Finding Perfect Protection: is it Possible?

If you have a PC, then you have a problem. It comes with the package when you first open up the box and plug in your computer. You cannot escape it, this inevitable attack on your privacy is something we all have to live with, but is there protection out there that will totally 100% stop thieves and hackers from messing with our computer?

Opinions vary on this issue, some think the idea preposterous and others are more sure of an anti-virus security that is able to protect the computer.

It all depends on what kind of security software you are using. Beware: just because a software like Norton or McAfee comes built-in and ready to go on a new computer does NOT mean that it is a good choice in protection. There have been a lot of complaint recently about this conundrum of having to deal with all these programs that are already installed on the computer, and cannot be removed. So what do can you do to find the right software?

Research. Read blogs like this one. Educate yourself, knowledge of which security programs work and which suck ultimately comes down to experience. In the case of internet and computer security, hearing about other people’s experiences with certain anti-virus software and how they either saved them or failed them is important information to people like you and me who might be clueless.

Let’s look at the record.

Firewall does not always protect your internet from being invaded by hackers, especially Windows firewall. In the past this has not worked, so check the record, for the future do not put your PC at risk by settling on a crappy firewall service. Firewall comes from the original lack of internet security back in the 80’s when the Morris Worm spread its way to thousands of computers shutting them down because there was unlimited access.

Firewall was introduced to restrict access. It acts as a traffic check, looking at all the communication coming into the computer and seeing if it matches with its own protocol. Web browsing, remote printing, email transmission, and file transfer are common forms of traffic that are stopped at the firewall. If it does not recognize the packet of information in the files coming in, it will ask you for permission to let it into your system.

For example: you just installed a business application that needs access to the internet in order to get updates. In order for this program to work properly, you need to give it the okay to access the internet, a box appears with yes or no. Firewall is very important in protecting your computer against attacks.

Best Anti-Virus Software

If you are cheap like me, then you are looking for the best anti-virus software that has the magical four lettered word attached to it: FREE. For this I choose Avira AntiVir Personal, where a lot of people chose this option based on its virus scan engine called “Luke Filewalker”. Very clever, they deserve a round of applause for that one! Unfortunately, as is the case with free programs, it lacks what you could get with the premium package. There is no email protection, parental controls, anti-spam, or firewall with the free program.

I recommend downloading Comodo’s Free Firewall to bolster the defenses along with Avira to make sure your computer is completely safe. To answer the debate about perfect protection? The answer lies in what steps you are willing to take against attackers by paying money for software or finding security programs that are free and can do what you need them to do so you can go along your way without worries.

DirectAccess Replaces VPN for Windows 7

Microsoft has unveiled Direct Access for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008, remotely connecting users to their office as if they were right there. Establishing bi-directional connectivity with the user?s enterprise network, this solution keeps them connected to their office, forging a link each time the user?s computer ? provided it?s enabled by DirectAccess ? is connected to the internet.

As the workforce transforms, with the information age evolving at a rapid pace, the needs of an organization adapt accordingly. Increasingly, employees are working from remote locations, the advances in internet technology affording them the ability to work from an off-site location ? home, business meeting abroad, etc.

The mobility of our workforce has contributed to the success of those companies driving our economy, with new technologies facilitating the uninterrupted productivity of employees whose presence in the office is no longer a necessary component in the operations of an efficient and profitable enterprise. By 2011, the number of mobile employees is expected to have increased by 30.4 percent (IDC, ?Worldwide Mobile Worker Population 2007-2011 Forecast,? Doc #209813, Dec 2007).

While technology has contributed to an outgrowth of wireless communication, with the internet providing the backbone for those gains, corporate security ? namely, firewalls ? obstruct the accessibility of those resources which are native to an office. This poses a number of problems, not the least of which being access to the network from those IT professionals tasked with managing the corporation?s network.

In the past, VPN (Virtual Private Network) has been the solution employed for that purpose. However, as any IT professional will tell you, the use of a VPN can prove challenging. VPN requires users to wait for authentication, a process that can see the end user waiting for what has commonly amounted to several minutes. If internet connectivity is lost, the VPN connection will be severed, requiring the user to repeat the authentication process. With alternatives providing even less functionality and additional hurdles to overcome, VPN has become the de facto solution, its problems notwithstanding.

Surmounting the challenges inherent to VPN, DirectAccess immediately establishes a bi-directional connection between the user?s computer and office?s network. Using Windows 7, the DirectAccess client detects its connection to a network. The DirectAccess client will then connect to an intranet website designated during the initial configuration of DirectAccess. The process is seamless and automatic. Unlike VPN, which requires authentication with each use, DirectAccess authenticates the computer before the user even attempts to access the network.

Easier to use than VPN, the efficiency of DirectAccess is a boon to the productivity of an enterprise?s workforce. With a transparent connection to their corporate network, employees will no longer find themselves enduring the cumbersome process that has soured many? on the use of VPN. Using DirectAccess, the information on a company?s network ? intranet, applications, file-shares ? is accessible wherever the employee finds an internet connection for their portable computer.

Computer Geeks, a leader in on-site technical assistance, prides itself on educating the public about those advances that are relevant to the industry within which we continue to grow. If you have any questions about DirectAccess, never hesitate to call us.? Our technicians are here to assist you.

Virgin America & Google’s Free WiFi for the Holidays: What You Need to Know

Virgin America has teamed up with Google to offer customers free in-flight WiFi between November 10th, 2009 and January 15th, 2010. If you get the opportunity to take advantage of this special offer from Virgin America, the security of your internet will probably be the last thing on your mind, but it shouldn’t be. Any time that your computer is connected to a public wireless network without proper precautions, you’re at risk.

When you’re on an open wireless network with other people, those other users can do more than just access the internet; they can get into your computer as well. Any information that you don’t have properly protected can be opened, copied, or even deleted from another computer without so much as a notification to you. It might seem a bit unlikely that someone would do something so drastic, but remember that you’re going to be on a plane for several hours with a bunch of other people who have nothing better to do than push boundaries. Depending on the quality of the in-flight movie, you might have a fellow passenger who thinks it’s more entertaining to watch you panic. (They exist, check out the NY Times article The Trolls Among Us if you can’t believe it.)

The good news is that you can do something about it. In addition to your standard firewall and anti-virus, there are several methods that our certified techs can use to secure your system and keep all of your private files private. Call Computer Geeks today to set up an appointment with one of our techs, whether you’re hopping on a Virgin America flight or not.

That disgruntled kid in the seat next to you will just have to surf the free internet instead.

Setting up a firewall can put your mind at ease

Setting up a firewall can put your mind at ease

Within the private confines of their home, away from the prying eyes of co-workers lurking nearby, the average user of a home PC figures they can surf? the internet without worrying about intruders. Spyware and Viruses are all that concern them, the installation of malware protection enough to ward off any stress about their computer’s vulnerability.

Yet, no matter how much we caution users against leaving their computers unprotected from malware, those pests are not the only threat to which your attention should be turned.? Many home networks remain susceptible to the ill intentions of unwanted visitors.

Piggybacking ranks as one of the most common offenses, the term referring to the unauthorized use of bandwidth by an outside party.? With a wireless connection, piggybackers access an unsecured network, using it as if it were their own. While piggybacking is a relatively mild transgression, usually committed by a struggling college undergrad who can’t afford internet service, it can impact the availability of bandwidth on your network — resulting in a slow response time when using the internet.

The more serious violations of network security occur when an intruder invades your network for the express purpose of retrieving private information.? Housed on your network are files of all sorts, personal data that you wish to secure against snoops and thieves. Without ample safeguards in place, unauthorized users can ferret sensitive information from your network and use it for their own design.

Many people unwittingly leave their networks open, unaware that they’re leaving themselves subject to the unwelcome motives of the internet’s less scrupulous population. Protecting yourself against these incursions is paramount, and one of the most effective ways to do so is the establishment of a? firewall.

Firewalls do exactly what the term suggests, erecting a wall of protection that shields your network from outsiders, blocking entry to those who haven’t been granted authorization. They can be implemented through software or hardware, to varying degrees, depending on just how secure you want to be.

For those looking to set up a firewall on their network, here are a couple free solutions that I like:

Creating a firewall can be an involving process. If not properly configured, your firewall will leave you no more protected than you were? before its installation.? Should you have any questions on how to build one, feel free to give our office a call. We are here to help you.

When to Repair and When to Replace.

Old Computers

Old Computers

One of the most frequently asked questions in this field is:? should I pay for computer repair or get a new computer instead?? This isn’t as tough to figure out as it sounds.? Some people have an emotional attachment to their computers that makes it a bit more difficult than it has to be, but usually it’s pretty simple.? So, let’s go over how to make the decision to repair or replace.

As a PC repair technician when I am looking at a computer my first goal is to decide whether or not it is worth fixing based on several different factors.? Once I’ve settled on an answer for myself I will call a customer back and explain what I believe to be the best solution to them, whether it is going forward on the computer repair for their old machine or advising them that a new system would likely be a better investment.? I do this because it is not my job to charge you as much as I can, it is my job to provide you with the best possible computer?service?I can.? Sometimes this means you need to purchase a new computer, sometimes it means we should be repairing your current one.

The factors I use to evaluate whether you would be better served with a new machine or with repairs to your old one are cost, complexity of the pc repairs, and the age of the computer.? Complex problems — such as an extensive virus infection that hasn’t been repaired in months requiring the entire system to be wiped, reinstalled from scratch, the data replaced, and the installation of more effective anti-virus solutions — can be very expensive because of the time involved in fixing them. Simple problems — like installing new RAM, resetting passwords, or optimizing a very slow computer — are quick and therefore relatively inexpensive. The age of the computer must also be taken into consideration because of the constantly changing standards in the field. A machine that was top of the line six months ago will only be somewhat impressive at the present, and in four years time companies will not even be designing programs to run on computers that slow.

The end result looks something like this: if it will cost you more than a new computer to fix the computer then you should buy a new computer and have someone transfer your data for you.? If it will cost nearly as much as new computer to get it fixed and it is older than 2 years, then you definitely should be looking at new computers.? If it will cost about half as much as a new computer and its newer than 4 years, fix it, older than 4 years then its really up to you.? I would personally think about putting that money into a new computer and having someone transfer the data and secure it for me.? If the computer is newer than 4 years and not too hard to fix, then of course get it fixed.

There are two more things that we have to consider before making a final decision though:? software and data.? If you are planning on getting a new computer, when you try and figure out the cost you have to remember how much time it will take to get all of your software installed and configured, and also how much data you have to move.? These things can drive up the price on you, possibly making it a better option to fix your current computer.? The other software related factor is:? Do you have your original install discs and the serials/keys to install with?? If you need Microsoft Office on your computer, and it’s on the old one but you don’t have the discs anymore then you’re looking at $150-$400 depending on what version you need.? So always remember to factor in the costs of software that you might not have anymore and data transfer time.? If you have many gigs of music, movies and other large files then data transfer could take hours.

So in the end you have to figure out costs.? If the cost of a computer?repair is going to be more or close to the cost of a new computer plus extra work (data transfer, software install, security,)? then you want to replace it with a new computer.? If it is going to be significantly less than a new computers cost then it should be repaired.? One thing you should always do when you have a technician work on your computer is ask him up front to diagnose the situation and tell you as quick as he can whether you should be getting a new computer or having him fix this one.

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