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A NOLA IT Professional’s Advice on Staying Safe on the Internet

Everyday there is a battle of Good versus Evil on the internet. Every morning guys and girls like me wake up, have a cup of coffee, and prepare to do battle with malicious programs out there on the world wide web. Fortunately for me, a NOLA IT professional, there are a few lines of defense that make my job a whole heck of a lot easier; namely the end user, firewalls, antivirus software, etc.

But let me be honest, none of these forms of protections are perfect. Firewalls and antivirus software are not entirely impenetrable, and I can’t tell you how many times I come across “PEBKAC” errors [Problem exists between keyboard and chair)], but as a Networking Technician it is my mission to better educate you guys on how to keep your computers safe while exploring the vast sea that is the Internet. This morning, I want to focus on how YOU, the end user; and how YOU can keep your sensitive information safe

1. Never call Microsoft

What do you mean never call Microsoft? Shouldn’t they be the most prepared to confront a virus that has made its way into my operating system?

And the answer to that is… Yes, absolutely. But the bullet point is purposefully misleading to emphasize a point. It should actually read “Never call Microsoft if your computer tells you to do so.” Often times, if we are not careful, we may accidentally click on the wrong button, link, or drop down menu that these internet villains programmed to cause a pop-up to come up on your screen that looks something like this:

nola it professional don't call microsoft
Do NOT Call Microsoft if a Warning Screen like the one Pictured Above Pops Up!

Don’t be alarmed if this happens to you! These pops-up are designed to scare us. Some of them will even cause alarming sounds to come out of your speakers. These sounds are designed to raise your heart rate and spook you into calling that number. DON’T!!! All you have to do is close out of the browser and the message and the annoying sounds should go away. Some of these

Some of these pop-ups are a little more malicious and therefore harder to close, and if that is the case we need to open our Task Manager and force the browser to close.

Here is  a list of instructions at the end of this section about how to do that:

Steps Open/Use Task Manger to Close Pesky Pop-Ups

  1.  Press ctrl+alt+delete.
  2.  Open Task Manger
  3.  Right click on the browser that generated the pop-up
  4.  Select the option that reads “End Task” . The pop-up should close and the noises should stop
  5.  (optional): The likely hook of a virus getting on your machine if you close this popup without clicking else is pretty low, but for safe measure use your antivirus software to run a scan on your computer to make sure it is clean.

Don’t feel alone or dumb if this ever happens to you, everyone here at the office has done it at one point or another. Accidents happen!  Even if you do click the pop-up, it doesn’t mean you’re doomed as long as you’re anti-virus works properly and you don’t call any numbers.

What they want you to do is call this number so they can “show” you that your machine has a “virus,” and then will attempt to solicit you into giving them your credit card information so that they can “fix” your computer. It is ALWAYS a scam. Microsoft will NEVER contact you about viruses on your computer.

2. Uninstall McAfee and Norton Antivirus

I am absolutely certain that everyone who has ever used the internet has heard of Norton and McAfee Antivirus software, and I guarantee that those same individuals, at one point or another, have been prompted to download or even offered a free trial version of these two programs. Well, I’m typing before you today to BEG YOU to avoid this software at all cost. These programs are known to be more malicious to your operating system than most of the common viruses out there. They update at inappropriate times, they may cause your operating system to freeze suddenly, and they definitely do not play nice with other applications on your computer. Not only that, but uninstalling these programs is not exactly a

These programs are known to be more malicious to your operating system than most of the common viruses out there. They update at inappropriate times, they may cause your operating system to freeze suddenly, and they definitely do not play nice with other applications on your computer. Not only that, but uninstalling these programs is not exactly a straight forward process; and even after they are uninstalled occasionally little bits of the software are still left behind on your machine and a technician such as myself will have to open the registry and remove the bits and pieces by hand.

*WARNING! Do not! I repeat! DO NOT open the registry to your computer without knowing exactly what you are doing. While the registry is open, one can destroy the computer’s operating system with a couple of mis-clicks of the mouse; thus, causing the user to lose ALL of the data they have stored on their computer. *

In fact, McAfee is so rough on computers that the former CEO, John McAfee, put out a rather comical but extremely inappropriate video about how to uninstall the McAfee Software; and let’s just say, he “disposes” of the computer entirely using a firearm. (As a disclaimer, I would link you guys the YouTube video but as previously stated the video is extremely inappropriate, and does not reflect the opinions, ideals, or beliefs of Guardian Computer in any way, shape, or form.)

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3. Free Antivirus Software We Recommend

bit defender fre

Bit Defender– If you already have Windows 10 installed on your computer, oh boy do I have good news for you! Windows 10 already has a built in Antivirus Software known as Bit Defender. It works really well for users who do what they are supposed to be doing on their computers and not clicking on anything too suspicious.

avast

Avast– I personally used Avast before I upgraded to windows 10. It generated a few more popups than I would like, but those can easily be turned off in its settings. We really want our antivirus software to be “seen and not herd,” if you know what I mean. I only my antivirus software to yell at me if there is a major problem, but then again if there is a major problem with my computer I am probably going to recognize the change in performance of the computer right around the same time that my antivirus software does.

malwarebytes

Malwarebytes– This is a Guardian Computer’s favorite. We use Malwarebytes pretty much every day to clean up computers that are already infected, and its antivirus works well and will not bog down a computer’s performance. The free version of this software performs a thorough scan of your machine should you ever accidently click on the wrong link and is quick to quarantine these bugs from doing any more damage to your machine.

webroot

Well if that is the case then I would have to recommend using Webroot. This is the soft where we put on all our Managed Services machines and it works like a charm. Occasionally, we will have to step in to fix a few bugs that leak through, but since we have started using Webroot I haven’t seen to many major viruses get through; but that does not give our users the go-ahead to freely click around the Internet I’m just pointing out that it has been doing a solid job of protecting our machines! If this sounds like something you would be interested in, please give us a call at the office and one of our Techs would be happy to discuss the inner workings of Webroot in more detail with you over the phone!

Conclusion from a NOLA IT Professional on Internet Safety

No matter what antivirus you are using do not assume you are completely protected out on the Internet. At the end of the day, it is always up to the user to be cautious of the links they are clicking on and the files they are downloading.