The holiday season
brings a lot of new computer systems into the world. A lot of them will
be a long overdue replacement for the family computer. Many will be a familyís
first venture into cyberworld. There are a lot of problems that can occur
with a computer but most of them can be avoided with some simple planning
The first item on the protection list is protection from electrical
spikes and surges. Even with the new technology that is around us, the
electric company still gives us the occasional spikes and surges throughout
our electrical system. Whether it is the heavy load of summertime or the
electrical storms of the wintertime, our systems are in danger from the
time that we plug them in.
You can buy a battery backup, or UPS (Uninterruptible
for your computer that will protect you from spikes, surges and brownouts
that can occur. The Minuteman 500 is available for about $120. This includes
4 surge/backup outlets, 4 surge only outlets, and outlets for your modem
and network cable. For those of you with high speed Internet, you cannot
forget about the network cable. You can lose a network card or even a system
board if the power problem comes down the network cable. The product also
includes software that will automatically shutdown your system in the event
of a power problem as well as $30,000 worth of insurance in case their
product does not do what it is supposed to do and you lose your system.
I donít think there are too many of us with a $30,000 computer system.
The next step is to decide what type of connection you will have to
the Internet. If you are going to use a dialup service, you can move on
to the next step. If you have chosen to get high speed Internet access,
you need to get some sort of firewall to protect you from the hackers on
the outside where you will be. I would suggest that everyone that uses
DSL or cable modem install an Internet router. This will also be of use
if you have more than one system that you want to share the connection
with. If not a hardware firewall, then at least install some sort of software
firewall like ZoneAlarm or BlackICE that will help to protect you. If you
choose not to have some sort of firewall it will not be a question of if
you will be hacked, but only when.
After you get the computer up and running, you will want to check what
antivirus software is installed and whether it is up to date. Software
packages can be 6 months old by the time the consumer gets the product.
This can mean that you would be vulnerable to all of the viruses that have
come out in the last 6 months. If you do not update your antivirus software
and have a plan for automatic or scheduled updates, you run the risk of
becoming infected by the next big virus that comes out.
Now that we have surge protection, firewall and antivirus in place,
letís look at the operating system and the programs that are installed.
Microsoft is trying to help us keep the hackers out of our systems. The
Website will allow
you to check your system for all of the latest security fixes that have
been released. Did you know that one of the ways that the Klez virus attacks
is with the mime exploit from within Internet Explorer? This is important
because Outlook and Outlook Express call Internet Explorer to show you
the html e-mails. If your browser is not up to date, you can be infected
with a variant of the Klez virus by previewing an infected e-mail. You
donít even have to open it up. The update site is free
to anyone with a valid Windows operating system so it doesnít make any
sense not to take advantage of the service. Windows XP will even download
the critical updates ahead of time and notify you when they are ready to
be installed. It canít get much easier than that unless you have someone
doing it for you.
After the Windows updates are finished move on to the office
update site. Here you will be able to download and install fixes as
well as security updates for Microsoft Office 2000 or XP products. Office
XP, which hasnít been out that long, is already on its second service pack.
They donít write these fixes because they have a lot of free time. They
write them because problems have been found that need to be fixed. Take
advantage of the updates for your own good.
If you will take the time to look at these items, I guarantee that your
computer experience will be better with the protection than without it.
If you decide to not have the protection, please stay away from my area
of cyberworld. Good luck to those of you that are about to take your first
trip on the information superhighway.