14).
3. In the Disk Defragmenter dialog box, click the drives that you want to defragment, and then click the Analyze button.
After the disk is analyzed, a dialog box appears, letting you know whether you
should defrag the analyzed drives. Tip: You should analyze a volume before defragmenting it to get an estimate of how long the defragmentation process will take.
4. To defragment the selected drive or drives, click the Defragment button.
5. After the defragmentation is complete, Disk Defragmenter displays the results.
6. To display detailed information about the defragmented disk or partition, click
View Report.
7. To close the View Report dialog box, click Close.
8. To close the Disk Defragmenter utility, click the Close button on the title bar of
the window.
In Windows Vista, Microsoft added scheduling capability to Disk Defragmenter. In
fact, right out of the box, Disk Defragmenter is scheduled to defragment your hard
disk once a day.
DETECT AND REPAIR DISK ERRORS
FIGURE T1.14
Disk Defragmenter Dialog
Box in Windows Vista
In addition to running Disk Cleanup and Disk Defragmenter to optimize the performance of your computer, you can check the integrity of the files stored on your
hard disk by running the Error Checking utility. As you use your hard drive, it can
develop bad sectors. Bad sectors slow down hard disk performance and sometimes make data writing (such as file saving) difficult, or even impossible. The Error
Checking utility scans the hard drive for bad sectors, and scans for file system errors
to see whether certain files or folders are misplaced. If you use your computer daily,
you should try to run this utility weekly to help prevent data loss.
To Run the Error Checking Utility
1. Important: Be sure to close all files before running
the Error Checking utility.
2. Click Start, and then click My Computer.
3. In the My Computer window, right-click the hard
disk you want to search for bad sectors, and then
click Properties.
4. In the Properties dialog box, click the Tools tab.
5. Click the Check Now button.
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6. In the Check Disk dialog box, select the Scan for and attempt
recovery of bad sectors check box, and then click Start (see
Figure T1.15).
7. If bad sectors are found, you will be prompted to fix them.>
(Note: Only select the Automatically fix file system errors
check box if you think that your disk contains bad sectors.)
Using Anti-Virus Software
The Internet is an excellent resource, and no doubt has changed
the way most people communicate. Unfortunately, the Internet,
e-mail in particular, has created an easy medium for the spread
of computer viruses, which can cause chaos to whole networks
of computers.
A virus is basically a malicious computer program. The effects
of viruses differ; some either modify, delete, or steal data, and
others may give control of your PC over to their creators via the
Internet. One thing they all have in common is that if you get
infected and you don’t have anti-virus software, you might not
know you have it until it is too late.
A worm refers to a virus that can replicate and spread by itself
over a network (the Internet for instance). These are getting very
common and are among the biggest troublemakers on the Internet.
A virus or worm can sit on a computer for months (potentially even years) without doing anything and then be triggered by a certain date and time to do what it
has been designed to do. As these viruses and worms become more advanced, the
need for anti-virus software has never been so great.
Like its biological equivalent, a computer virus is a program that spreads unwanted and unexpected actions through the insides of a computer. Not all viruses
are malicious, but many are written to damage particular types of files, applications, or operating systems.
The results of virus infections vary according to the maliciousness of the author.
Many viruses are designed only to spread from file to file and therefore from computer to computer without any serious damage. The only real effect to an end user is
loss of credibility when an e-mail to a customer or a friend is rejected by an anti-virus
program. But many viruses carry sinister payloads. Some actively destroy files, some
overwrite the boot sectors on disks to render computers unbootable, and an increasing number install backdoor programs that allow virus writers to take control of computers remotely. Computers with backdoor software installed are called zombies and
are often used for computer crime such as distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.
There are three main types of viruses in circulation: (1) boot sector viruses, (2) macro
viruses, and (3) file infecting viruses. Figure T1.16 explains each of these in detail..
FIGURE T1.15
Check Disk Dialog Box
in Windows Vista
ANTI-VIRUS SOFTWARE
Anti-virus (AV) is a term applied to either a single program or a collection of programs that protect a computer system from viruses. Anti-virus software is designed
to keep your PC free of computer viruses and worms. It does so by scanning your
PC’s file system looking for known viruses; if a virus is found, the software will
inform you and then take steps to remove the virus threat.
Good anti-virus software will automatically check any files being transferred to
and from a computer; any anti-virus software should at least scan attachments of
incoming e-mails automatically (even if the option can be turned off).
The intricate details of each anti-virus program vary, but all share the basic
responsibility of identifying virus-laden files using virus signature files: a unique
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FIGURE T1.16
Types of Viruses
Type of Virus
Definition
Boot sector viruses
The boot sector is the very first sector on a hard disk. It contains
executable code that helps to operate the PC. Because the PC’s hard
disk boot sector is referred to every time the PC powers or “boots”
up, and is rewritten whenever you configure or format the setup of the
system, it is a vulnerable place for viruses to attack.
Macro viruses
Macro viruses are by far the most common viruses in circulation,
accounting for about 75 percent of viruses found “in the wild.” These
can be obtained through disks, a network, the Internet, or an e-mail
attachment.
Macro viruses do not directly infect programs, but instead, infiltrate
the files from applications that use internal macro programming
languages, such as Microsoft Excel or Word documents. They are
then able to execute commands when the infected file is open, which
spreads the virus to other vulnerable documents. In turn, users who
share files can also spread the virus to other systems.
File infecting viruses
File infecting viruses infect executable files, such as EXE and COM
files. Once the original infected program is run, the virus transfers to
your computer’s memory and may replicate itself further, spreading the
infection. These viruses can be spread beyond the infected system as
soon as the infected file or program is passed to another computer.
The simplest of these viruses work by overwriting part of the
program they are infecting. These can thankfully be caught early,
because the program rarely continues to work as it should.
More sophisticated versions hide their presence by saving the
program or file’s original instructions so that these are executed even
after infection. This type may not be noticed until it is too late and
enters the attack phase.
string of bytes that identifies the virus like a fingerprint. They view patterns in the
data and compare them to traits of known viruses captured “in the wild” to determine if a file is infected, and in most cases are able to strip the infection from files,
leaving them undamaged. When repairs are not possible, anti-virus programs will
quarantine the file to prevent accidental infection, or they can be set up to delete
the file immediately.
In the case of new viruses for which no antidote has been created, some antivirus programs also use heuristic scanning. Heuristic scanning allows the antivirus programs to flag suspicious data structures or unusual virus-like activity even
when there is no matching virus definition. If the program sees any funny business,
it quarantines the questionable program and broadcasts a warning to you about
what the program may be trying to do (such as modify your Windows Registry). The
accuracy of such methods is much lower, however, and often a program with this
running may err on the side of caution. This can result in confusing false positive
results.
If you and the software think the program may be a virus, you can send the quarantined file to the anti-virus vendor, where researchers examine it, determine its
signature, name and catalog it, and release its antidote.
Virus Definition Files
Anti-virus software usually works by checking a file for certain patterns of binary
code. The patterns used to identify viruses are stored in what is known as a virus
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definition file. When a new virus comes out, the virus
definition file needs to be updated to include the new
pattern.
The importance of keeping these definition files
updated cannot be overstated. Basically, anti-virus software without updated definition files is useless.
Most anti-virus software will update these files
automatically (or at least have the option to do so).
The update of the definition files is usually achieved
by having the software connect via the Internet to the
vendor’s Web site, and then downloading and installing the latest virus definition files. This is why it is
important to purchase anti-virus software from an
established company. Imagine you bought anti-virus
protection and then six months later the company
went bankrupt; you would have nowhere to get your virus definition updates. If
you do not have anti-virus software, then check out these anti-virus products from
established developers:
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FIGURE T1.17
Symantec Anti-Virus
McAfee VirusScan (www.mcafee.com).
Symantec Anti-virus (www.symantec.com).
Figure T1.17 displays an example of Symantec Anti-virus after it has completed
a virus scan of a hard drive.
CELL PHONE VIRUSES
Cabir, the world’s first known cell phone virus, was found on the cell phone of a
private user in 2004; however, it did not get very far. Cabir infected only a small
number of Bluetooth-enabled phones and carried out no malicious action—a
group of malware developers created Cabir to prove it could be done. Malware,
short for malicious software, is designed specifically to damage or disrupt a
system, just as a virus does. The group’s next step was to send it to anti-virus
researchers, who began developing a solution to a problem that promises to get
a lot worse.
Cell phone viruses are at the threshold of their effectiveness. At present, they
cannot spread very far and they don’t do much damage, but the future might see
cell phone bugs that are as debilitating as computer viruses.
A cell phone virus is basically the same thing as a computer virus—an unwanted
executable file that “infects” a device and then copies itself to other devices.
However, whereas a computer virus or worm spreads through e-mail attachments
and Internet downloads, a cell phone virus or worm spreads via Internet downloads, MMS (multimedia messaging service) attachments, and Bluetooth transfers. The most common type of cell phone infection now occurs when a cell phone
downloads an infected file from a PC or the Internet, but phone-to-phone viruses
are on the rise.
Current phone-to-phone viruses almost exclusively infect phones running the
Symbian operating system. The large number of proprietary operating systems in
the cell phone world is one of the obstacles to mass infection. Cell phone virus writers have no Windows-level market share to target, so any virus will affect only a
small percentage of phones.
Infected files usually show up disguised as applications such as games, security patches, add-on functionalities, and, of course, pornography and free stuff.
Infected text messages sometimes steal the subject line from a message you have
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received from a friend, which increases the likelihood of you opening it, but opening the message is not enough to get infected. You have to choose to open the message attachment and agree to install the program, which is another obstacle to
mass infection. The installation obstacles and the methods of spreading limit the
amount of damage the current generation of cell phone viruses can do.
The easiest way to disinfect your cell phone is to download software that will
remove the bugs from your cell phone. For example you can download a free 30-day
trial version of F-Secure Mobile Anti-Virus (mobile.f-secure.com/). It can remove
all known cell phone viruses.
Installing a Personal Firewall
FIGURE T1.18
Windows XP Firewall
Settings
A firewall is a barrier to keep destructive forces away from your property. Its job is
similar to a physical firewall that keeps a fire from spreading from one area to the
next.
A firewall is simply a program or hardware device that filters the information
coming through the Internet connection into a computer. If an incoming packet of
information is flagged by the filters, it is not allowed through.
Say that you work at a company with 500 employees. The company has hundreds of computers that are all connected. In addition, the company will have one
or more connections to the Internet through something like T1 or T3 lines. Without
a firewall, all of those hundreds of computers are directly accessible to anyone on
the Internet. An outsider can probe those computers and try to make connections
to them. If one employee makes a mistake and leaves a security hole, hackers can
get to the machine and exploit the hole.
With a firewall in place, the landscape is much different. A company should place
a firewall at every connection to the Internet (for example, at every T1 line coming
into the company). The firewall can implement security rules. For example, one of the security rules inside
the company might be “out of the 500 computers inside
this company, only one of them is permitted to receive
public FTP traffic. Allow FTP connections only to that
one computer and prevent them on all others.”
A company can set up rules like this for FTP servers,
Web servers, Telnet servers, and the like. In addition,
the company can control how employees connect to
Web sites, whether files are allowed to leave the company over the network, and so on. A firewall gives a
company tremendous control over how people use the
network.
A variety of firewall software applications are available, including ZoneAlarm (www.zonealarm.com),
which is free for download. Microsoft has improved
the firewall software in Windows XP and Vista, which is
turned on by default. However, some computer manufacturers and network administrators might turn it off.
TO OPEN WINDOWS FIREWALL
Using Windows XP, click Start and then click Control
Panel. Click Windows Firewall (see Figure T1.18).
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FIGURE T1.19
Windows Vista Firewall
Settings
Using Windows Vista, click Start, then click Control Panel, then select Security,
and then click Windows Firewall (see Figure T1.19).
Figure T1.20 displays a list of some things firewalls do and do not do..
FIGURE T1.20
It Does
It Does Not
Help block computer viruses and worms from
reaching a computer.
Detect or disable computer viruses and
worms if they are already on a computer.
Ask for your permission to block or unblock
certain connection requests.
Stop you from opening e-mail with
dangerous attachments.
Create a record (a security log) that records
successful and unsuccessful attempts to
connect to a computer. This can be useful as
a troubleshooting tool.
Block spam or unsolicited e-mail from
appearing in an e-mail inbox. However, some
e-mail programs can help do this.
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PLUG-IN SUMMARY
This plug-in covered a number of things to do to keep your personal computer running effectively and efficiently, such as:
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Creating strong passwords.
Performing good file management.
Implementing effective backup and recovery strategies.
Using Zip files.
Writing professional e-mails.
Stopping spam.
Preventing phishing.
Detecting spyware.
Protecting instant messaging.
Increasing PC performance.
Using anti-virus software.
Installing a personal firewall.
MAKING BUSINESS DECISIONS
1. Third-Party Backup Utilities
Because of the importance of data backup, numerous companies produce specialized
backup software. Backup utilities offer advanced features in the following areas to differentiate them from the Windows Backup utility and from software included with CD and
DVD burners:
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Support for all current media types, including all DVD formats, Zip disks, Pen storage,
and so on.
Highly specific backup selections, combinations of files and folders in any location.
On-the-fly compression of files, to provide reduced file sizes in the backup.
Automatic comparisons of data after the backup, taking a number of forms.
Support for multi-CD or multi-DVD backups, with a single backup spanning as many
discs as necessary.
Detailed backup schedulers.
Detailed methods of including or excluding file types.
Backup from remote computers.
In addition, some backup utilities now include the technology known as ghost imaging,
or just plain ghosting. A ghost image captures the entire hard drive, backing it up to the
point where you can restore your entire system from it.
Search the Internet to find different third-party utilities that perform backup, restore,
and ghosting. List the features and prices of each.
2. Spybot Search & Destroy
Debuting in 2002, Spybot Search & Destroy has gained the reputation as one of the best standalone spyware detectors, monitors, and removers in the business. Spybot Search & Destroy
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is available free, although the Web site (www.safer-networking.org) asks for a donation to
defray development costs. Download and install the latest version of Spybot (www.safernetworking.org/en/download/index.html). Run the application to scan for spyware, adware,
hijackers, and other malicious software. Installation is simple and fast (although you should
create a Restore Point with System Restore before doing so, in case you want to reverse the
process). Note how many references to spyware and adware the application finds.
3. Firewall Utilities
You have a good range of excellent choices when it comes to firewall protection. In addition to commercial products such as Symantec, McAfee, and Trend Micro, which include
firewall protection as part of their security suites or as stand-alone products, Microsoft
has a firewall that ships as part of Windows XP SP1 and SP2.
Perhaps the best known of the stand-alone firewall utilities is ZoneAlarm (www.
zonealarm.com), which offers its firewall as a free product as well as a purchasable product, ZoneAlarm Pro, with additional features (including e-mail security).
Other firewall products operate similarly to those already mentioned. Kerio Personal
Firewall (www.kerio.com) makes your desktop invisible to outside intruders, blocks pop-up
windows and banner ads, and detects a wealth of hacker intrusions. Kerio specializes in
enterprise-level products, and its desktop firewall products take advantage of that specialization. Tiny Software (www.tinysoftware.com), acquired by industry giant Computer
Associates, offers Tiny Firewall, which watches all network activity, establishes intrusion
protection as you work, and offers a tool called Track ‘n’ Reverse, which lets you see any
changes to your files or your registry and reverse them so that your system is as it was
before. Think of this as a kind of System Restore at the microlevel.
Personal Firewall Review (www.firewallguide.com/software.htm) links to over 60 personal firewall software products for Windows and links to independent third-party reviews.
Download one of the free firewall products mentioned above and try it.
4. Testing Your Setup
How do you know you are actually safe?
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To test your firewall, visit Gibson Research Corporation (www.grc.com) and follow the links to ShieldsUp! This site runs numerous free, fast online tests of common
vulnerabilities.
Another free online tester can be found at www.pcflank.com.
You can also test your browser’s vulnerabilities by using the Browser Security Test
(bcheck.scanit.be/bcheck).
GFi will send a free series of e-mail messages to you with attachments intended to
expose holes in your e-mail software (gfi.com/emailsecuritytest).
Microsoft has a free, heavy-duty Baseline Security Analyzer (www.microsoft.com/technet/security/tools/mbsahome.mspx) available for download. It is intended to detect common security misconfigurations and missing security updates on your computer systems.
5. Scanning from the Web
It is not actually necessary to purchase an anti-virus package if all you want to do is check
your PC’s current virus situation. Increasingly, anti-virus vendors are offering scanning of
your PC directly from their Web sites, a process that tends to take a bit longer than local
scanning but which has four major benefits:
1. You can successfully scan a PC that does not have the latest virus definition files
installed locally.
2. You are always assured of the most up-to-date virus scan possible.
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3. You can scan PCs on which, for whatever reason, you cannot install anti-virus
software.
4. You can get a second opinion to see if the results are different from those of your
installed anti-virus program.
Go to Trend Micro’s Housecall, the online free virus scan corresponding to their PCcillin product (www.trendmicro.com). You need to agree to a download of an ActiveX control to have the virus-scanning software start; this is one of two apparent strikes against
this method of virus checking. Since some of the fear surrounding spyware is precisely the
vulnerability of your PC to software placed on your hard drives from outside, it seems counterintuitive from a security standpoint to allow an ActiveX control to install itself on your PC
and then allow that control to scan all the files on your system.
1
www.cpasn.com/article/article.jsp?id⫽1335, accessed August 6, 2007.
www.microsoft.com/athome/security/email/aboutspam.mspx, accessed February 22, 2006.
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