Keeping Your Business Computer Safe and Secure
We’re continuing our look at easy and inexpensive ways to keep your computer clean and in great shape. Last time, we discussed antivirus software (link). Today, we’re talking about the less obvious kinds of malware that can creep up every day.
Spyware and adware are some other little nasty things that can cause trouble in your computer. They can watch your activity, pop up ads, redirect you to websites you never meant to see, and any number of other unsavory things. Even if you’re extremely careful in your browsing and downloading habits, there is probably some spyware or adware on your computer right now. Some freeware programs have it built in, and won’t work without it. But there are ways around it.
Unlike antivirus software, which will conflict if you run more than one program, antispyware programs benefit from backup, and running two is a good idea. One of the most popular free antispyware programs out there is Spybot Search & Destroy(link), and it pairs wonderfully with Ad-aware(link), which is also free. Make sure that you are downloading these from trusted sources, because there have been some knock-offs which may insert more spyware than they remove.
After you have downloaded and installed your antispyware programs, make sure that they have the latest spyware signature files, and then run a full scan. This will take a long time, maybe even longer than the initial antivirus scan. When it finishes, you will have the option to fix the errors, which you should do. Then run another scan. Immediately. Nine times out of ten, the second scan will still show a good number of errors. Rinse and repeat until a scan runs clean, or, as is more likely, it keeps showing just the same few errors every time. At that point, reboot, and run your second program, and continue running scans until that one runs clean (or as close as you can get). If there are still errors showing, try searching the web for specialized removal tools. Be careful, though! Back up your system thoroughly before running any of those extra strength spyware removers.
Now your computer is clean. But you still need to configure those antispyware programs to keep it that way. It’s a good idea to set one program to run every time the computer boots up (of the two mentioned here, Spybot Search & Destroy is best for this), and also set both to run once a week. Don’t worry, you aren’t going to spend your life unable to use your computer because it’s running scans! You can schedule your antispyware scans right behind your weekly antivirus deep scan (antivirus runs at 12am on Sundays, Spybot runs at 1am, Ad-aware runs at 2am), or you can set them each for a different day. Just don’t try to run any two scans at the same time. While you’re configuring things, make sure to turn on any real-time blocking or monitoring your antispyware offers. This can warn you before anything gets entrenched in your system.
Spyware can be nasty and persistent, but it doesn’t have to bog down your computer!