From Your Webmaster

Your PC is an integral component of train collecting activities such as on-line sales, research,  collector communications, and collection inventory maintenance.  This page provides valuable tips, techniques, and important security information to help you keep your computer running quickly and efficiently.

 

PC Security

PC Security Tips from SANS 
SANS is the most trusted and by far the largest source for information security training and security certification in the world.

The Best Security Suites for 2011
PC Magazine reviewed nearly a dozen of next year's security suites; their roundup can help you decide which will keep you safe from viruses, hackers, spam, threats to your privacy, and much more.

15 Things Every PC User Should Know
Whether you're a grizzled tech veteran or an uninitiated newbie, here are 15 essential facts and tricks that you ought to know.

How Did My Protected PC Get Infected?
How could happen when your PC is protected.

How to Stop 11 Hidden Security Threats
Antivirus software and a firewall alone can't guarantee your safety. Here's how to foil the latest crop of sneaky attacks and nefarious attempts to steal your data
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Commonly used security terms

Blackhats. Hackers who use their skills for explicitly criminal or other malicious ends, such as writing malware (malicious software) to steal credit card numbers and banking data or by phishing; a.k.a. the Bad Guys.

Phishing. The practice of sending out fake email messages that look as if they come from a trusted person or institution-usually a bank-in order to trick people into handing over confidential information. The emails often direct you to a website that looks like that of the real financial institution. But it is a fake and has been rigged to collect your personal information, such as passwords, credit card numbers and bank account numbers, and transmit them to the Bad Guys.

Man-in-the-middle. An attack in which a criminal hacker intercepts information sent between your computer and the website of your financial institution and then uses that information to impersonate you in cyberspace. The hacker is able to defeat even very sophisticated security measures and gain access to your account.

Botnet. Botnets consist of large numbers of hijacked computers that are under the remote control of a criminal or a criminal organization. The hijacked computers-a.k.a. "zombies" or "bots" (short for "robots") -are recruited using viruses spread by email or drive-by downloads. Worms are used to find and recruit additional computers. The biggest botnets consist of thousands and even millions of computers, most often unprotected home computers.

Virus. A malicious program that usually requires some action on the part of a user in order to infect a computer; for example, opening an infected attachment or clicking on a link in a rigged email may trigger a virus to infect your computer.

Drive-by Download. A kind of malware that installs itself automatically when you visit a booby-trapped website. Symptoms of a drive-by download

Include: your homepage has been changed, unwanted toolbars have been added, and unfamiliar bookmarks appear in your browser.

Worm. Self-replicating malware that, for instance, hunts down unprotected computers and recruits them for criminal or other malicious purposes. Unlike a virus, worms do not require any action on your part in order to infect your computer.

Fake Anti-Virus. Fake anti-virus software purports to be a helpful program than can find and remove malware, but in fact it is malware--the very thing that it's supposed to eliminate. After taking over your computer, it pretends to do security scans, tells you it has found malware, and then asks you to pay to have the non-existent malware removed. Whether or not you pay, fake anti-virus is likely to install more malware.

Whitehats. Hackers who use their skills for positive ends, and often for thwarting blackhats. Many whitehats are security professionals who spend their time identifying and fixing vulnerabilities in software that blackhats seek to exploit for criminal or other malicious purposes.

Security suite. A set of software applications designed to protect your computer that consists of anti-virus, anti-malware and a personal firewall.

Anti-virus and anti-malware. Helpful software applications that scan your computer for certain patterns of infection. The patterns they scan for are the signatures, or definitions, of known forms of malware. Since Bad Guys are creating new forms of malware continuously, it is important that you keep your anti-virus and anti-malware definitions updated. See the "Patches and Updates" section below.

Personal firewall. Software that monitors incoming and outgoing traffic on your computer and checks for suspicious patterns indicating the presence of malware or other malicious activity. A personal firewall alerts you to these threats and attempts to block them. Like anti-virus and anti-malware software, personal firewalls require frequent updates to provide effective protection.

Updates. Security software relies on frequent updates in order to be able to counteract previously undetected forms of malware. Consequently, your computer may suffer a "window of vulnerability" between the time a new form of malware is identified and the time when your security software can block it or remove the infection. Set your security software to update automatically.

Patches. Operating systems, like Windows and OS X, and software applications, such as Internet Explorer and Firefox, may be found to contain security flaws or holes that make your computer vulnerable to attack. Their makers release patches to plug the holes. The fastest and surest way to get these installed quickly is to use auto-updating via the Internet. Some software applications require manual updating. See the "Patches and Updates" section below.

Black Tuesday a.k.a. Patch Tuesday. On the second Tuesday of each month Microsoft releases security patches for Windows, Internet Explorer, Office and its other software products. You can have these installed automatically using Microsoft Update.

Auto-updating. A software tool built into Windows ("Microsoft Update") and OS X ("Auto Update") and many other applications which can download and install important security updates and patches for software installed on your computer automatically.

 

PC Tips

When I try to access a particular site on the Web, I get a "Page cannot be displayed" error.  What can I do to reach the site?
 
There could be a number of reasons causing this problem , such as your browser, PC, or router if you have one. 

Here are the easiest and most common methods for troubleshoot and solving this issue.  Try the steps below until you are able to access the site in question:

1.   If you are using Firefox, Chrome, or other browser, try Internet Explorer - it's comes pre-installed with Windows.

2.  If you are using Internet Explorer, try clearing your browser's temporary cache and cookies.  Select Tools > Internet Options.  Now, use the options that allow you to delete temporary Internet files and cookies.   Then close and reopen the browser and try the site again.

3.  Reset your PC and communications equipment.  Unplug the PC from the router as well as the cable or DSL modem.  Remover power from the router and modem and power down the PC.  Restore power to the modem and wait until the lights indicate that the modem is working properly.  Reconnect all the cables and restore power to the router and PC.

4.  Access the site's using it's IP address.   Instead of entering the site's domain name (URL), enter the site's IP address into your browser's address bar.  If the IP address gets you to the site, it means that something in the network path is providing your with an invalid IP address for the domain name you entered.  To find a site's IP Address use SEO's Toolkit site ( Find a Site's IP Address ) .   Fill in the box labeled 'Enter URL:' and click on 'Get IP'.  The IP address should have 4 sets of 3-character numbers, each set separated by a period.  Use this address in your browser to access the site.

5.  Try another PC.  This will at least eliminate or isolate your PC as the cause of the problem.   If your PC seems to be the cause, consult a PC repair service for assistance.

6.  Try your PC at a different network access point, such as a wi-fi enabled store or library, or a neighbor's house.  If you can access the site, the problem lies within your router or modem.  Consult your Internet provider first.  If they can't help, consult a PC repair service.

If none of these methods resolve the issue, there are other areas in your PC and on the network that could be the source of the problem, such as your hosts file or router settings.  These require various levels of advanced computer skills to troubleshoot.  I recommend you contact a PC repair service for assistance.

 

I would like a program to always open up in full screen mode when I launch it.  Is this possible?

Yes, this is possible.  Just follow these steps:

1.  Locate the shortcut icon that you normally use to launch the program.  It could be in your Taskbar Quick Launch area at the bottom left of the screen, somewhere on your desktop, or in the Start>Programs menu.  

2.  Right click on the icon and select Properties from the drop-down menu.  The Properties window will open.

3.  In the Properties window, drop down the "Run:" options and select Maximized.

4.  Click Ok

Now whenever you use that shortcut icon to launch the program, it will open in full screen mode.

 

The Greatest Windows Tips of All Time
If you don't know every one of these 26 classic tricks, utilities, and shortcuts for XP, Vista, or Windows 7, you're not getting your money's worth out of Windows.
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PC Maintenance: What Tasks When?
Regular chores that will keep you PC healthy.
Microsoft Safety & Security Center
This is Microsoft's useful resource for computer security, digital privacy, and online safety.  You can also sign up for their newsletter.
 
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