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Protect and Secure Your Computer Life

By Janet L. Hall
Posted Friday, November 26, 2004

Cyberterrorists are no longer considered isolated problems. Big and small companies, organizations, and even personal computers get targeted every day. It’s a worldwide problem. Viruses that run through your computers, stealing your data and sending fake emails to friends and business associates. Hackers that go after anyone with a computer, just for the thrill of it, to see if they can. Computer owners neglecting to perform backups and sadly losing their "life" when a virus attacks or their computer crashes. Surfing the Internet, all the while leaving “almost” invisible trails of where you’ve been.

To maintain a balance of protection from the outside world, and yourself, there are at least four important things EVERY computer owner should have or do. Do you know what they are, and are you protecting and securing your important or sensitive data?

1. Virus Scan/Protection 2. Personal Firewall
3. Backups
4. Cleaning out your Cache, History, and Cookies

VIRUS Scan/Protection:

According to, on Sept. 26, 2001, the top 10 viruses had infected 117,427 computers and 962,767 files had been infected worldwide in the past 24 hours.

Usually a virus is sent via email, in the email or as an attachment.
The sender is usually unaware they have sent you a virus. They don't know they have a virus, they don't know a virus has attacked their address book and is sending out emails to everyone listed in their book, along with a virus.

Whether someone you know or don't know sends a virus to you, take these precautions:

6 VIRUS Precautions:

1. If you don’t know the sender, don’t open the attachment.
2. Request the information in the attachment to be re- sent and inside an email.
3. Purchase a virus scanner!
4. Make sure your virus scanner is turned on (enabled) to scan incoming emails and downloads.
5. Update your virus scanner regularly, especially when you hear about a new virus running rampant.
6. Scan your computer (Virus Scan) daily or weekly (start your scan before dinner, a meeting, or before you take a shower. This way your computer time isn't interrupted).


Every time we turn on our computers our data is at risk. Whether your computer is used for business or personal, your data, and your computer life are at RISK!

For the last five years or more my computer went unprotected from hackers and intruders. My writings, business information, database, and all the other things that go along with running a business had been left wide open and vulnerable for any hacker to "have a look see," steal, or destroy.

Why didn't I have one and why don't you?

Maybe you are thinking the way I use to think. I didn't think anyone would want my stuff or even bother me, after all, I'm just a small business owner. But I soon discovered that didn't matter. I received 12 alerts of "someone" trying to access my computer the evening I purchased and installed my firewall! And I promise you, that was NOT a fluke! Every time I turn on my computer my firewall sends me alerts that some cyberterrorist hacker is trying to access my computer.

So what's on your computer that you don't want anyone to have access to or lose?

Also, check with your employer and web hosting company to see if they have a firewall installed.


It can never be mentioned enough, do backups regularly! By the way, when was the last time you performed a backup of your, "I'll just die if I lose this stuff!" but NEVER take the time to back it up?

I'm going to give you a couple of new tips I've discovered since writing, "B is for Backups" (

3 NEW Tips for FAST Backups and Protection:

1. Purchase a Portable Firewire: A Firewire is basically a high transfer external hard drive that you can back your data up to and then take it off site, put in the trunk of your car, at a family or friends home. I do not use one but I know people that do. You might need to speak to your computer tech person or get a high school kid to help you out on what to buy and install.

2. Install a Second Hard Drive: I recently installed a second hard drive on my computer. I left all my programs on my C drive and put "My Docs" on my new drive. Now I don't waste time by backing up everything. I can quickly backup "My Docs" and I only need to backup Programs when I update or install a new program.

3. On-the-road Backups: Faking a backup until you make it back to your office or home. Tom Antion, of, gave me this neat trick for when you're on the road using your laptop. Instead of doing a backup of “NEW” files to a disk, he just sends his important data he needs and wouldn't want to lose to his AOL email address, where it will live "safely" on AOL’s servers until he gets back to his office. You can do this yourself by getting a free email account at yahoo, hotmail, or any of the other various places you can get a free account. This way your important stuff "lives" on their server until you can get back home and back it up.

Cleaning out your Cache, History, and Cookies:

Periodically I clean out my cache, history, and cookies, and even all the images that get downloaded to my computer while I'm on the Internet. Why? For one thing, they take up precious space and resources.

There are several programs on the Internet that you can purchase to clean up and delete all this for you, but after speaking with my tech person, John Guldi, I decided NOT to purchase one. Why? John explained that these types of programs not only take up space and resources but also can actually be damaging and possibly delete things you don't want deleted.

So again, it's just a matter of knowing how to clean up and get rid of these, and adding these procedures to your computer maintenance schedule.

The following instructions are for the browser I use, Microsoft Internet Explorer; however, the same tasks can be accomplished in other browsers with almost the same steps and wording. Just click around or read your help section.

Empty your Cache and History:

Your computer has two folders, Cache (sometimes called Temp. Internet) and History, that while surfing the Internet, stores pages and links to all the pages you’ve viewed. They are stored automatically for you for quick viewing or retrieval if you go back to visit at a later time, meaning, the page will load a little faster for you when you return.

Instructions to EMPTY:

While on the Internet, in your browser, click on TOOLS at the top of your screen. Scroll down to INTERNET OPTIONS and click.

You will be presented with several "TABS" in the new window. Click on GENERAL.

See the TEMPORARY INTERNET FILES, also known as CACHE. You have two options here: Delete Files and Settings. Click DELETE FILES.

Now, see HISTORY? You have two options: You can set how many days you want those pages stored and emptied automatically, and CLEAR HISTORY; click this one.

Deleting COOKIES:

Cookies are stored on you computer, and used by some sites you visit to identify you, and may be used to track your browsing or surfing habits.

Click Start (Usually located on the left bottom of your screen). Place Pointer on FIND and move Pointer to Files or Folders and Click. Make sure the C Drive is selected in the LOOK IN, and in the NAMED type in Cookies and click FIND NOW.

One Cookie Folder should be found, but don't worry if you have more then one, I do. Click on the folder to open, and now you can start deleting those cookies that follow you around. Click on Edit, Click Select All and then hit your DELETE key on your keyboard.

Protecting and securing your computer can be controlled stopped by just spending a few dollars a year, and scheduling computer maintenance time.

Firewalls and a virus protector run about $39.95 and up. That's not a lot of money to put out to protect your data, your computer, your business, and your "life!" For a few pennies a day, I urge you to go get some protection today.

I use McAfee, totted as the number one virus scanner and easy to use

I use an inexpensive firewall from Zone Labs. Click Here to Purchase Award-Winning ZoneAlarm Pro! at:

The Organizing Wizard, Janet L. Hall, is a Professional Organizer, Speaker, and Author. She is the owner of OverHall Consulting, and Organizing By Phone. Subscribe to her FREE organizing newsletter at ( or visit her web site at (

Copyright 2001 by OverHall Consulting P.O. Box 263, Port Republic, MD 20676 All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted to reproduce, copy, or distribute so long as article is kept intact, this copyright notice and full information about contacting the author is attached.

About the Author
The Organizing Wizard, Janet L. Hall, is a Professional Organizer, Speaker, and Author. She is the owner of OverHall Consulting, and Organizing By Phone. Subscribe to her FREE organizing newsletter at ( or visit her web site at (


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