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I am in the process of selling a desktop computer to a friend who for all intents and purposes is a computer beginner. I will be recommending to her that as soon as she gets on line she subscribes to an anti-virus site, but what about firewalls? If she will only be on a dialup connection, does she need a firewall? I have Zonealarm (free version) on my computer but if I put it on hers I know she is going to be totally confused every time it asks "do you want to allow this etc etc".
Similarly, what do I tell her about the "do you want to download xxxxx and do you want to always trust soandso corporation?" My default answer is No, piss off, if I want you I'll ask for you, but is that a suitable response for newbies? How often will she miss out on something relatively iimportant by always saying no?
I know this is by definition vague, but any hints in the general direction would be appreciated.
Perhaps Win XP's built-in Internet Connection Firewall would be adequate? Assuming that your friend is going to be using XP that is! Has the benefit of not requiring any setup and sits there quietly and invisibly.
I use Norton Internet Security myself, but with all the warnings turned off. Straightforward to set up and quietly updates itself without any user intervention. My Dad also has it installed on his PC and hasn't called to ask any awkward questions about it, so I take that as a reasonable endorsement as to its friendliness to the lower end of the computer literacy scale!
Backups are the primary defence against nasties - you can always reinstall the OS.
If she's got a CD writer try to teach her some thing about backing up datafiles and address books.
The only way to get people to do regular backups is to enforce it - i.e. the system stops, tells them in cretinously simple terms what to do ("Put a blank CD in the CD writer"), check every stage (No, that CD isn't blank. Try another") and just refuse to go on until the job is done (and checked!). But even the dimmest nitwit quickly figures out a way round the enforcement.
Tape streamers are rather good for transparent cumulative backups but they seem to be on the wane.
It is always possible to automate transparent backups via Task Scheduler but this really only works on networks or to a storage server over broadband.
Activate the XP firewall - it isn't very good but it's better than nothing and isn't as intrusive as other firewalls. On dialup the risks of hacking are not huge unless you're up for long periods.
Stick in a good antivirus program on autoupdate.
[The best defence is knowledge. Folks who are interested instruct themselves by poking around and reading stuff and react accordingly. Only in a corporate environment can you enforce good practices on idiots and even then its a chore]
I like the way Mac thinks. First off teach her the do's and don'ts. Let her play on the net and call you whenever she has questions. Do not have her load up the comp with a bunch of data until she is pretty comfortable with surfing and understands what can be harmful.
If you are worried about firewalls and internet security, there is nothing better than a hardware firewall. Get her a router and then she will not get the popups about allowing this or that to pass though.
P.S. There is no substitute to burning your data onto a CD and putting it in a safe place.
I'm actually selling her my daughter's desktop, my daughter having bought my laptop. It's only a 533Celeron with W98SE, so no WinXP firewall.
I suspect the lady's ignorance may be her best defence. I'll tell her to say no to anything she's not sure about and reinforce the notion of never opening an email unless she knows who it's from. Mac, I would heartily endorse your comments about backups except that I have failed miserably in my own efforts to remember to do so.
The beauty of this person starting off from such a low level is that reinstalling everything she's got on the computer won't be much of a task.
I'll tell her to say no to anything she's not sure about and reinforce the notion of never opening an email unless she knows who it's from.
That is the number one way people catch viruses, it is because they open an email from a known person/friend. Most viruses will go in on an infected computer and send itself via Email to everyone in the infected computer's Address Book and then it will go though every email ever sent or received from that computer and send it to all of them too.
You need to explain that she should not open any attachments even if it is from a friend unless you knew prior that it was coming!!!
Why not run the machine online for a couple of hours yourself to check that ZoneAlarm is set to let the right stuff through. Macromedia players etc.
Advise if she gets any of the pop ups like Gator to always say no but you could install a copy of SpywareBlaster which prevents these nasties, get it here you will have to make sure it is set to run at startup.
I have passed on many computers to elderly rellies and if you drum into them the rules they do tend to stick to them.
Don't run with yer shields down...! Every PC that collects email should have virus protection, advise like "don't open attachments from people you don't know" is going to end in tears.
I got Norton Anti Virus 2003 on my machine and it's trapped 7 inbound viruses attached to email this month...!!
Hop over to ebay uk you can pick up a kosher copy of Norton Internet Security 2003 for 15 squids, it includes Nortons firewall and anti-virus 2003 plus 12 months of updates. (I have heard of folks having problems with NAV2003 on WIN 98 & ME, if you are running one of these then maybe NAV 2002 would be a better bet, also available on ebay.)