Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Software List

With all those nasty people out there trying to get into your machine, what software can help you to stop it? The following is a list of the things which I would normally use and, if I've been to sort out your computer, you may find already installed. Most of the software is free (and does not infect your computer)!


The purpose of a good firewall is to stop intruders getting in and also to stop naughty programs from getting out and doing things they shouldn't. The product I tend to suggest is Zone Alarm. You may have to search the site a bit to find the free version (they'd rather you bought a commercial one!) but it is there, for home use.
Information on how to use it can be found on my website.

Anti Virus Software

Forget your Nortons and your McAfees and go with the free version of AVG! I've scanned computers protected by these commercial products and still found infections! Just remember to keep it up to date! More information on how to use it can be found on my website.

Spyware, Adware and various ScumWare

Clearing these infections is currently the biggest area of work I get. It's almost impossible to avoid them if you use the internet (and clearly you do!). There are a variety of products available which will scan your system when you ask and currently Ad-Aware SE Personal and Spybot Search and Destroy are thought to be the best, but use both since they tackle the problem from slightly different viewpoints.

However... although these products are free there is a much better product which scans your machine all the time and keeps you free of infections, and that is Spyware Doctor. The slight downside is that it's a commercial product but it only costs around £20 ($30) for a year's subscription (which is a lot less than getting Ken to come a sort out your problems!). You can download a free trial.

New Addition: If you don't like the idea of paying money for Spyware Doctor, then at least get hold of WinPatrol (http://www.winpatrol.com/download.html). It's free and will monitor your machine for unexpected behaviours.


...in other words, unwanted email messages offering you online drugs, sex enhancement products, investment opportunities and so forth. You know the sort of things I mean; there's such a lot of it about these days.

A good spam filtering product is SpamPal which requires you (like all spam filtering software) to teach it what is and what isn't spam but it very quickly starts working on its own.

SpamPal requires the emails to be loaded onto your machine so they can be filtered but there are services which filter it externally so you don't even have the cost of downloading them. Such products tend to be commercial but one which s worth looking at is SpamDefy - it only costs £0.99 per month and you can have a 60 day free trial!

Web Browser

I know Micro$oft give you Internet Explorer for 'free' but it does have very many security problems and, quite frankly, isn't really all that good anyway (in my opinion). Switch to Firefox (also for free) and on the rare occasions when you really MUST use IE, you can still run it. You'll find Firefox is just as easy to use, provides better protection and has some nicer facilities (so much so that Micro$oft are incorporating a lot of them in the new version 7 of IE!).

Email Client

OK, if you're running Outlook (the full version) and using its various calendar, task, etc. facilities then you might as well stay with it. If, however, you're running Outlook Express then you should switch to Thunderbird which provides all the same advantages that Firefox does over IE.

Remember that it's worth checking my website at www.CallOnKen.co.uk for
more details about these and other products - and many other useful issues.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Introducing this blog!

OK, it seems that everyone who is serious about IT has to have a 'blog'* these days so I'm creating one.

I'll try to add notes about any problems I find which might prove useful to you folks out there and also keep you informed as to any particular threats I discover out there. You minght just find something which can save you calling me out and save you my (ludicrously low) fee!

It is worth knowing that these days probably 70% of my work is now centered around sorting out infected machines and I can't think that I've come across ANY machine which connects to the internet that isn't infected (and that includes my own!). I'll try and keep you posted with what are good measures to be taking to keep your machine clean.

Feel free to add your own comments and questions and I'll try to answer any problems you tell me about and remember my main web site at www.callonken.co.uk where you can find lots of other useful information.

Blog is short for weblog. A weblog is a journal (or newsletter) that is frequently updated and intended for general public consumption.