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imgPrivacy.jpgCOMPUTER TIPS

Using your personal computer can be an enjoyable experience, providing you with the tools to make your life easier. It can also be very frustrating when your computer does not perform as expected.

The Bank of Kaukauna would like to share some simple tips that should improve your personal computing experience.

bulletGreenArrow.gif COMPUTING SAFELY
bulletGreenArrow.gif SPEED UP YOUR COMPUTER

Disclaimer: The tips provided are meant to be informational and are to be used at your discretion. We make no warranties as to their effectiveness. Recommendations are based on Microsoft XP operating system (most of the recommended software will also work on newer versions of Microsoft operating systems - check software vendor system requirements) and Microsoft Office word processing, spreadsheet, etc software. Some of the software mentioned is free for personal use only. Please consult a computer professional if you have specific questions relating to your computer.


Windows Updates / Office Updates

Microsoft provides free updates to keep your operating system and Office software up to date. By applying “patches”, you will help protect your computer from unwanted intruders and malicious software.

  • To automatically download and install critical Windows Updates, click START > CONTROL PANEL > SECURITY CENTER > AUTOMATIC UPDATES. Select the “Automatic (recommended)” radio button, then click APPLY and OK to save. 
  • Install Microsoft Update by clicking Windows Update and then clicking on “Upgrade to Microsoft Update. Automatically receive updates for Windows, Office and more”, located on the right side of the browser window, and then follow the upgrade instructions. Your automatic updates will now include Office updates (Word, Excel, Power Point, etc.).

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A firewall hides your computer from hacker probes. When your computer is invisible to probes, you are less likely to have unwanted malicious activity.

  • At a minimum, turn on Windows Firewall by clicking START > CONTROL PANEL > SECURITY CENTER > WINDOWS FIREWALL. Select the “On (recommended)” radio button, then click OK to save.
  • An even better solution is to install a good 3rd party software firewall that, in addition to blocking inbound probes, will block outbound transmissions. Should malicious software get installed on your computer, it may try to “call home”, sending information about your computer, your computing habits, or your confidential data. ZoneAlarm is a popular free software firewall.
  • Only run one firewall program on your computer.

Anti-Virus Software

It is extremely important to install a good anti-virus software to protect against viruses, worms, Trojans, and other malicious software. Anti-virus software helps by blocking malicious software from installing from email attachments, from browsing unsafe websites, or from infected software programs. It can also “clean” infections previously installed on your computer.

  • It is not enough to just install anti-virus software. You MUST update the software regularly to protect against new malicious software. Most anti-virus software can be set to automatically update.
  • Only install one anti-virus program. If you run multiple anti-virus programs, they will conflict.
  • Symantec and McAfee are two popular companies that sell anti-virus programs. The programs also have annual maintenance fees. These companies typically sell “security suites”, which package a firewall, anti-virus, anti-spyware, and other security software. Although they have been known to slow a computer down a bit, a “security suite” may be a good option if your computer knowledge is limited, or if you want to minimize the time necessary to keep each individual software up to date.
  • For a popular FREE anti-virus program, click AVG or avast!

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Anti-Spyware Software

Although not as serious of a threat as viruses, worms or Trojans, spyware and adware can make your computing experience unpleasant. Spyware tracks your Web surfing and reports your interests to a computer on the Internet. It can also manipulate your Internet browser, change your home page, or cause strange effects on your computer. Adware sits on your computer and feeds you ads. Both are culprits for slowing down your computer.

  • Unlike firewall and anti-virus software, you should run multiple anti-spyware software. Some are good at blocking spyware and adware from installing, and others are good at removing installed spyware and adware.
  • Click Windows Defender to install Microsoft’s free anti-spyware software. Once installed, it requires very little maintenance. It will update and run periodic scans automatically, and it is a blocking software.
  • Click Ad-Aware for a popular free scanning software that will remove spyware and adware from your computer.
  • SpywareBlaster and Spybot Search & Destroy are two additional free software programs that block spyware and adware from installing. Spybot Search & Destroy will also scan and remove unwanted software.

Keep Your Software Updated

You may be running any number of other software programs. You should make sure those programs are kept up to date and patched. Programs such as Adobe Reader, JAVA, and QuickTime often provide security updates. If a program does not have an automatic update feature, then you need to periodically check for updates manually.

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So how do you know if your security software is working properly? Here are a few ways to check, and they are free!

  • Microsoft provides Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer as a free software that will scan your computer to check for missing security updates for Microsoft products, check for system vulnerabilities, and check the security settings of Internet Explorer. When downloading, most users will select the “MBSASetup-x86-EN.msi” file.
  • Secunia Software Inspector is another free software that will scan your computer for missing security patches to most common programs. If a program is not properly patched, Secunia will provide information on how to fix it. You can do an online scan, or you can download the Personal Desktop version. Both are free for personal use.
  • Gibson Research Corporation provides a couple of quick tests to check for unsecure file sharing settings, and for unsecure or open service ports on your computer. Exposing your computer in either of these areas can leave you vulnerable to hackers. On their home page, hover your cursor over the “Services” button on the top left, then click on the “ShieldsUP!” link. Click “Proceed” on the next page, then follow the instructions to run the file sharing and port scans.

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Following a few common sense rules will go a long way toward keeping yourself out of trouble while using your computer. By being a little more careful about your computing habits you can minimize the ever increasing chance of a computer compromise.  Visit Microsoft's Online Safety and Privacy Education site for tools, how-tos and videos.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Click McAfee Site Advisor to install a free add-on to your Internet browser that will help you distinguish safe Web pages via green, yellow and red warnings.
  • Do not open unsolicited email, commonly known as “spam”. Just delete it. Do not reply to “Remove me from your list” type options as this only confirms to a spammer that you exist, which may lead to receiving more spam.
  • Never respond to unsolicited requests to confirm your social security number, account numbers, passwords, or other personal and confidential information.
  • Do not open unexpected attachments. They could very well contain malicious software that will install on your computer.
  • Understand that it is easy to “fake” or spoof the sender’s email address to look like one from someone you know. If the email seems unlikely, or has a suspicious attachment, check with the person before opening.
  • Do not respond to free offers, or to unsolicited offers, while surfing the Web, or received via email.
  • Be cautious of free programs. There are many excellent software programs available for free, such as those we have suggested. There are also less desirable programs that may contain spyware, viruses, or other malicious software. The Kim Komando Web site is a great source for programs that have been tested and determined to be safe.

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A slow running computer is a common complaint. Here are some tips that should restore some of your lost speed. You will need to run them periodically to maximize the results.

  • Make sure your anti-virus software is set to automatically scan your system at least weekly.
  • Run an anti-spyware scan every week or two and remove the detected spyware and adware.
  • Install the free CCleaner utility and run it a couple times a month to clean unused files from your computer system. Make sure the “Cleaner” button on the left side is selected. In the lower right corner, click the “Run Cleaner” button. Repeat until all files are cleaned. Next, click the “Registry” button on the left side. Click “Scan for Issues”. When the meter bar at the top is at 100%, click “Fix selected issues…” in the lower right corner. You can click “Yes” to back up the changes to the registry. Then click “Fix All Selected Issues”, and “OK” to the pop up. Click “Close”. Repeat the registry clean until no significant files remain.
  • Delete Internet browser temporary and history files once or twice a month. Click START > CONTROL PANEL > NETWORK AND INTERNET CONNECTIONS > INTERNET OPTIONS. On the “General” tab, click the “Delete…” button. Select the “Delete files…” button, then click “Yes” on the pop up. Next, select the “Delete history…” button, then click “Yes” on the pop up. Alternatively, you can select the “Delete all…” button, then check the box and click “Yes” on the pop up. This alternative will also delete cookies, which may contain logon or other information used when accessing Web sites.
  • Run Disk Cleanup once or twice a month. Click START > ALL PROGRAMS > ACCESSORIES > SYSTEM TOOLS > DISK CLEANUP. Click “OK” on the pop up to begin a scan. It may take some time, but will eventually pop up a new window. Make sure all the boxes are checked, then click “OK”, then “Yes” on the next pop up.
  • Check Disk Defragmenter a couple times a year. Click START > ALL PROGRAMS > ACCESSORIES > SYSTEM TOOLS > DISK DEFRAGMENTER. Click the “Analyze” button. If the pop up advises you to defragment, then do so. This process will take some time to complete.

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  • Kim Komando is a great source for improving your computer knowledge. She has a web site full of useful information, including links to trusted software downloads and a buying guide to help with your next electronics purchase. The Message Board is a source for answers to most computer questions. You can also sign up for free newsletters that provide easy to understand information.
  • Click Sharpened Glossary for a glossary of computer terms.
  • Click Anti-Spyware Coalition for a glossary of spyware terms.


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Links to additional sources of information are provided to you by The Bank of Kaukauna for your convenience. Please be advised that, in most cases, you will be leaving The Bank of Kaukauna's web site. Links that you choose that cause you to leave our web site are not owned or controlled by The Bank of Kaukauna, and we make no representations or warranties as to the privacy policies of other sites.

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