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Top 10 ways you can destroy your PC while fighting with viruses

While fighting with viruses and spyware on his PC novice and even advanced user can easily destroy it (or at least make problems he won't be able to solve himself) while following advices of "computer savvy" from the next door. Here are the most common ways people harm their PCs in "spyware fever":

10. Use several different anti viruses, anti spyware and/or firewalls on one PC.

"They will work better together.", "I will have more powerful defense" - here are what we hear regularly from our users.

The truth: by installing several anti viruses, anti spyware or firewalls from different vendors you turn your PC into the battlefield. However, the battle will be not against malware but between these anti malware programs instead. If they do not ruin your computer, they will definitely decrease its performance dramatically. Therefore, the best practice is to install one anti virus, one anti spyware and one firewall. That's all and enough for a complete protection of your PC.

9. Tell everyone how secure your computer is.

"Everyone will know that it is better not to hack my PC - this is uselessly", "Nobody will try to penetrate my protection when they know how much I paid for my firewall".

The truth: NEVER EVER tell anybody (including best friend) about security programs installed on your PC and the protection you have. You will scare nobody but attract unnecessary interest to your PC and yourself by telling everyone how secure you are. Remember that knowledge is the best weapon of all ages. It's better not to give such weapon into the hands of your enemy.

8. Solve all problems listed by anti virus and anti spyware in one click without even reading their descriptions.

"Anti spyware vendors know better which is spyware and which is needed program", "I paid them money, why should I think after all?", "I chose sort of click & forget solution"

The truth: Most professional anti viruses and anti spyware indeed know better which file is good and which is bad. However, these are people who make those anti viruses and anti spyware programs and people tend to make mistakes, even professionals. So you'd better read descriptions and placement of found threats before removing them.

There is one additional problem in malware detection. You may consider that some particular program is not malware (because you use it) despite the fact that it really collects and sends somewhere your private information. For example, most people think that most p2p clients (like Kazaa or eDonkey) are safe and private while they are not. However, if you agree to waive some part of your privacy in exchange of ability to use p2p networks, you will probably select not to delete such programs though anti spyware tells you that you should.

7. Install the newest versions of each security programs you come across.

"The newer the program - the better it is", "I will have the latest defense available on the market".

The truth: Avoid beta versions and minor versions of security programs (like v2.4.05). They may contain dangerous errors. Install proven and stable builds of security programs only.

6. Turn off Windows Update, Windows Restore and Windows Firewall.

"They consume too much resources and are useless", "I'd better rely on my own then on Microsoft"

The truth: These services indeed consume some additional resources that you may need for your new colorful wallpaper or fancy screensaver. They however provide additional defense and can really help you in case of emergency. It's better to have previous ring-buoy than to have nothing when you are overboard.

5. Never read License Agreement when installing new programs.

"They always write the same and copy agreements from each other", "They are written for lawyers, not for home users"

The truth: License Agreements actually contain a lot of important information for end user. If the program collects private information and sends it somewhere, this fact can be mentioned in the license agreement. If the program silently installs spyware or is adware supported - you will know of this fact from the license agreement (not always, but often). License agreement is a weapon, which can be used by both sides. If you agree with it without even reading it - the weapon is on developer's side. If you read it and choose whether agree or not - it is on your side.

4. Turn off all startup entries and services in msconfig.exe.

"Viruses always run themselves from msconfig.exe", "I do not know all these programs and services running at startup. They are useless."

The truth: While certain types of trojans and spyware really can run using startup entries in registry and work as services, a lot of legitimate and even system-critical programs use the same way to run themselves. By disabling all startup entries, you will stop possibly useful programs from working. By disabling all services, you will make your Windows unbootable. By the way, msconfig.exe is a handy utility and nothing more. Deleting it is also a very bad idea.

3. Kill each instance of Svchost.exe file in processes.

"All these five or six instances of svchost.exe are definitely viruses!", "Why do I have so much copies of the same file running? It is probably infected!"

The truth: Svchost.exe is generic host process. It means that this file runs different services and libraries that can't be run on their own. So if you see six svchost.exe files in processes, these are DIFFERENT processes. They host different services and libraries. It is okay to have from four to eight or even more svchost.exe files in processes. They all are legitimate. Terminating them will cause system instability and sometimes even Windows halt. In fact, some viruses and trojans pretend to be legal svchost.exe. However, you are definitely not able to decide yourself which svchost.exe process is bad and which one is good. Use anti virus and anti spyware programs for this purpose.

2. Place all critical information into encrypted NTFS partitions.

"My critical and private information will be unreachable by frauds and hackers"

The truth: Indeed, it is very difficult to hack encrypted NTFS sections as they use asymmetric code. However, your critical documents are at other risk - the risk of being lost forever. You should know that you will lost your encrypted documents when, for example, reinstall Windows, as each time Windows is installed it generates new cryptographic keys. You can create backup of cryptographic keys and prevent loss, but only if you know how to do this. This is a task for security professional, not for home user. So if you are a home user and do not want problems with your documents, advanced NTFS encryption features are not for you.

1. Delete every unknown file with strange name, especially marked as hidden, especially in Windows or System32 folder.

"I have not installed this file myself, so I do not need it"

The truth: This is the most common mistake, which can cause anything from crash of certain application to fatal crash of the whole system. By deleting single unknown file, you can easily make your system unbootable. So do not touch something you do not know much about.

If you are unaware, whether certain file or process or registry entry is malicious or not use anti virus and anti spyware program like True Sword. If you want professionals to monitor security of your computer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year - use system security monitor like Active Shield. These are proven programs that will make your PC secure and your documents safe.

Konstantin Artemev,
Security Expert of Security Stronghold Company

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