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Time to update my 'best practice' security choices.


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#1 D_Blackwell

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Posted 29 September 2014 - 01:23 AM

I have a Dell Studio XPS 9100 built 30 June 2011.  I've no business building my own (ha!) though I'd love to have the time someday.  What I do instead is try to buy invest in value and then protect the heck out of it - getting my return on excessive investment with minimal ownership hassles and maximum lifespan.

 

I feel that I've done very well with this computer.  I update everything all the time:  Windows, browsers (primarily a Firefox user), Adobe, Java (crap I'd rather not have I suspect, but I'm not geeky enough to know what's best so I just stay updated and live with it) . . . .

 

A couple of months ago I was extremely worried about becoming the proud owner of multi-thousand-dollar brick. I was having regular OS crashes on startup or within the first few minutes of startup.  Once I got a clean start, I always ran all day with nary a problem.  Some discussion on that issue can be found here:

http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/t/546263/os-crash-andor-mousekeyboard-freeze-always-within-first-few-minute/

 

Well, I ran every diagnostic and every-everything that I could think of that might sort out what on earth was causing this. This was about 8 - 10 weeks of pure daily hell - so bad that I was often putting the computer to sleep because I was afraid to turn it off.  I probably could have bought a new computer with the value of the time-suck.

 

And then one day the OS crashes on startup just stopped.  I have not had one single glitch of any kind since.  I don't know what I did.  Every single diagnostic came up clean.  I ran every one that I knew and every one that a qualified person suggested.  They all said my machine was awsesome - except it obviously wasn't.  Anyway, the problem is gone, so yay me.

 

My suspicion, which I am not qualified to have, is that maybe a Windows update broke something critical and that a later update fixed it.?

 

Now is an ideal time for me to keep what I have or to make some changes to my 'best practices' for security.  Researching all of  the options makes my head hurt, so I am looking for some suggestions.

 

My Avast Interent Suite expires in about a week.  I use the paid version, and I also use the paid version of Malwarebytes.  Free is nice, but I've no problem putting up the investment of paid versions for crucuial peices of software.  I am protecting valuable hardware, programs, files, client data . . . .

 

I don't like to have and run too many security programs because I don't want to risk introducting conflicts between security programs. I'm happy to run a few, but need to know they will play nice together.

 

I have always been happy with the paid version of Malwarebytes and am happy to keep it.  However, is that still a best choice program or should I consider switching?

 

(I used to keep their Premium On Call Service on retainer at $200 a year.  It was a great value, and though I hardly ever used it, the service was spectacular the couple of times I did use it.  Then they either outsourced it or spun it off or something and it went to s... so I dropped that.  A shame.  The price of having them available 24/7 was good insurance.)

A have always been 'sort of' happy with the paid Avast Internet Security, but never exactly thrilled.  I went to Avast after AVG (paid) went through a period of what I considered far subpar protection and I dumped them.  I think Avast has always done a decent job, but can't say that I'm in love with it in any way.  I've always felt that Avast has blocked malicious email content expertly, but is generally horrible at handling spam (identifying, moving to spam folders, etc.).  My Avast Internet Securtity expires in about a week, so that is the timeline that I am on to making my security upgrades and changes.

 

Is Avast Internet Security a wise choice, or should I be making a better investment?  Suggestions?

 

Should I be running an email specific program?  I never have before, but I do have a lot riding on protecting email (lots of folders documenting client instructions, work change orders; i.e., I have tons of emails that need to be protected).

 

My system backup needs an upgrade.  I use the Windows 7 system image and backup files weekly to a rotating set of external hard drives.  (One kept in a safe deposit box, the other kept on site in a hidden location, which is plugged in weekly, updated, and then the external drives swapped out.  At no time is a backup drive left with the computer.)

 

Backing up sucks though.  The Maxtor software is s... and I'm not thrilled with Windows backup.  Maybe my expectations are unrealistic but should some medium-to-high-end backup software be considered that would make that part of my life easier?

 

All comments and suggestions are welcome.   I'm not geeky enough to make qualified decisions, but am geeky enough to know places I can go to get some solid recommendations when I have to make these kinds of critical changes / choices.

 

Thanks.



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#2 Hippygator

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Posted 29 September 2014 - 02:33 AM

Well Mr. Blackwell I certainly can relate, hee, hee. I've spent it seems like thousands of hours trying to figure things out when they go awry. Many of those hours were unnecessary...if I had just.... I learned the hard way to stay away from too good to be true "We'll be glad to fix it for ya", sites, Conduit virusus, CNet goodies wrapped up in legitimate software, and I'm sure there are a few thousand PUPS if haven't met yet!

I have a Dell Dimension 8200 that has been around since 2002. It has been through the mill! My middle name is not "Crash" for nothing! And through it all it has kept on tickin'! i have managed to get along on free versions of this and that, amoung them Malwarebytes, and Avast which I still use today. I have found them to be decent tools. Also for backup I bought myself a 200gig...whatever a gig is...external drive which stores my myriad of "important epistles" with a program called, "Create Syncrosity" by Sourceforge.

When I look back, I think i have done pretty well keeping "on top" so to speak. There were moments for sure when I had my doubts and there a few million hairs missing from my head...I picked out the dark ones and left the gray ones. I have learned the hard way, when you think yer gettin' along just fine there is always gonna be someone or something out there to step in yer puddle.

Yer doin' a fine job...just keep on keepin' on! :busy:


Edited by Hippygator, 29 September 2014 - 02:38 AM.


#3 quietman7

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Posted 29 September 2014 - 05:39 AM

Choosing a security toolkit with anti-virus, firewall and anti-malware programs is a matter of personal preference, your needs, your technical ability and experience, features offered, user friendliness, ease of updating (and upgrading to new program release), ease of installation/removal, availability of quality/prompt technical support from the vendor and price. Other factors to consider include detection rates and methods, scanning engine effectiveness, how often virus definitions are updated, the amount of resources the program utilizes and how it may affect system performance. A particular anti-virus that works well for one person may not work as well for another.

Everyone's system is different and sometimes you may need to experiment in order to find the combination which works best and is most suitable for your needs. There is no universal "one size fits all" solution that works for everyone.

For more specific information to consider, please read:

My personal choice is ESET NOD32 Anti-Virus if choosing a paid for program as it leaves a small footprint...meaning it is not intrusive and does not utilize a lot of system resources. Emsisoft Anti-Malware is also a good choice if looking for a paid for program.

If you have not done so already, you may want to read: Answers to common security questions - Best Practices for Safe Computing

 

Backing up your data and disk imaging are among the most important maintenance tasks users should perform on a regularly, yet it's one of the most neglected areas.

The widespread emergence of crypto malware (ransomware) has brought attention to the importance of backing up all data on a regular basis. The only reliable way to effectively protect your data and limit the loss with this type of infection is user education and to have an effective backup strategy. A backup strategy is not only effective against ransomware and other harmful malware but also helps with catastrophic scenarios like hard disk failure, power failure and power surges which can damage internal hardware components. In some cases, the system can be rendered unbootable and you may not have access to the computer to back up any data. A computer's hard drive will not last forever and at some point its going to fail and eventually need replacing. Hard disk failure can occur suddenly without warning or it could occur gradually due to failing areas of the disc requiring repeated read attempts before successful access or as a result of bad clusters accumulating over time to the point the drive becomes unusable.

Disk Imaging Software:

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BTW, using Java is an unnecessary security risk...especially using older versions which have vulnerabilities that malicious sites can use to exploit and infect your system.

Although Java is commonly used in business environments and many VPN providers still use it, the average user does not need to install Java software.

I recommend just uninstalling Java if you don't use it.
* How to Completely Remove Java Using JavaRa
* How do I uninstall Java on my Windows machine?
* Information about the Java Uninstall Tool for Windows

If you're going to use Java, many security researchers and computer security organizations caution users to limit their usage and to disable Java Plug-ins or add-ons in your browsers.

If you need Java for a specific Web site, consider adopting a two-browser approach. If you normally browse the Web with Firefox, for example, consider disabling the Java plugin in Firefox, and then using an alternative browser (Chrome, IE9, Safari, etc.) with Java enabled to browse only the site(s) that require(s) it.

Krebs On Security: ...Java

To defend against this and future Java vulnerabilities, consider disabling Java in web browsers until adequate updates are available. As with any software, unnecessary features should be disabled or removed as appropriate for your environment.

US CERT: Disable Java in web browsers

* How to disable Java Plug-ins or add-ons in common web browsers .
* How to turn off Java on your browser


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