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Protecting your PC from April Fools tricks

by Diana Zoga

KMOV.com

Posted on March 31, 2010 at 9:53 PM

Updated Sunday, Apr 4 at 10:09 AM

Remember Conficker?  Last year, you probably heard the warnings about the conficker worm and the potential it would cause massive problems on April 1st 2009:  www.kmov.com/archive/68928962.html

The first week of April typically brings out new attempts to attack computers with either spyware, malware, viruses, or some other inconvenient combination.

Vince Sechrest, a network consultant at Systems Service Enterprises, explains that this is a good time to make sure you're practicing good computer security habits.

First, make sure you're installing all critical security updates. When you're computer shows you a message saying there are new updates to install, don't put them off. I know lots of people who keep clicking on the "remind me later" button and never get around to patching security holes.

For instance, Microsoft put out emergency patches this week.

Make sure you're up to speed at: update.microsoft.com

While you're at it, make sure your other applications are updated (Java, Adobe, etc...) Vince says that this site offers a free personal software inspector (PSI) for download:  secunia.com

It will check on third party software updates. Keep in mind, the free download is available to home users only, not businesses.

Whether you use McAfee, Symantic, or any of the others, make sure your virus protection software is running and updated. If you don't use virus protection software, you can download a basic package from Microsoft Security Essentials for free: www.microsoft.com/security_essentials/

Don't open suspicious email attachments. Tomorrow, you may find emails with subject lines offering great April Fools pranks, but don't fall the trick.  Vince says that you can check a suspicious file by uploading it to this website: www.virustotal.com/

Don't open the file, just upload it and the site will check with dozens of antivirus programs to determine if the file could contain a virus.

Finally, avoid clicking around on unknown websites. If you use Fire Fox as your web browser, you can enable the following add-ons to increase protection while surfing the web.

Vince says: NoScript blocks JavaScript from automatically running when you visit a site.

WorldIP will display the country the website operates from.

Web of Trust will warn you about risky sites before you pull them up on your PC. For example, if you do a google search, WOT will color code which sites are known to be safe in the results section.

As for conficker? Vince says it's still around.

"There's a lot of speculation that at any given time, it could be used for unknown purposes. So, it hasn't gone away," said Vince.

For more information about SSE, check here: www.sseinc.com/

Diana Zoga is a general assignment reporter at News4.  You can email her at dzoga@kmov.com  You can also follow her on TWITTER: www.twitter.com/DIANAZOGA

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