Sunday, January 15, 2012

Protect your PC from online threats and viruses

Its amazes me how many of my friends and family members get their computers infected and not know how to deal with it. I think for the average American they are in the same boat. Most do not know what to do or how to prevent any type of infection and how to deal with it. At best the majority of people will have an Anti Virus program installed but not know how to effectively use it or they may not even update it!

So today I'm going to help you guys out with a free Anti Virus I have been a fan of for a long time and I will help you use it and give you tips on how to deal with infections :)

What to do first

Make sure you have what it takes to run Avast! Chances are if you PC was made in the last 10 years then you can run Avast. But here are the specs straight from their website:

Operating Systems Supported

  • Windows 7 (any Edition, 32-bit or 64-bit)
  • Windows Vista (any Edition excl. Starter Edition, 32-bit or 64-bit)
  • Windows XP Service Pack 2 or higher (any Edition, 32-bit or 64-bit)
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional Service Pack 4

Minimum Hardware Requirements

  • Pentium 3 Processor
  • 128 MB RAM
  • 250 MB of free hard disk space
 Next thing to do

Get an Anti Virus program! There are many free great ones but a lot of them offer minimal protection and have needed features locked out unless you buy the full program. So I will be recommending an excellent product by the guys and gals from Avast!

Download Avast Free ANTIVIRUS from here and install it to your PC. It is very straight forward and easy to set up. Just read the onscreen commands and you will be up and running in no time. During the instillation progress it will do a brief scan of you system to check for infections.

After you install it its time to open the program and learn it. As you can see if you go to the Summary tab and select current it will tell you you have 30 days to register. Registering is free and you keep the Avast Free Antivirus for free forever. So I recommend doing it. You can even use a fake email if you wish.

What is Avast?

Avast is a company founded in 1988 and is based in Prague, Czech Republic a little less then 200 employees that today now has almost 200,000,000 registered users. You read that right, almost 200 "million" people world wide. 

What does Avast! Free Antivirus offer?

 A lot actually. It is pretty impressive considering its a free program. Here is what you get:

Antivirus and anti-spyware engine Improved
Innovative scanning engine protects against viruses, spyware, and other malicious agents.
Real-time anti-rootkit protection
Prevents stealth malware (‘rootkits’) that, when loaded by the computer’s OS, are invisible to ordinary scanners.
avast! CommunityIQ
Our technology uses a global network of sensors to provide us with data taken (anonymously) from the actual web-browsing experiences of an opt-in group of avast! users. This info is then used to protect all avast! users with the most up-to-date information on viruses and infected websites. Because of avast! CommunityIQ, avast! has discovered 74 895 infected websites and protected 122 464 309 people from visiting them in the last 30 days.
Boot-time scanner Improved
Scans your computer for infections before the OS can start to activate any viruses beneath it (now applies to Windows 7 and Windows Vista).
Intelligent Scanner
Reduces the number of required file scans up to 80% through a white list of safe applications. Files identified as safe are not rescanned unless they change.
Silent/Gaming Mode
Automatically detects full-screen applications and disables pop-ups and other notifications without compromising security.
Green computing
Leaves a minimal “footprint” due to its efficient and effective technology.
File System Shield
Real-time scanning of opened/executed files.
Mail Shield
Scans all incoming/outgoing email for malware (a special plug-in is used for MS Outlook).
Web Shield Improved
Scans all visited web pages, downloaded files, and java scripts. Thanks to the intelligent stream scanning feature, the Web Shield doesn’t slow your web browsing.
P2P Shield/IM Shield
Checks files downloaded via P2P programs and while using IM or “chat” programs.
Network Shield
Protects against network-based viruses with two main components: a URL blocker for malicious URLs, and a lightweight intrusion-detection system.
Script Shield Improved
Detects malicious scripts hidden in web pages and prevents them from hijacking and potentially damaging your computer.
Behavior Shield Improved
Stops ‘zero-day’ threats and unknown malware before virus definitions have been obtained.
64-bit support New
Supports the 64-bit architecture platforms of Windows 7 and Windows Vista.
Heuristics engine
Proactively finds malware undetectable with normal definitions and virus signatures.
Code emulator
Uses dynamic translation (a method much faster than traditional emulation) for both generic unpacking and within the heuristics engine.
Automatic processing
Infected files are processed automatically, without requiring user instructions.
Smart virus definition updates
Incremental updating minimizes the size of regular update files.
Fast application of updates
New format for the virus definition file means faster updates and reduces demand on CPU/memory, for uninterrupted computing.
Multi-threaded scanning optimization
Allows the splitting of large files between cores, which accelerates the scanning process on new multi-core CPUs and makes avast! run even faster.
Wake-up/Scheduled scanning
Schedule scanning at night or whenever you don’t need to use your PC.
Nifty is it not?  

Some of the more interesting features in Avast! Free Antivirus

You also get a "WebRep" feature that you can install that works with Internet Explorer or FireFox. It takes the feedback from other Avast users and gives websites a rating to let you know if its bad or good and the type of content on the website such as if a website has porn or piracy. 

Another feature is "Sandbox" and it is maybe one of the best features. When ever you try to run or install a program that Avast deems to be unsafe or potentially unsafe, it will give you the option to install/run it in Sandbox mode. It creates a virtual environment for you to use the program in that is blocked off from your computer in case it is a malicious program or virus that tries to attack your system or steal information. Programs that run in sandbox will have a red border to let you know. You can run programs in sandbox whenever you want either for that single session or by default whenever you run it. You can disable sandbox for any program you want whenever you want. 

 You are now protected! But you are not done yet!

Now that your AV is up and running nicely its time to further protect yourself. I know what you're thinking, "isn't this enough?" Well..yes and no. Yes you can go about your lurking of the web but I highly recommend you take some time to fully protect yourself. Better safe then sorry right?

Supplemental protections

After you are set with Avast you need to head out and download Malwarebytes and install it. The free version does not have any active protection like Avast does, so it will not conflict with each other. 
Malwarebytes offers many great features and is popular when removing many nasty infections. It is also know to be able to still function when the infection has prevented other antivirus from working properly. It is great to use to clean up any left overs your main AV didn't catch.

In the free version you will not be able to flash scan. But do not worry, I don't recommend these fast scans. Its always best to to do full system scans to get those hard to find infections. Though it will take longer to complete.

OK, I'm all set. I have Avast and Malwarebytes, what now?

Now just make sure you scan often and update daily. Just go to settings and look for update and scan settings to set up a time to check for updates and a time to scan. Usually by default most programs will update on its own. But make sure!

One of the worst things you can do is have a AV and not update it! 


Well, first stay calm. Assuming you cant get Internet or you are reading this right now while infected, this is what you do:

  • Restart your computer. When its turning back on press F8 repeatedly to get this screen pictured above. It may seem a little different to some users.
  • Using the arrow key select safe mode with networking if you need to look up anything to help you in fixing your computer. Or just select safe mode. Assuming that you are reading this, I take it you don't know how to use command prompt. So don't select it unless told to do it otherwise in any removal methods you see online.
  • Wait for it load. Once your at your desk top it will look weird to you, this is normal. Open up your AV and start a scan. Then open up any other scanners you have and run them. In this case it will be Avast and Malwarebytes.
  • While it is scanning I suggest doing something productive. The scan may take a while. Go watch TV or read a book. If you have an alternate means to get online, do it and read up anything pertaining to your problem and how to deal with it. 
  • When the scans are complete look at what they found. Remove them. It will ask to restart to finish the removal, do not restart yet, make sure all your scans are done and that you picked the remove option for each. Then restart the computer normally. 
  • Redo your scans. 
  • To be extra safe, it would be wise that once you restart normally, to go into Avast and schedule a boot time scan. It will scan everything on your system before anything, including viruses, get a chance to load. This however can take a while depending on certain factors. Alternatively you can schedule this the first time you go into safe mode, restart, let it scan during boot up, boot normally and then do your main scans with Avast and Malwarebytes.
That's it. Hopefully you are better protected now and can rest easy while surfing the net for cat pictures lol. If you find that you like these two programs please support them by purchasing the software. Malwarebytes has a lot of nice features and active protections to safeguard your online activities. Avasts PRO AV also includes many nice features so check it out also. And if you want the best package take a look at Avast Internet Security with included firewall. 


  • UPDATE. Please make sure you update daily or have it to where it updates on its own. You are really hurting yourself if you do not update often.
  • If you do not want to scan yourself, set it up to where it does it for you at specified times. Daily scanning is not needed but please do it at least once a week.
  • Use common sense. This is by far the most important thing. Just be careful when doing things online. Do not download anything that you do not download anything you do not know, do not install anything you do not know, do not give out your passwords to anyone or anything asking for it that you do not trust or know.
Again, if you guys have any comments or questions as well as anything I need to add or fix please drop a comment and let me know. Thank you for reading guys. I will be fixing this guide soon making it better, I wrote it all in one shot off the hat.


  1. Glad I helped. A lot of people in my area are really interested in encryption. Its good to have. Should never skimp out on protection of privacy.