Web and Computer Security


Well, if that had aid to me by my father when I was two years ld have understood. But when today, my computer tells me that when I am 34, I wonder why I spent $1500 on my computer hardware and software to enjoy the (unrealized) benefits of this great and revolutionary information technology.

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Today’s cyberspace is hazardous. None of today’s PC users can claim that they never had a computer virus or a PC security breach. According to analysts, if you count today’s number of PC users worldwide, they will soon be 1 billion by 2010. When I see all the computer viruses, infections, trojans, and whatnot around me and compare it with the 1 billion innocent computer users worldwide, I feel sorry for those billion users and myself. But again, as a common user myself, I must admit it was not all doomsday for the whole industry since 1987 when I started to use computers. As a responsible member of this great IT revolution, I must share some of the best tips and tricks I learned to make the minimum room for productivity on my computer.

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Please note this is a tutorial for someone with basic computer usage know-how. I would recommend asking for a local expert’s help before trying anything mentioned in this tutorial for newbies. In that case, make room for payment from a deep pocket. For your convenience, print this tutorial for step-by-step instructions.

Whenever my computer is infected, I act on any of the following options;

1. FORMAT HARD DISK: I back up all of my data on a CD-Writer if it is still accessible. And then format the whole hard disk drive and re-install each application

2. USE SOFTWARE: I exhaust all antivirus and other software options. This is usually my priority compared to formatting the computer’s hard disk drives.

Now, let me explain both options in detail;

PRE-REQUISITES: Make sure you have a CD-Drive (Writer), empty writable CDs, and Windows OS CD (bootable) that contains files such as Format.exe, Scandisk.exe, FDisk.exe, and Attrib.exe files. Microsoft Office CD, Antivirus CD, GoldenHawk CD Writing Software in DOS (copy2cd.exe and cdtools.exe), Serial Numbers of your License, Driver CDs of Motherboard, VGA, Network, Sound and Modem devices. Optionally, download (using http://www.download.com or http://www.tucows.com) this software from any Internet Café when your computer is inaccessible and save it on a CD so that you can use it anytime for security purposes;

  • Golden Hawk DOS-based CD Writing Software
  • HiTech Fireman Windows-based CD Writing Software.
  • Driver Genius Pro
  • Partition Magic
  • AVG AntiVirus

SpywareBlaster & SpywareGuard

  • Spybot Search & Destroy
  • Ad-Aware
  • IE-SpyAd
  • ZoneAlarm
  • HiJackThis & CWShredder

I have intentionally avoided many commercially good and more friendly software mentions here as I wanted everything to do FREE without additional costs apart from the usual OS licenses. You can research Google or Yahoo search engines to find further information about such commercial software and their availability/pricing for your convenience.


I know it is a painful and surgical type of solution. Still, it is sometimes the ONLY solution left after exhausting our efforts to revive our computer machine after a virus attack. Follow this procedure;

Booting Up: Try booting your computer normally first and see if you can log in easily. If you can’t, or your computer hangs up, try holding the F8 key when starting Windows, and you will get the Safe Mode. Even if you don’t get the Safe Mode, don’t worry.

Power up your computer and press the DEL key or F2 key to log in to your CMOS. In CMOS, go to Boot Preferences and make CD Drive as the boot drive as your first boot drive and change the hard disk drive as the second boot drive. If you don’t see your CD Drive in the boot-up options, your CD Drive is not properly installed. Check the connectors or ask your CD Drive provider for instructions to install the CD Drive. When your CD Drive is ready, insert your Windows OS CD into the CD Drive and restart your computer machine. When prompted, select “Boot from CD with CD Option.” When you get the prompt, Notice the CD Drive letter allocated to your CD Drive when it installed the CD Driver. It is usually D: drive or the last drive letter depending on the number of your partitions. Note it down as it is the actual drive letter where you will have to type a DOS command like:


It would help if you now ran all software utilities such as Format, Scandisk, FDisk, or Windows Installation Setup.exe files. Make sure they exist by typing a DOS command dir at the CD drive letter. If you don’t find it with this simple directory command, use dir/s filename to search the file. For example, to explore the fdisk.exe file, type dir/s fdisk.exe.

BACKING UP YOUR DATA: Before formatting your hard disk drive, please make sure you have the proper backup of your critical data files such as Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc., files on a CD or any other media for backup that you have access to. In this tutorial, we assume you have a CD-Writer installed for taking backups on Writeable CDs. Their capacity is usually 700MB or less. Here, you should seriously consider using Zipping software like WinZip or WinRAR.

VIA WINDOWS: If you can log in to your Windows OS, you should run the CD-Writer software, such as HTech Fireman, to back up all of your data on an empty CD. If you don’t know how to do it, read their user manual for a detailed instruction set. If you can’t access your Windows OS, read on.

VIA DOS: Some files you wish to make the backup may be hidden. To un-hide them, use attrib *.* +r +s +h.

Use the software from the Golden Hawks file named copy2cd.exe to back up your data files or directories on a writeable CD. Before using this command, make sure you are in an appropriate path on the computer, such as E:/ where the actual file copy2cd.exe file resides;

Copy2cd c:data*.* f:

Here we assumed that f: is a CD-Writer drive. Now, repeat the same for all of your files to back up. When finished, run the cdtools.exe command, i.e., cd tools f: finish by selecting “Disc Finalization.”

If you can’t back up your data using the abovementioned procedure, either ask for an outside expert’s help personally or via the Internet. If all fails, forget your data forever and install a new OS, as mentioned in this tutorial.

Backing up Your Drivers: An interesting tool to mention here is software that automatically backs up all of your drivers of CD, modem, sound card, VGA, USB, printer, or just about anything currently installed on your system. But this software works only in an operational Windows OS, not DOS. It is a good and time-saving practice to keep a backup of your drivers on a CD by using such software. Its name is Driver Genius Pro, and it is commercial software, not freeware.

  • technical help desk
  • the helps program
  • help help help help

USING FDISK: You may skip this option and go straight to the Formatting Hard Disk option if you wish to use other useful partitions that may contain your data. Before going ahead with this option, ensure no useful data is left on your computer to be backed up. This option will delete all of the computer partitions and create new ones.

i) Boot up your computer using Windows OS CD.

ii) Run this command

iii) Press option 3 to delete all current partitions.

iv) To create a new partition, select option one and select Y to answer the program’s maximum size question.

v) Next, select option 2

vi) Press the Esc key to quit and restart your computer to

See the URL [http://www.compguystechweb.com/troubleshooting/fdisk/fdisk_scr.html] for detailed instructions along with screenshots. Now that you have created the primary partition, you can continue to format the newly created partition. There is a very user-friendly but commercial software called Partition Magic by PowerQuest to easily manage your partitions after installing Windows.


FORMATTING HARD DISK: Now that you have created new partitions, It is time to format them to start installing Windows. This is how you make your C: drive usable by your Windows OS for installation. Boot up your computer with Windows CD and type the format c: command at the prompt. When prompted for maximum size, press YES. After processing, you will receive a successful report about the C: drive formatting. Select your new drive name and press ENTER to finish.

INSTALLING WINDOWS: Microsoft has made it easy for a newbie to install a new OS on a newly formatted partition. It is all wizard-based; you must click NEXT whenever you ask a question. Boot up your computer from the Windows CD and select Start with CD Option. When on the DOS prompt, change to the CD Drive it created, usually d: if you have only one partition, C. Now type the command setup.exe to start the Windows installation process.

During installation, ensure you properly name your PC per your preferences and select your regions and Time zone. When finished, the computer will reboot, and during the next reboot, it may ask for some drivers of your Sound Card, VGA, Network, or other devices attached. Provide the requisite driver CDs and locate the paths of the appropriate drivers. If unsure, leave it like that and press NEXT to ignore. When your Windows installation is complete, you can install Microsoft Office, set up an internet connection, and start using it as normally as you would. As mentioned in the next section, Please install all the security software, such as antivirus, anti-spyware, adware, and other software.


Installing Antivirus: Download free AVG Antivirus software and install it. Please make sure you get its free key from their website by registering. This software is not auto-updated for critical viruses; you will have to pay for an auto-update version. If you wish to pay, we would recommend the world’s most popular brands, Symantec, McAfee, and Trend Micros, instead. No matter what Antivirus software you install, enable its Auto-Protect feature to protect your computer’s resources and incoming or outgoing emails from any virus attack. Some software even allows you to set up silent detection and destruction without disturbing your work. Further, they are auto-updated via the internet at the regular interval you set up. Hence, you can rest assured that your software will automatically download the updated version whenever a security threat is spread worldwide and install its defense on your computer.

BROWSER SECURITY: To set up your browser (Internet Explorer on Windows) for maximum security against the usual threats, follow this procedure;

i) Start up your browser

ii) Go to IE > Tools > Windows Update > Product Updates and select Security Updates to be automatically updated. Microsoft occasionally releases patches and security patches to ensure your system’s security is up-to-date.

iii) go to Internet Options/Security/Internet, press ‘default level’, then OK. Now press “Custom Level.” In the ActiveX section, set the first two options (“Download signed and unsigned ActiveX controls) to ‘prompt’ and ‘Initialize and Script ActiveX controls not marked as safe” to ‘disable.’ Now, you will be asked whether you want ActiveX objects to be executed and whether you want the software to be installed. Sites you know are sure above suspicion can be moved to the Trusted Zone in Internet Option/security.

If you use another browser such as Firefox or Netscape, see their documentation on securely setting it up against any such internet threats.

Installing Anti-Spyware: Spyware, adware, browser hijackers, and dialers are some of the fastest-growing threats on the Internet today. By simply browsing a web page, your computer may become a victim. You can effectively install SpywareBlaster and SpywareGuard to guard your computer against such internet threats.

It includes a Fast Real-Time Scanning engine for known spyware, heuristic/generic detection capabilities to catch new/mutated spyware and Download Protection, and Browser Hijacking Protection in real-time.

Download the software (free) from their website and install it on your system. Ensure you download its latest update to enable its Auto-Update feature to be updated automatically in the background. When you are ready, run the software to check the spyware on your computer. When spyware is found, it reports accordingly. Press “Select all,” then press the option “Kill all checked.” Although it won’t protect you from 100% spyware, it is a critical extra layer of protection.

Next, install another software that is called Spybot Search & Destroys. It works exactly like SpywareBlaster, but it never hurts to have a double layer of spyware detection along with Spybot R&D.

Installing Anti-Adware: Adware is a common term used to describe potentially dangerous websites and scripts that do data-mining, aggressive advertising, Parasites, Scumware, selected traditional Trojans, Dialers, Malware, Browser hijackers, and tracking components. A perfect software called Ad-Aware is available to scan and remove such nuisances from your system.

To start using it, visit the Lavasoft USA website and download its free non-commercial version of Ad-Aware Personal Edition. Run its setup program and install it. When prompted, ask it to scan your computer. If there is any adware found, it is detected and removed automatically by Ad-Aware. Run this software weekly or daily, if possible, to keep your system clean.

In addition to the Ad-Aware, Internet Explorer has a convenient tool that allows you to block specific sites that may carry well-known advertisers, marketers, and crapware pushers to the Restricted Sites Zone. It would take years if you had to input 50000+ of such sites manually. Luckily, there is software that does it all automatically, called IE-SPYAD. Once you merge this list of sites and domains into the Registry, the websites for these companies will not be able to use cookies, ActiveX controls, Java applets, or scripting to compromise your privacy or your PC while you surf the Net. Nor will they be able to use your browser to push unwanted pop-ups, cookies, or auto-installing programs on your PC. It is not an ad blocker. It will stop top unwanted crapware from being installed behind your back via “drive-by-downloads”; prevent the hijacking of your home page.

This Restricted sites list is based in part on info from discussions in the SpywareInfo Forums and other forums that specialize in crapware removal major crapware reference sites: do desk, cexx.org, Kephyr.com, PestPatrol, and SpywareGuide.

Download it from their website and run its install.bat file to start using it. Make sure you run its update as well soon after its installation.

INSTALLING FIREWALL: A firewall software acts as a defense shield against hackers, intruders and blocks access attempts to your computer. ZoneAlarm is a professional firewall software that automatically works in stealth mode and makes your computer invisible to anyone on the Internet.

Download it from the ZoneLabs website and run its setup for installation. I recommend using its Express Settings, which automatically configures your most commonly used software like browser, chat messengers, and FTP to access the internet while blocking every other internet traffic in real-time. If any software or service tries to upload or download any data, it pops up an alert whereby you can allow or disallow such internet traffic.

Computer Slow Down: It is widespread to see many complaints about their computer slow-down. The fastest and easiest cure is using Windows’ built-in Defragmenter utility that you can find in Startà Programs à Accessories à System Utilities à Disk Defragmenter, and run through defragmentation. It will take a while before it ends.

If your system’s performance does not improve after running the defragmentation utility, consider scanning your computer via a software utility called HiJackThis, which you can download and install on your system. Use this tool carefully, as it is intended for advanced users only. HijackThis is a tool that lists all installed browser add-ons, buttons, and startup items and allows you to inspect and optionally remove selected items. The program can backup your original settings and ignore selected items. Additional features include a simple list of all startup items, a default start page, online updates, and more.

CWShredder is a utility for removing CoolWebSearch (aka CoolWwwSearch, YouFindAll, White-Pages. ws, and a dozen other names). This tool will find and destroy all traces of the CoolWebSearch (CWS) hijacker on your system, including redirections, IE slowdowns, start page changes, an un-authorized addition of sites in IE Trusted Zone, and blocking access to IE options or setup.

Download CWShredder from their official website only as there is a similar named virus/trojan on the loose at various websites you may accidentally download and install, hence becoming more infected than cured. When installed successfully, run the software to scan your local machine. Select the fix button & it will get rid of everything related to CoolWebSearch. Close ALL other programs & windows, including IE, before running CWShredder. Reboot after doing this.

I know there is still a lot left, but I wanted to keep this tutorial as brief as possible. Hence I covered only the critical elements here. I am sure you will have fewer breakdowns (if not ZERO0 and more productive hours on your computer. I recommend setting up all the software’s auto-update and auto-check options to free your time for more productive things than just playing hide and seek with spyware, adware, or viruses. Happy and safe computing!