Sunday, September 14, 2008

Bad Computing Habits-Slayed!

Good day, citizen. The Slayer has returned yet again to protect and show you how to protect yourself when the Slayer isn't near.

Today the Slayer will arm you with ancient weapons handed down to him from one of the original Slayers. His name is Leo LaPorte. He has a show called "The Tech Guy" that can be heard on weekends throughout this fair land. Do not let his innocuous moniker, "The Tech Guy", fool you. He is indeed one of the mightiest of Slayers.

The Slayer first heard Slayer Leo on a computer-based talk show on Saturday mornings on KNBR in San Francisco. Back then the Slayer was a mere innocent, like yourself. Slayer Leo spoke of many things the Slayer did not fully comprehend, but as time passed the Slayer began to understand more and more. The Slayer followed Slayer Leo to the TV screen. He had a show called "Call for Help" on a channel then known as TechTV. It has sadly evolved into the GAME network known as G4.

Slayer Leo has handed down a very powerful weapon. They are his rules for safer computing. An innocent such as yourself is expected to know these things. The evil mastermind, PC, lies in wait for innocents ready to unleash a tidal wave of spoofed websites, Nigerian money scams, and helpful-looking pop-ups saying "you have been infected! click here get your antivirus" and "click here to redeem a free $100 gift card for Red Lobster".

Without further adieu, here are:

Leo’s Six Rules for Safe Computing

1. Don’t open email attachments; even if it’s from someone you know. If you do get something from someone you know, make sure that they really sent it to you. Email attachments are the number one way viruses and trojan horses get into your email. You might also want to turn off HTML email in Outlook and other programs. HTML emails are just as dangerous as rogue web sites, and can spread infections just by previewing them.

2. Don’t click links in email. That link could lead you to a phishing site, or the link may lead you to install malicious software. Copy and paste links into your browser, or type them in by hand instead. Another reason to disable HTML email - the HTML hides the real destination of that seemingly innocuous link.

3. Don’t download files from places you aren’t absolutely sure are safe. Stick with the well known sites. Teeneagers who use filesharing software like BitTorrent, Azureus, Kazaa, Morpheus, Grokster, and Limewire, often unwittingly download spyware and trojans. If you must, quarantine all downloads then scan them a few days later with an updated anti-virus.

4. Update your OS regularly! Turn on automatic updates in OS X and Windows. Apply all critical updates immediately. Criminals often create hacks within 24 hours of Microsoft’s patches (these are called zero day exploits), so you need to protect yourself the day the patches appear.

5. Use a firewall. The best firewall is a hardware router - the kind you use to share an internet connection. Even if they’re not billed as firewalls, they are, and they’re quite effective. I also recommend turning on your operating system’s firewall - even if you have a router - but I don’t recommend third-party software firewalls. They cause more problems than they solve.

6. Never run as an administrator in any operating system. Administrators have way too many priveleges that malicious people/code can take advantage of. Run as a limited user as much as possible. Windows Vista, Linux, and Mac OSX allow you to run a majority of features, but with some additional safety, as a limited user.

Slayer Leo's wisdom can still be learned by visiting Slayer Leo has numerous podcasts available to listen to online or for download.

What's that, citizen? What's a podcast? Citizen, how much time do you think the Slayer has? Please make use of Slayer Leo's rules and wait patiently for the Slayer to return.

Until then citizens, be strong, be safe, and pass on what you have learned...

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