IN DEPTH: BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO COMPUTER SECURITY
Ask the experts
CBC News Online | Updated Feb. 25, 2005
Editor's note: Thank you for your questions. This forum is now closed.
Do you have a question regarding securing your home computer? This is your chance. E-mail us with your questions, using the subject line "Ask the experts: computer security."
We'll get one of our experts to answer it on this site.
Unfortunately, not all questions we receive can be answered in this column, but we'll try to get to as many of your e-mails as possible.
The answers posted on this page are the opinions of consultants Ryan Purita, Rosaleen Citron and Tod Maffin, and do not necessarily reflect the views of CBC.ca.
The answers are intended to be general in nature and for informational purposes only. Readers adopting
any advice about computer security do so at their own risk.
CBC cannot be liable for any actions, losses, or damages to any computer system that may result
from your use of or reliance on information posted on this page.
CEO, White Hat Inc.
CBC technology columnist.
Consultant, Totally Connected Security.
I recently received an "update alert" from my internet provider via email. They informed me that they will now provide their
customers with an anti-virus program free to all customers. When I followed the link and went to download
their program, they said I had to remove all other anti-virus programs.
This includes Norton and any other program you buy, and all others
that are free downloads. I haven't done it as I'm afraid I'll be
exposing myself to all kinds of things if I remove these programs as
well as the fact that Norton has other utilities attached to it. What
is your opinion of this offer is it safe? Should
I take advantage of it? I'd be very interested and thankful for your
This is an interesting question, as the reader has already made an
investment in good at-home products, and even though this is a free
service one has to ask how long it will be before the users see an
increase in their bill, or a separate bill for this security package.
The cost for this type of service ranges around $5.00 - $10.00 retail
per user that money has to come from somewhere.
Further this reader has an issue with "other Norton Utilities" attached.
They would need to talk to their internet service provider help desk and potentially the Norton
help desk; it may be a conflict issue with the package from Norton and
the service from their ISP.
However if the reader doesn't want the hassle of constantly updating and
if it's ok to continue with the associated Norton utilities that are of
concern to the reader then they are well served to use the ISP service
as it is in the ISP's interest to make sure that the anti-virus and spam
filters etc. are updated by the hour instead of home users who update
As the home user I would ask for specific instructions on how to remove
their current software and make sure the ISP service is already running
so there is no delay or time that their computer is open on the
Some readers want to know what to do if they think their computer's already infected.
Ryan Purita, a consultant at Totally Connected Security recommends the following:
Rosaleen Citron, CEO of security firm White Hat Inc., has this following advice:
- First thing is get an online scan done. You can go to websites like
http://housecall.trendmicro.com which will scan your computer for
viruses without the need to download and install a program.
If it finds an infection, you need to unplug from the internet immediately. If you have a virus like sasser, AGOBOT, MyDoom, you are more then likely spreading the virus to other people. Unplugging from the internet is the best thing you can do.
- If you can get to another computer, download anti-virus programs to CD
and move to the infected machine. Companies like Symantec and McAfee
have free programs which will eradicate certain viruses. McAfee's AVERT
Stinger removes several viruses and is free for download.
- Make sure that a current copy of anti-virus is running. Use a manual scan to check the machine for viruses. Be aware that some viruses disable common anti-virus software.
- Also, download and run the free versions of Lavasoft Ad-Aware and Spybot Search and Destroy. These scan for spyware. Of note, Spybot considers tracking cookies to be spyware, so users shouldn't worry too much about these as long as they consent to using the web sites that employ these cookies.
- Make sure all the recommended software patches and updates have been installed.
- If unusual behavior continues, data on the machine should be backed up, and it should be rebuilt from scratch with anti-virus and a personal firewall. It's not unusual to see machines that are "too far gone" to disinfect.