How to stop spying, adware, malware and ransomware
(Published May 2019, all rights reserved)
Anyone can use free software to attack any computer system without
writing a single line of programming code. Newer automated attacks locate
victims at random without discriminating between home and mission critical
computers, and often without the victims ever being aware of the threat...until
it is to late.
One only needs
to search the internet for
"Ransomware", "Spyware attack", or "webcam spying" to truly appreciate the frequency
and gravity of such attacks. Cities and major corporations have fallen prey,
but you don’t have to be next.
I provide audio and video enhancement
While my lab goes to extensive lengths to secure our network, there are
some simple and free solutions that anyone can implement. While no solution can ever be 100% secure, it only takes a few minutes to get
close to that goal.
Following any of this advice is to be done at your own risk, and
assumes a high degree of comfort installing and configuring software on
a Windows computer.
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text to the clipboard.
First, you will need good antivirus software to serve as a critical line of
defense. If you already like your antivirus protection, then there is no need to
If you are looking for free antivirus protection, then I recommend AVAST
NOTE: Running two antivirus programs on the same computer can cause computer
crashes and performance reduction.
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text to clipboard.
Antivirus programs rarely gain the ability to stop new spyware or ransomware
attacks until after other computers have fallen victim, and
such attacks are originating from an ever evolving list of web addresses. Your internet modem likely provides basic firewall
protection to intercept some attacks, but
this can be exponentially improved by installing firewall software.
firewall blocks inbound and outbound traffic with an ever updating list of
threatening web addresses. While Peerblock is free, to maximize protection one
must subscribe to
then add their subscription lists
(including advertisers) into Peerblock. Peerblock must be manually launched
each time Windows is restarted.
Mouse over this sentence to learn how to automate the launch of Peerblock. Click to copy text to clipboard.
firewall works by trapping suspicious inbound and outbound traffic. This
firewall method eliminates the need for updated lists or subscriptions, but does
require the user to teach the software which activity is to be permitted.
Software settings (and the default “Express” installation option) let the
user increase software automation, while still providing good security. NOTE: Some users have experienced reduced computer
performance when using
Peerblock and Zonealarm together.
prevent and remove adware/malware, and prevent unauthorized
changes to your Window’s registry, I highly recommend installing Spybot
is my second choice). Some
other tools to consider are: Sandbox software (e.g. Sandboxie)
to temporarily install software without actually exposing it
to your computer, a laptop webcam
this) to prevent hacker's from
gaining access, and a Kensington lock (e.g. this)
to prevent physical theft using your laptop's built-in port. Now might also be a
good time to remove unwanted applications (search your PC for "Add or
remove programs"), and remnant or harmful registry links (ccleaner
Mission critical computers are isolated from the internet, but even that
can't eliminate the risk of data loss or destruction. Humans make
mistakes and systems eventually fail, so everyone
needs the mundane routine of regular updates and backups. At the very least, use your computer’s search feature to
locate “create a restore point”, and then create a new restore
point weekly. Each day, update your antivirus software and also backup your
files to a cloud backup service (e.g. iDrive) and removable drive
kept off-site or in a fireproof safe. Most backup resources include
software to only update what has changed, thus making the process quick
and easy. Keeping frequent redundant backups may seem frivolous and paranoid, until
the day your computer becomes corrupt or your hard drive fails.
a Windows log-on password might deter the amateur thief, but it is
easy to bypass. So, to
prevent others from accessing your files, consider encrypting an
entire drive or partition (veracrypt
and / or specific files on demand (AxCrypt
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text to the clipboard.
You also may want to review what Microsoft can do with your data by holding down the Windows logo key on your keyboard and
then touching the letter “I” to open your settings.
Then choose the “Privacy” option and review all of the tabs and
settings to disable everything that you do not need to share.
While on the topic of privacy, if you want anonymity while online, then consider using the free
Tor browser and a Virtual Private Network VPN to keep your web habits private.
Using a VPN (e.g. SurfShark or PIA)
prevents your personal information from being captured while
using public Wi-Fi. Internet service providers (ISP) can legally monitor
your data, and degrade your speed when you use a VPN. SurfShark VPN
solves this by using OpenVPN-UDP to be invisible to your ISP, and they routinely have deep pricing promotions.
Most VPNs also
include a Kill Switch that prevents internet usage until a secure
connection has been established.
For those who put their life on social media (e.g. Facebook), just keep in mind that others can mine that data to answer the “challenge” questions
used for the banking or email’s “forgot password” website feature. Once
thieves reset those passwords, they can steal money and prevent the
account holder from receiving notifications until it’s far too late. As such, consider appending
all your challenge question answers to always begin or end with a consistent added
alphanumeric key phrase you will never forget (e.g.
"L3afbl0wer"). Also, whenever offered, activate a website's two-step
Websites that store financial, shopping or other personal information
usually require a log-in password. Rather than re-using the same
vulnerable password, keeping passwords on paper, or using your browser's weak
password security, you can entrust this task to software. KeePass
is a cost-free,
ad-free, and maintains unique website passwords within an
encrypted file that safely and exclusively resides within your control.
preceding steps provide a simple, yet nearly impenetrable, layer of security to your
data. Obviously, there are additional security steps that you can do, but the foregoing
tips are free (or inexpensive), effective, and non-intrusive. I want you
to be safe.
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