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5 Star Support Monthly Newsletter

January 2006 Issue

Inside this issue:

1) Notes from the Editor
2) Computer Security Review
3) Create an XP SP2 Recovery CD
4) Internet Security - Revisited
5) Secure a new computer prior to going online
6) Home Computer Security
7) Support 4 Vista - Free Windows Vista Support
8) Reader Notes
9) Contact Information

[1] Notes from the editor:
by: Vince Underwood

Happy New Year to all!

I sincerely apologize for the lack of newsletters last year. This is a new year and I hope to keep up with this monthly publication from here on out!

If there are any of you that would like to write for this newsletter. Please use the contact information below to contact me.

In light of the latest virus threats that have been unleashed on Internet users. I would like to dedicate this newsletter to computer security. All of the articles that are listed in this publication have either been written by myself or by volunteers of 5 Star Support. We have taken large strides here at 5-Star to keep your computer safe by keeping you informed of the latest threats and how to avoid them.

Be sure to see our NEW Security Center:
http://www.5starsupport.com/security-center.htm

<> New 5 Star Support Forum:

I have purchased the Invision Power Board software for our discussion forums. This is very powerful discussion forum software with exciting new features. Please visit our new forums and have a look around. We have very capable Moderators on staff that can help you with nearly any computer related problem! Also, we have some of the best security experts on the web on our forums!

Also, while you're there, go ahead and create your own Blog. It's FREE!

http://www.5starsupport.com/ipboard/index.php

Now, sit back, relax and enjoy your first 2006 5 Star Support Newsletter!

----------====== Please send this newsletter to all of your friends======----------

[2] Computer Security Review:
By: Dave
5 Star Security Specialist

<>Security Programs and Solutions:

Compatible with PC’s running Windows 98, 98se, ME, 2000 professional, XP Home and XP Professional including XPsp2. Should also work well with Windows NT 4.0, and if you are running WinNT, Win2k, or WinXP, remember you need to be logged on as administrator to install any of these programs.

NOTE: For best (easiest) results, the programs should be installed in the order listed below. If you already have one or more of these installed in your computer, no worries, just add the ones you don’t have. I strongly recommend reading all 17 pages before you do anything to your system to be sure it is something you want to do. Most of the programs listed below are free for the personal or SOHO user, except for the last three listed in the section under Adware/Spyware (not free but good), and the Ewido Security Suite. Companies or businesses should use the paid licensed versions in all cases. Read the licensing agreement to determine which programs require purchase for business use. These programs are all for individual PC or workstation use and are not designed for server installation.

<>Anti-virus and Firewalls:

http://www.grisoft.com

-=AVG Anti-Virus, free edition. Download & install, get updates from within program. Set to run a scan every day at a specified time convenient to you. Set files to be considered out dated after 7 days. Be sure to update weekly. A download link and activation ser# will be provided from Grisoft via two separate e-mails. Be sure to register. Not as well rated as Symantec Norton, but a very good free alternative. It does seem to consistently have the ability to “heal” a number of infected files that Norton could not do anything with, and its’ reaction speed to incoming threats is very fast. The programming is excellent and the database for definitions actually runs hours ahead of Norton Anti-Virus. I actually run AVG Pro instead of Norton. I scan weekly.

-=Zone Labs offers a very good free firewall. It is easy to set up, and the help section is very good. If you want to try the Zone Lab firewall, you can get it at:

http://www.zonelabs.com/store/content/company/products/znalm/freeDownload.jsp

Just click on the link at the top of this web site page for “Download FREE Zone Alarm” and you are all set. The download is around 2.6 MB. Be sure to register the software and check the can Zone Labs contact you box. If the box is checked, you will receive notification from Zone Labs if there are program changes, as well as new versions of the firewall when they are released. They usually release a new version of their firewall about two times annually.

Read the entire article here:
http://www.5starsupport.com/tutorial/security-review.htm

=============================

[3] Create an XP SP2 Recovery CD:
By: Vince Underwood

Warning: Not for the feint of heart!

In the event that something should go wrong with your Windows XP installation, are you prepared to deal with the issue quickly and effectively? Most people will answer "No" to this question. In this tutorial, I will teach you how to create a Windows XP Recovery CD that will help with any of the following situations:

*Hard Drive Crash
*Virus Attack
*Malware Attack
*Driver Corruption
*Accidental Data Deletion

The reason that it is necessary to create a Windows XP Recovery CD is due to the fact that using your original Windows XP CD will only restore your system back to original factory settings. Your original Windows XP CD will not have updated drivers, previously installed software and will wipe your hard drive clean of all your data when a complete reinstallation is chosen.

With a good Recovery CD, you can restore your computer back to a current installation. You can use it to reinstall a corrupt driver or even restore all of your data that you have backed up.

Read the entire article here:
http://www.5starsupport.com/tutorial/xp-recovery-cd.htm

===============================

[4] Internet Security - Revisited:
By: Vince Underwood

It was not long ago when surfing the Internet was pretty worry free. Times have definitely changed! Surfing the Internet without protection these days is sure trouble. The bare minimum of protection that I recommend is:
Be sure that your Operating System has all of its available critical updates and patches installed.

Occasionally, updates and patches are released to either patch known holes in software where there is a security breach, or to improve the functionality of a certain program or programs. In either case, it is very important to install these updates when they are released to keep your system safe and sound.

You have a software or hardware firewall installed and is functioning at all times.

You don't have to go out and pay big bucks for a firewall these days. There are plenty of free products that will do the job just fine. I recommend ZoneAlarm. This is an easy to install and easy to use product that is very effective in keeping your system safe from intrusions. You can download it here:

http://www.zonelabs.com/store/content/home.jsp

You have a good Anti-Virus program that is up-to-date and used regularly.

Anti-Virus software is also available for free. Norton and McAfee are said to be good products, but I have never had either of them. I use AVG and have used it for years. They have come a long way in making this product self-updating and auto-scanning. If you have a constant on connection to the Internet, then all you would need to do is set the time that you would like it to scan, and that's it! It will update itself and then scan your system for possible virus and in most cases, if it finds anything, it will automatically fix them. The highlights include:

Highlights include:

*Automatic update functionality
*The AVG Resident Shield, which provides real-time protection as files are opened and programs are run
*The AVG E-mail Scanner, which protects your e-mail
*The AVG On-Demand Scanner, which allows the user to perform scheduled and manual tests
*Free Virus Database Updates for the lifetime of the product
*AVG Virus Vault for safe handling of infected files

You can download this product here:

http://free.grisoft.com/doc/2/lng/us/tpl/v5

You have a minimum of three anti-spyware scanners installed on your system and that they are up-to-date and used regularly.

Spyware is getting to be more and more malicious these days, hence the name "malware". There is so much spyware/malware on the Internet that it is almost impossible for one single anti-spyware company to keep up to date with it. There-fore, it is increasingly important to have more than one anti-spyware scanner loaded, updated and used on your system on a regular basis. When I say regular basis, this is going to depend on your Internet usage and surfing habits. Just to give you an idea of what the spyware can do once it is loaded in to your system, it can:

*Change your network settings
*Monitor keystrokes
*Scan files on the hard drive
*Change the default home page on the Web browser
*Gather e-mail addresses
*Monitor your activity on the Internet
*Gather passwords and credit card numbers

Any information that the spyware has been programmed to gather will be sent back to the author of the spyware.

As I had mentioned earlier, it is advisable to have more than one anti-spyware scanner loaded on your system. The ones that I recommend are:

*Adaware SE
*Spybot Search and Destroy
*CWShredder

These, and more can be loaded right here at 5 Star Support for free using the link below:

http://www.5starsupport.com/info/virusinfo.htm

=============================

[5] Secure a new computer prior to going online:
By: Vince Underwood

It has been proven that a computer straight out of the box and then connected to the Internet can be infected by viruses and worms in less than 30 seconds. To avoid this very unpleasant situation, please take the time to safe-guard your computer by following these simple steps listed below:

<>Enable the Windows Firewall:

If your Windows XP Operating System has the SP2 update installed already, it is most likely that the Windows Firewall is turned on. However, some computer manufactures or system administrators will turn this feature off. So, check to make sure that it is turned on for the moment.

Read the entire article here:
http://www.5starsupport.com/tutorial/secure-computer.htm

==============================

[6] Home Computer Security:
By: Santana Holcomb
5 Star Support Technician

<> Use Anti-Virus Program:

I had seen the comparison about someone wanting into your home versus a virus wanting into your computer and liked it. It is very much the same. If someone wanted to come into your house to sell you something or to use your telephone, you have to make a decision of whether or not to let him or her in. If they were someone you knew of course you’d probably let them in. If you didn’t know them but believed their story and found them to be acceptable to you and non-threatening, you would probably let them in, but you would watch them closely while they were in your house or make the call for them.

What are you doing above is making a mental profile of that person. Then you are deciding what to do based on your profile. It’s your responsibility to be concerned about who comes into your house. Then for those of you who have children you’ve probably told them how to deal with strangers who come to the door.

All anti-virus programs work in about the same way. These programs look at the contents of files and are searching for patterns that match a profile that is called a virus signature that is known to be harmful. For each match it finds the anti-virus program provides options on how to respond to it. Anti-virus needs to be updated regularly so their virus signatures are up to date for new viruses.
When anti-virus program vendors learn about a new virus, they provide an updated set of virus signatures that include that new one. Through the updated virus signatures your computer learns of the new virus and begins checking for it while checking for all the older viruses. Viruses never completely fade away. They remain part of the master version of the virus signature.

Viruses can infect your computer through floppy disks, CD-ROM’S, downloaded files, email and web sites. You need to check each for viruses before you use them. When you receive email, check it for viruses. When you insert a floppy disk check it for viruses. When you download a file from the Internet check it for viruses before you use it. Most anti-virus programs let you specify all of those places to check for viruses each time you use them.

Anti-virus programs have advanced features that extend their capabilities beyond virus signature. Example is there is the sometime is not quite right so the anti-virus doesn’t let it in. It may have some of the characteristics of a virus. This is called a heuristic test. They help you to keep up with new viruses that are not yet in your list of virus signatures.

<> Keep Your Operating System Up To Date:

Most vendors provide patches or up dates that are supposed to fix problems or bugs in their product. Vendors usually provide patches for free on their web sites. Some software vendors may also sell support for theirs. Registering your product gives the vendor the information they need to contact you if there is a patch or update. Some vendors have in their product a way to tell you when patches are available, download them, and even install them. You can have the update do only what you want, such as saying an update is ready but not loading it.

The patching process is getting easier by where it can be completely automated but it is in no way foolproof. Sometimes the patch or update can cause a problem with something else in your system. You need to read up on the update/patch before loading it so that if the vendor knows about the problem they might have a work around for it already. If not then you must let the vendor know right away what happened so they can work on fixing it.

Read to entire article here:
http://www.5starsupport.com/tutorial/computer_security.htm

======================================

[7] Support 4 Vista - Free Windows Vista Support:
http://www.support4vista.com

As some of you may know, Microsoft is creating a new Operating System called Windows Vista. It is due to release in the middle of 2006. Windows Vista will be a completely reconstructed operating system.

To keep informed about this new operating system, I have created a new web site:

Support 4 Vista - Free Windows Vista Support
http://www.support4vista.com

Currently, I have a few tips, tricks, frequently asked question and news articles. I will keep adding information as it becomes available to help keep you informed. Once Windows Vista is released, you can be sure that Support 4 Vista will be your source for help on the web. As with all of my web sites, it will not cost you a dime. Support 4 Vista will be free as is 5 Star Support!

Have a look around at Support 4 Vista and get familiar with this new operating system.

============================

[8] Reader Notes:

Faithful reader; Jim Hamm wrote in to inform of two security products that he has used with great success! Jim writes:

"As an additional input on programs to consider to protect your PC, here are two to call to your attention:

Avast antivirus (free version)..... I've used this for three or more years, and find it is excellent. With regards to the recent WMF vulnerability, it caught 100%. AVG didn't - but I'm not knocking AVG or any other program...just offering another one to take a look at...


Prevx....(free trial) again, I've used the free version of this for years. It is an Intrusion Prevention Service - which means, best I can tell, is nothing can get installed on your computer without your express consent. Some times it can be a 'pain in the ankle', because it blocks anything you try to install. I find it best to temporarily suspend Prevx when installing any program."

============================

[9] Contact Information:

I hope that you have enjoyed 5 Star Support’s January 2006 Newsletter. If there is anything that we can do to make it better, please don’t hesitate to contact us:

editor@5starsupport.com

We are looking for people to run their own tips sections of the newsletter. If you would like to make your name known as an author, this is a great place to start. Send all inquiries to:

admin@5starsupport.com

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