Sunday, August 29, 2004

Da E-Mail's Gonna Get You, Da E-Mail's Gonna Get You, Da E-mail's Gonna Get You... Pub-lic-i-ty

By: Michael Akerman

If you'll kindly direct your attention to the line above this (the one which says "Posted by Michael Akerman," with Michael Akerman in fancy-doodle lettering), you may notice a small icon that looks like a letter with an arrow, obviously signifying that it is moving on somewhere. That's right, it's the classic internet representation of e-mail! Due to Blogger's being all awesome and such, they released a way to enable a feature that allows you, the reader, to spread the word about IVIC with a convenient clickable!

So, seeing as you're all in college (except for those of you who aren't), surrounded by politically charged, sometimes-angry-but-always-furious-at-Bush, liberal, Hippie college students (and one or two intelligent Republicans), it would behoove you to send along posts you think someone would enjoy or be enraged by to... whoever it is... you were thinking of.

As I said in a comment below, the big blogs get about 300 comments a day. IVIC's got a lot of catching up to do (like getting a better domain name, which costs money, which I don't have (hint hint, wink wink, click click, ads ads)), so get the word out in a non-threatening, welcoming, come-or-else manner!

Now, for a public service announcement after my advertisement:

My computer recently fell prey to a virus (sux0r). And before you ask, yes, I always keep my virus definitions up to date, and it's Symantec Professional, so it's got the most accurate virus definitions, too. Apparently, I fell prey to a Brand-New (ooh, aah!) virus.

It was a back door Trojan (which sounds gross. To quote the Simpsons: "From now on, when people think of wood, they'll think of Trojans!"), meaning it pulls spyware, adware, malware and the like off the internet. It's not particularly dangerous, but it fills up your hard drive and takes up a lot of processor time.

If this was one of those viri that sends itself to everyone in my address book, and you got it... um... sorry, I guess, but you really oughtn't open files from anyone if you don't expect it or don't know what it is.

At any rate, I stress that even if you don't notice something wrong with your computer, run a spyware check often (weekly, if you can) and a virus scan as often (at least monthly. I run one twice a week).

Now, for the links:

My favorite spyware scanner is Spybot- Search & Destroy. It is an absolutely free program that you can get here. Make sure you update every time you use it, although I think it does that automatically the first time with the new version (1.3).

Additionally, you may want to run Ad-Aware from Lavasoft (especially the first few times) after Spybot. It's a (mostly) free program (meaning you can buy a better, licebsed version, but the free one is pretty good) from a different company, so it catches slightly different programs. Personally, I run Spybot almost exclusively, and only run Ad-Aware when I notice spyware that's not being caught by Spybot, or I'm under seige by spyware for some reason (like my recent virus, or if a particularly spyware-laden site slips through my various defenses). You can get Ad-Aware here.

Now, the most important bit of protection: antivirus. Here, we have a lot of options:

A commercial antivirus is often the best. If you're going to go commercial, you might as well buy Symantec's Norton Antivirus, because it's simply the best, though it's somewhat pricey.

If you're a student at NC State, you can get a free copy of Symantec Professional Antivirus: Corporate Edition. This is pretty much the best antivirus out there, and is updated automatically by the NC State server when new definitions come out. Set it up to run a full system scan at least monthly (again, I run mine twice weekly). You can download this here. Notice, you'll have to log in with your Unity ID and password to download it.

Additionally, there are several free alternatives: the best, according to many sources, is AVG Anti-Virus: Free Edition. After a short registration form, you recieve an e-mail allowing you to get fully functional virus protection for free (not quite as good as Norton, but close). Of course, I can't really give you a review of this one, because I've never used it, but you can get it here.

One last option for RoadRunner subscribers is the EZ Armor security suite, available for free to RoadRunner subscribers at the RoadRunner website (which is not letting me log in at the moment, so I can't get EZ Armor's exact link) which is EZ Armor comes with antivirus and firewall.

Speaking of firewalls, Windows XP Service Pack 2 has an integrated firewall (it's not bad, really). Otherwise, there are some free firewall options left, but they're getting harder and harder to find. The best (still) is ZoneAlarm, but it has been decreased from it's former full free version glory to a somewhat stripped down version. Anyways, it's available here.

If you really want to know what to do to fix up your computer, and keep it running in tip-top shape, PC Pitstop is a wealth of knowledge, and has an application set up (use IE) that will scan almost every aspect of your computer and tell you what's wrong, what could be improved, and how to fix it (the site's secure with your information, believe me).

That's about it from me. Do yourself and everyone else a favor: keep your computer virus and spyware-free.

~Michael Akerman