Absolute Beginner's Guide to Security, Spam, Spyware & Viruses

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Batten down the hatches! Hackers, spammers and thieves (oh my!) are after you! The mere act of turning on an Internet-connected computer can put you, your family, and your personal finances at risk by exposing you to viruses, scam artists, hackers, identity thieves, and spammers. How do you fight back? Absolute Beginner's Guide to Security, Spam, Spyware and Viruses is your first line of defense.

Clear, easy-to-understand definitions of viruses, spyware, and hackers will help ...

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Batten down the hatches! Hackers, spammers and thieves (oh my!) are after you! The mere act of turning on an Internet-connected computer can put you, your family, and your personal finances at risk by exposing you to viruses, scam artists, hackers, identity thieves, and spammers. How do you fight back? Absolute Beginner's Guide to Security, Spam, Spyware and Viruses is your first line of defense.

Clear, easy-to-understand definitions of viruses, spyware, and hackers will help you understand what you're up against everytime you go online. Then, you'll learn about other threats, such as identity theft, phishing, and other potential dangers you'll face in your everyday computing. Find out how to search out and destroy spyware, malware and other viscious programs that could potentially harm your computer. Then find out how to lock out hackers, spammers, and theives for good.

We'll tell you how to immediately cut the risk of being attacked in half — in less than 10 minutes! Protect your bank accounts, digital photos, digital music collection, masters thesis, and everything you hold near and dear on your computer with the help of the Absolute Beginner's Guide to Security, Spam, Spyware and Viruses.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780789734594
  • Publisher: Que
  • Publication date: 11/9/2005
  • Series: Absolute Beginner's Guide
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Andy Walker is one of North America's top technology journalists. Since 1995, he has written about personal computer technology for dozens of newspapers, magazines, and websites. His personal technology advice column was syndicated across the Southam Newspaper chain and today the body of work is published at Cyberwalker.com where more than 5 million unique visitors read the advice annually. Andy has appeared as a tech expert on hundreds of TV and radio broadcasts and now co-hosts hosted the internationally syndicated TV show Call for Help with Leo Laporte and Amber MacArthur. Andy was born in the United Kingdom, educated and raised in Canada, and now lives in Toronto with a two cats and a really secure personal computer.

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Table of Contents


How This Book Is Organized.

Special Elements Used in this Book.

Reader Competition...of Sorts.


1. Viruses: Attack of the Malicious Programs.

What Is a Computer Virus?

What Is It?

Who Triggers a Computer Virus?

How Does It Spread?

What Damage Can It Do?

Viruses: As Many Kinds As Sniffles in Kindergarten

Macro Viruses

Memory-Resident Viruses

File Infector Viruses

Boot Viruses

Multi-Partite Viruses

Worms: Network-Savvy Viruses

Trojan Horses: Hey Helen, the Achaeans Left Us a Present!

Virus Hoaxes: Fake Viruses that Scare the Heck Out of You

Who Creates Computer Viruses?

What Not to Do!

When Viruses Attack!

Disconnect As Soon As Possible

Virus Infection Found! How to Cleanse Your System

My Antivirus Program Won't Update!

Now I Have Your Attention...

Antivirus Checkup: 10-Minute Tactics

Install Windows Security Updates

Update Your Virus Signatures

Fortify Your Computer: Strong Virus Defense in a Few Hours

Install or Upgrade an Antivirus Program

Scan Your Computer for Viruses

Install Service Pack 2 and Enable Virus Protection

No Worm in My Apple?

Is That a Virus in Your Pocket?

2. Spyware: Overrun by Advertisers, Hijackers, and Opportunists.

What Is Spyware?

What Does Spyware Do and Why Is It Bad?

How Does Spyware Sneak onto My Computer?

Types of Spyware: Snoops, Adware, Cookies, and More

Spyware: I Spy with My Little App

Adware: Attack of the Pop-ups

Snoopware: I Wanna Know What You're Up To!

Browser Hijackers: Turn This Browser Around, We're Going to Cuba.com

Key Loggers: Snooping on Your Typing Skills

Dialers: Dial In, Dial Out, Dial Often

Trojan Horses: Pretty Ponies with Deadly Insides

Cookies: Does My Oreo Have a Tape Recorder in It?

Who Is at Risk?

How Do I Know If I Have Spyware?

Defend Yourself Against Spyware

Spyware Countermeasures: 10-Minute Tactics

Ban All Spies: Strong Spyware Defense in an Afternoon

Run a Full System Scan

Install a Second Anti-spyware Program

Inoculate Your System

Use Firefox

Clean Cookies

Spyware Infection Found! How to Scrub Your System

How to Fix a Browser Hijack

Decimate the Little Suckers with CWShredder

Microsoft Mimics HijackThis: System Explorers

3. Hackers: There's a Man in My Machine.

What Is a Hacker?

Who Are the Hackers?

What Damage Can Hackers Do?

Targets of a Hack Attack

Corporate Networks

Web Servers

Personal Computers

Hacker Motivation: I Think Therefore I Hack

Tools of the Trade: Pass Me a Trojan Horse, Would You?

Firewall: Shut Out the Hackers

Software Firewalls: Programs That Stop Hackers

Windows Firewall: Built-in Defense

Third-Party Software Firewalls

Recommended Firewall Freebies

Hardware Firewalls

Easy Defense with a NAT Firewall

Stateful Inspection: The Meticulous Traffic Cop

How to Detect a Hacker Attack

How to Fix a Hacker Attack

Steps You Can Take Immediately After Being Hacked

Batten down the Hatches-10-Minute Tactics

Turn on Windows Firewall

Activate the Firewall on a Mac OS X System

Wall off the World-Install a Better Firewall in an Afternoon

Install a Two-way Software Firewall

Install a Hardware Firewall

4. Identity Thieves and Phishers: Protect Your Good Name and Bank Account.

What Is Identity Theft?

Techniques Thieves Use to Steal Your Identity

How They Become You: Identity Theft Techniques

Preventative Measures: How to Not Become a Victim

Signs You're a Victim

What to Do If You're an Identity Theft Victim

What Is Phishing?

How Does Phishing Work?

Email Address Spoofing

Link Spoofing

Web Address Spoofing

What Is Pharming?

What Damage Can Be Done By Phishing?

Who Is at Risk? Everyone!

Don't Get Phished: 10-Minute Tactics to Stay Off the Hook

They Won't Ask, You Don't Tell

Use Caution and Cut and Paste

Communicate Securely

Install an Anti-spam Filter

Block Phishing Sites with NetCraft

Carry a Big Spoofstick

Keep Your Antivirus and Anti-Spyware Programs Up-to-Date

Keep Your Computer Software Up-to-Date

Ensure You Are You: Take an Afternoon to Protect Your Identity

Check Your Credit Reports

Shred It Before You Chuck It

Read Your Statements

5. Spam: Unwanted Email from Hell.

What Is Spam?

Why Does Spam Keep Coming?

Why Doesn't Someone Stop the Spammers?

How Do Spammers Get My Email Address?

Website Harvesting

Dictionary Spamming

Commercial Email Lists

Newsgroups, Discussion Forums, and Interactive Websites

Contests and Other Free Offerings

Email Forwarding

The Damage Spam Can Do

Reduce the Flow-10-Minute Tactics to Reduce Spam

Don't Respond

Don't Post Your Email Address on the Web

Webmasters Shouldn't Use mailto

Turn Off Image Display in Email Programs

Turn On Junk Mail Filtering

Kill More Spam-In an Afternoon

Install an Anti-spam Program

Fight Back!

6. Wireless Network Snoops: Lock Down Your Wi-Fi Network.

What Is a Wireless Home Network?

What Damage Can a Wireless Network Snoop Dish Out?

Who Are the Snoopers?


Bandwidth Bandits

Wireless Hackers

Your Wi-Fi Network Is Full of Holes!

How to Access Your Router Set-up

First Line of Defense: Secure Your Wi-Fi Network

Turn On WEP

Turn On WPA

MAC Address Filtering: Keep Out the Scottish

Detecting a Visit from a Wireless Snoop

I'm Under Attack! What to Do If You Discover a Wireless Network Snoop

Turn Off Wireless Access

Activate Security Measures

Assess the Damage

Wireless Security Workup: Quick Tactics and Some That Take a Little More Time

10-Minute Tactic: Change the Router's User ID and Password

10-Minute Tactic: Change Your Default SSID

10-Minute Tactic: Turn On the Windows Firewall

10-Minute Tactic: Turn Off UpnP

10-Minute Tactic: Turn Off Your Router When Not in Use

Time Intensive Tactic: Be Careful with File Sharing

7. Privacy Snoops: Cover Your Tracks and Your Reputation.

Why Your Privacy Is Important

What You Leave Behind on Your Computer

Web Browser


Movies and Audio Players


Chat Programs

Who Are the Privacy Snoops?

The Consequences of Being Caught

Emergency Tactics-I Am Being Snooped On!


Limited Users

Guest Accounts

How to Create PC Privacy

Obscure Your Trail-In About 10 Minutes

Microsoft Internet Explorer

Mozilla Firefox

Cover Your Tracks-In an Afternoon

Clean Multimedia Players

Windows Media Player 10

Real Player 10

Protect Your Email

Turn Off Saved Sent Items

Empty Deleted Items Folder

Don't Leave Email on the Server

Wash Windows

Scrub Microsoft Office

Deleted Files Are Not Gone

Turn Off Chat Logs

Clean Restore Points


8. Let's Smash-Proof Windows: Tweak Windows XP Nice and Tight.

If Windows XP Is a Dike, You're a Little Dutch Boy

Step 1: Trash Unnecessary Programs

Step 2: Install Firefox

Step 3: Install Antivirus Software and Scan for Viruses

Step 4: Install Anti-Spyware Software and Scan for Spyware

Step 5: Block Out the Bad Guys and Install a Firewall

Step 6: Install and Configure Microsoft Updates and Service Pack 2

Step 7: Install Netcraft's Anti-Phishing Toolbar

Step 8: Protect Yourself from Spam

Step 9: Managing Your File Sharing Security

9. Starting from the Beginning: Wiping a Hard Drive and Rebuilding from the Ground Up.

Light the Fuse and Stand Back

Let's Get Started

XP Installation CD or System Recovery Disk

Windows SP2: The Mother of All Service Packs

Collect Your Drivers

Installation CDs for Your Programs

Internet Service Software and Settings

Security Programs

Step 1: Download Drivers and Software You Need for the Re-install

Got a Recovery CD? That's Good News!

Retail Copy of Windows XP? There's Some Work to Do

Step 2: Back Up!


Outlook Express

My Documents

IE Favorites and Cookies

Firefox Favorites

Saved Games

Pictures, Music, and Videos

Microsoft Office 2003 Settings

Windows Media Player

Other Odds and Ends

Step 3: Pull the Plug on the Network

Step 4: Wipe Away Windows

Using a System Recovery CD

Using a Windows XP Install CD

Step 5: Re-install Windows

Step 6: Re-install Your Drivers

Step 7: Install Protection Against Malware

Install an Antivirus Program

Install an Anti-spyware Program

Install a Firewall

Step 8a: Install Windows XP Service Pack 2 (from CD)

Step 8b: Install SP2 from the Internet

Step 9: Configure Your Security Settings

Step 10: Install Firefox

Step 11: Configure Your Networking

Home Network

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)

Cable Internet


Step 12: Update Windows with All Recent Security Patches

Step 13: Update All of Your Security Programs and Security Signatures

Step 14: Activate Windows

Step 15: Re-install Your Programs

Step 16: Other Things You Can Do

10. Ongoing Maintenance: Fend Off Future Threats!

Note to Self: Keep Computer Secure

Daily Routines: Walk the Dog, Feed the Kids, and Secure the Computer

Update Your Antivirus and Anti-Spyware Signatures

Update AVG Signatures

Update Microsoft AntiSpyware

Update Spybot Search & Destroy

Weekly Routines: How to Never Be Bored on Saturday Morning

Scan for Viruses and Spyware

Check for Firefox Updates

Monthly Routines: Clean the Garage, Trim the Hedge, and Update Windows

Windows Updates

Inspect Other Computers

Router Firmware Updates

Patch Microsoft Office

Software Updates

Bathe Once a Year Whether You Need It and Reformat and Re-install, Too

Wipe Your Hard Drive and Re-install Windows


11. Selecting Software: Steals, Deals, and Software Duds.

Security Software: Nothing in Life Is Free, Except Software

Payware: Software You Pay Hard-Earned Cash For

Freeware: Don't Pay a Cent Software

Weirdware: When It's Not Payware or Freeware

Gimpware: Free Software, but Not All the Bits Work

Trialware: It's Free, Until It's Not

Shareware: I Trust You to Pay Me

What Should I Pay for My Security Toolbox?

Choosing the Right Security Software





12. Tools of the Trade: Security Products You Should Own.

Which Security Software Is Right for You?

Antivirus Programs









A. Glossary.


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Introduction: Ignore This Book at Your Own Peril!





War drivers.



Salad cream.

And identity thieves.

These are eight good reasons why you should buy this book, plus one arbitrary reference to a British salad condiment from Heinz that I love, just to keep the list interesting.

If you run Windows XP, the most insecure computer operating system ever invented, these eight nasty threats will rob you blind and torment you within an inch of your digital life and make your glorious and shiny minivan existence starkly miserable and mud splattered.

These computer nasties are a big fat plague. Good thing salad cream was invented.

And the worst of it is that very few computer owners know how bad it really is. No salad cream jokes here. In all seriousness, the state of computer security today is just ugly.

Here's the good news, however. I can help. And not only will I help, but I'll do it without forcing you to spend much more money than you already have spent on your computer. Almost everything I'll teach you in this book is done using mostly free software, easy-to-understand techniques, and analogies that often use small furry, chittering creatures.

Not convinced? Okay, put this book down if you haven't bought it already, go home, download the free Microsoft AntiSpyware from http://www.microsoft.com/spyware/, and run it on your computer. If you don't find at least one nasty program that shouldn't be on your computer, come back and buy Danielle Steele's latest novel over in the romance section because you don't need my help.

In this book, I'll show you how to cleanse your computer, halt further infections, do major damage control, and lock down the most insecure computer operating system you have ever seen. I know I said that earlier, but XP is just awful. You'll also enjoy 1,329 other really good bits of information that will be equally compelling.

When you're done with this book, you'll want to dance until you wear out your pants. And in fact I encourage it often in these pages. Then you'll want to go help your grandma because you'll know that if you're at risk, she's in deep grandma trouble with her computer. Then I want you to tell your neighbors and help them. And become the gal or guy who everyone goes to for help on home computer security. And here's the kicker: You don't even have to be a geek. Nope, you can continue to dress fashionably; eat good, wholesome food; and hold eye contact with handsome men and pretty women in elevators. Geeks are actually cool. But you don't have to become one to learn about personal computer security.

All I ask is that you read one chapter at a time. Start with the first seven, which detail the key threats you'll face in computer security. I'll scare the socks off you and then make it all better with easy-to-understand, geek-free help.

How This Book Is Organized

Chapter 1—Viruses: Attack of the Malicious Programs

In this first and vividly exciting chapter, I tell you what viruses are, why they are a problem, and how to get rid of them. Plus learn secrets, such as the real reason people write them in the first place.

Chapter 2—Spyware: Overrun by Advertisers, Hijackers, and Opportunists

This is a modern day computer pandemic. Your computer is probably rife with this malware. Bad companies are making money with it learning what you do on your computer. At the same time, spyware is also slowing your computer down. Most people experience a 30%–50% performance boost when they get rid of spyware for the first time. How's that for an upsell?

Chapter 3—Hackers: There's a Man in My Machine

Who are these people? Why do they want to get on to your computer? I tell you why and then show you how to shut them out. And I make a good joke about cheese in this chapter.

Chapter 4—Identity Thieves and Phishers: Protect Your Good Name and Bank Account

These people are going to suck your bank account dry. And they trick you into helping them do it. I show you how to stop them.

Chapter 5—Spam: Unwanted Email from Hell

Junk mail is a deluge, but like a Shop Vac on spilled ketchup, it's easy to clean up. I'll show you how in only a few pages.

Chapter 6—Wireless Network Snoops: Lock Down Your Wi-Fi Network

Let's pretend you're free of all the other nasties in this book, but I bet if you have a wireless home network, your neighbors are using your Internet connection and maybe even snooping in places they shouldn't be inside your computer. I help you stop them.

Chapter 7—Privacy Snoops: Cover Your Tracks and Your Reputation

Do you surf places on the Internet that are naughty? Do you plan birthday presents for nice people in your home? Do you keep exciting secrets on your computer? Keep the snoops out of your personal business. I'll show you how.

Chapter 8—Let's Smash-Proof Windows: Tweak Windows XP Nice and Tight

In the second part of this book, I'll walk you through how to lock down Windows XP so tight that you'll think it's the most secure operating system ever. All with freebie software!

Chapter 9—Starting from the Beginning: Wiping a Hard Drive and Rebuilding from the Ground Up

And if you are really ambitious, I'll also show you how to wipe your computer clean and start fresh (it's like gallivanting among tulips the first time you do it) and then I'll show you how to lock down Windows XP so it's more secure than a bucket of Brussels sprouts at a birthday party.

Chapter 10—Ongoing Maintenance: Fend Off Future Threats!

Of course it's fine to be safe now, but what about tomorrow and the next day? Well, clever me, I've thought of that. I show you how to keep your computer secure tomorrow, next week, next month, but not next year because I want to sell you another book.

Chapter 11—Selecting Software: Steals, Deals, and Software Duds

Next, I'll go over what the story is with lots of different security software. Do you have to buy it or can you get it all free?

Chapter 12—Tools of the Trade: Security Products You Should Own

And in the final chapter I'll tell you what software is really good and where to get it.


Also, my talented assistant Sarah Hammond has written the best and most exciting glossary you have ever read. It's really scintillating and has been nominated for glossary of the year.

Special Elements Used in this Book

You'll also see a lot of help in the margins of this book. Here's how it looks and what it means.

Note - This is stuff that I figured I should tell you when it popped in my head. Notes aren't essential reading, but I urge you not to skip them as you'll learn a lot of extra stuff here that you might not find elsewhere.

Tip - These succulent bits of info should help you with odd problems or give you insight into issues that are confusing. Don't skip these! Here, you'll find faster ways to accomplish tasks, insider tidbits, and expert tips I've accumulated along the way.

Caution - These blurbs keep you out of trouble. I hope. If you don't read these, you're asking for trouble. Security is risky business. I've done my best to point out common pitfalls, gotchas, and other assorted nasties.

Sidebars -

Occasionally, I've added some additional information that's ancillary to the main topic, but still worth reading. Think of these as important stuff that didn't fit anywhere within the confines of the chapter you're reading, but are too important to skip.

Reader Competition...of Sorts

If you are one of the first 10 people to tell me by email what page the Monica Lewinsky reference is on and whether it's a note, tip, or caution, I'll send you a Cyberwalker T-shirt or a Cyberwalker thong—your choice. Both are nice and if you don't believe me, ask Rick Kughen, my editor at Que. He wears his fishing. Pictures (of the garments, not Rick) are on http://www.cyberwalker.com.

When you email me at monica@cyberwalker.com, include the answer and your full name, and put either thong or shirt in the subject line. Size (of the thong or T-shirt) is also helpful.

Finally, if you want to contact me and say nice things, tell me about how you saved your grandma with advice from this book, or send me chocolate cake (which I also love), email me at andy@cyberwalker.com.

And if you've read this far, go buy this book. I am almost out of salad cream.

© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2007

    A reviewer

    I recently reviewed the Absolute Beginner¿s Guide to Security, Spam, Spyware & Viruses by Andy Walker and found it to be well-written, nicely organized, and easy to follow. Although I have been in the Information Security business for many years, there is always something more to learn. This book is oriented more toward personal use computers than for corporate implementations. But it is good to know what your Security Administrators have, are faced with and have in order to do to secure Corporate information and protect its customers 'sometimes even from themselves'. What Andy covers is what everyone should understand about who 'generically identified', what¿s out there, what they¿re up to, and most important, what you can do about it. Some of the features that I liked were: the Tips, Sidebars, and Notes. Another feature that I have not seen too often is the At-A-Glance Table of Contents. What I liked about this abbreviated TOC was that I could just focus on these topics 'Basics, Strategies, and Tools' and have a fairly secure system, provided the reader actually implements his advice. The Tips, Sidebars, and Notes also allow the reader to skim the material and still end up with a more secure computer. The best feature is his easy to implement advice, if nothing else go to the end of each chapter and do ¿The Absolute Minimum.¿ I would recommend this book to those wanting a good introduction to the most common security issues today '2005,6' and what can be done to better secure your personal computer from these threats.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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