IMO, while you've certainly done more than the average person, there's still a ways for you to go in your education. So, I'm going to include my list of general tips on avoiding problems like these. Before I get to that though, I will say that Geek Squad, and those like it, are generally rip-offs. By some stroke of dumb luck you seem to have stumbled across someone who knows something, but you can't count on that every time.
I'll also say McAfee and Norton both should be avoided like the plague, for different reasons. McAfee is a huge resource hog, and Norton is both a huge resource hog AND has problems with false positives more often than it should. Windows Defender is pretty much a joke, and tends to come in dead last on most all security program tests.
Anyway, I think most of the rest will be covered by my list of tips, but if you have any further questions, feel free to ask. Someone will likely answer them if not me.
TIPS FOR A SMOOTH RUNNING SYSTEM
The more of these suggestions you follow, the fewer problems you should have. They won't solve any existing problems you have, but if you follow them all you should be able to avoid virtually all problems in the future.
Things you should NOT do
1: Use Internet Explorer (1)
2: Use any browser based on Internet Explorer (e.g. Maxathon and MSN Explorer)
3: Use Outlook or Outlook Express (2)
4: Open email attachments you haven't manually scanned with your virus scanner
5: Open email attachments you were not expecting, no matter who they appear to be from
6: Respond to spam messages, including using unsubscribe links
7: Visit questionable websites (e.g. porn, warez, hacking)
8: Poke unnecessary holes in your firewall by clicking "Allow" every time some program requests access to the Internet (3)
9: Click directly on links in email messages
10: Use file sharing or P2P programs
11: Use pirated programs
Things you SHOULD do
1: Use a non-IE or IE based browser (4)
2: Always have an up to date virus scanner running (5)
3: Always have a firewall running (6)
4: Install all the latest security updates (7)(8)(9)
5: Delete all unsolicited emails containing attachments without reading
6: Manually scan all email attachments with your virus scanner, regardless of whether it's supposed to be done automatically
7: Copy and paste URLs from email messages into your web browser
8: Inspect links copied and pasted into your web browser to ensure they don't seem to contain a second/different address
9: Establish a regular backup regimin (10)(11)
10: Make regular checks of your backup media to ensure it is still good (12)
Being a considerate Internet user & other misc tips
1: Do not send attachments in emails (13)(14)
2: Do not use stationary or any other kind of special formatting in emails (13)
3: Do not TYPE IN ALL CAPS (15)
4: Avoid texting speak or "l33t speak" (16)
5: Do not poke the sleeping bear (17)
(1) Sadly sometimes this is unavoidable, so only use IE when the site absolutely will not work with any other browser and you cannot get that information/service anywhere else, and only use IE for that one specific site.
(2) Outlook and Outlook Express are very insecure, and basically invite spam. The jury is still out on Vista's Windows Mail, but given Microsoft's history with email programs, extreme caution is advised. Possible replacements include Mozilla Thunderbird, Eudora, The Bat, and dozens of others.
(3) When it doubt over whether or not to allow some program, use Google to find out what it is and whether or not it needs access to the Internet. Otherwise, denying access is the safest course of action, since you can always change the rule later.
(4) On Windows your options include: Mozilla Firefox, Seamonkey, Opera, Flock, Chrome, and Safari. It doesn't matter which one you pick so much as that you pick one of them and use it over IE.
(5) AVG Free and Avast are available if you need a decent free virus scanner
(6) XP/Vista's firewall is probably good enough for 99% of all Windows users, but other options include ZoneAlarm, Outpost Firewall, and Comodo. If you have a router with a firewall built into it, there is no need for any of the aforementioned firewalls to be running.
(7) Microsoft's usual system is to release security updates every second Tuesday of the month.
(8) Use of Windows Update on Windows operating systems prior to Windows Vista requires Internet Explorer, and is thus a valid exception to the "No IE" rule.
(9) Service packs should ALWAYS be installed. They frequently contain security updates that will ONLY be found in that service pack.
(10) You can go with a full fledged backup program, or simply copying important files onto a CD/DVD/Flash drive.
(11) I'd recommend a tiered backup system. For example, you might have 5 rewritable DVDs, and every day you burn your backup onto a new disc. On the 6th day, you erase the disc for Day #1 for your backup, and so on so that you have multiple backups should one disc ever go bad.
(12) Replace rewritable CDs and DVDs approximately every 3-6 months.
(13) These dramatically increase the size of email messages (2-3X minimum) and clog up email servers already straining to cope with the flood of spam pouring in daily.
(14) If you want to share photos with friends/family, upload them to some photo sharing site like Flickr or Google's Picasa Web and then send people a link to that particular photo gallery.
(15) This is considered to be the same as SHOUTING and many people find it to be hard to read along with highly annoying.
(16) Unless the goal is to make yourself look like a pre-adolescent girl, or someone overcompensating for their gross inadequacies, and you don't want people to take you seriously.
(17) Most REAL hackers are quite content to leave you alone unless you make them take notice of you. No dinky little software firewall or consumer grade router is going to keep them out of your system. So do not go to some hacker website or chat room and start shooting your mouth off unless you're prepared to accept the consequences
Last friday evening 12/12/08 somehow a "Trojan agent-tdss" got on my system bypassing most of my security programs Webroot spysweeper caught it and qualintined it. I then deleted it and it copied itself back. My system crashed with in 12 hours. I deconnect my computer from the phone jack when not in use so I may have been Hijacked for maybe 2 hours. I had the Geek out but they couldn't bring my system back had to reformat my HD. But this trojan hijacked my system and while I was on-line used my system to send spam. The Geek tech told me that the trojan is now gone along with most of my files (no recent backup). I've alerted AOL internet provider. I'm still getting emails from people, that were spamed like myself asking me to remove them from some mailing list I don't have. Is there somewhere forum I could go to to advise others that these are spam? I'm looking for a great internet security program. What are your thoughts on these:
Note if you get an email with "Prestiage Sportscards" in the subject line be careful.
The tech at Best Buy suggested Kaspersky Internet Security suite. He also states that once my HD was reformated that no additional spamming emails could be sent by my computer. Also I using dailup connection not high speed. How's Net Zero or people PC as internet providers. I'm lookinh to close my AOL account AOL believe there's nithing better then McAfee.