Computer Help forum

General discussion

PC security question

My friend has Windows XP and SpyDoctor anti-spyware and anti-virus program. She doesn't have a firewall except for the one-way XP one. Someone installed a black box kind of thing (a router maybe?) and told her that she wouldn't need a firewall because of that. But she's getting tons of viruses and trojans now. I want to help her by giving her my copy of Zone Alarm Pro and helping her to download AVG, Ad-Aware and Spybot and CC:Cleaner. Would any of these be a problem with what she has on there now?

Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: PC security question
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: PC security question
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
Collapse -
No conflicts...

In reply to: PC security question

A hardware-based firewall is always a good line of defense, but you should note that it does not block malware from being downloaded/installed. If she's not careful should could easily download 'GreatNewGame.exe' and not know it's actually loaded with viruses, trojans, etc. and the firewall may not even blink since it was a valid download she requested. Thus, I'd recommend having her scan downloads with AVG and SpyDoctor before launching them and/or setting AVG to scan all files on access. That should greatly reduce what gets installed.

Hope this helps,

Collapse -
No conflicts

In reply to: No conflicts...

Good advice. Thank you. Do I need to disable the XP firewall before I install the Zone Alarm Pro?

Collapse -
Not necessary...

In reply to: No conflicts

You can, and it's advisable since you're not doubling your protection, so to speak, just doubling the points where problems may arise, but it's not absolutely necessary either.


Collapse -
Couple of things

In reply to: PC security question

First, the XP firewall is NOT one way. It is, in fact, quite capable of blocking outgoing connections, but blocking outgoing connections is completely useless about 99.9% of the time from a security standpoint, so there's no point.

Second, NO firewall, be it in a router or software firewall like ZoneAlarm, will prevent someone from downloading malware, or a drive-by style malware installation exploiting one of dozens of different IE security vulnerabilities. That, quite simply, is NOT the job of a firewall. If you expect this sort of service from a firewall, expect to be very disappointed. It's important to know what a firewall will and will NOT protect you from. There are a lot of things they WILL NOT protect you from that you quite probably thought they did.

Third, the biggest threat to computer security is user ignorance. Computers are not appliances, no matter how much Apple and Microsoft try to convince you otherwise. They do require some care in their use. There really should be the equivalent to a driver's ed course for computers, but there's not, so it's up to everyone to educate themselves.

Fourth, it's not rocket science to keep a computer running smoothly. Really. The thing that sets "geeks" apart from everyone else, is that the "geeks" recognize the similarities between computers and other areas of life, and apply lessons learned in one area to another. As an example, before email made spam a possibility, there were people running scams by postal mail and phone. There still are a few people doing this, but email is much cheaper and lower risk, so it's not so common anymore. If you know it's not a good idea to give out your social security number to just anyone over the phone, why then would it be a good idea to do it over the Internet?

Here are some tips you can pass along to your friend. If she follows them strictly, after her current mess is cleaned up, I can pretty much guarantee she will enjoy long periods of uninterrupted use of her computer. Even if she only follows the don't use IE, don't use file sharing or P2P programs, and don't use pirated programs suggestions, the number of problems she experiences should drop dramatically.


The more of these suggestions you follow, the fewer problems you should have. Follow them all, and you've probably eliminated at least 95% of all potential problem sources.

Things you should NOT do
1: Use Internet Explorer
2: Use any browser based on Internet Explorer
3: Use Outlook or Outlook Express
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
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
2: Always have an up to date virus scanner running
3: Always have a firewall running
4: Install all the latest security updates (the exception to the no-IE rule)
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

Collapse -
security info

In reply to: Couple of things

That's a lot of detail. Some good info for me too. Thanks.

Collapse -
One other thing...

In reply to: PC security question

Giving her your copy of ZoneAlarm Pro.

That might be treated as illegal, especially if you are still using your version. Even if you are not, the boundaries seem a little blurred to me. But ZoneAlarm also have a free version that is just as good a firewall as the Pro version. It just doesn't have the bells and whistles.

I tend to agree with most of what JG says. His post is worth reading carefully.


Collapse -
Zone Alarm

In reply to: One other thing...

Actually I haven't used the Zone Alarm Pro yet. I bought it but couldn't use it because I still have Windows ME and it doesn't support it so I am using a free version of Zone Alarm.

Popular Forums

Computer Newbies 10,686 discussions
Computer Help 54,365 discussions
Laptops 21,181 discussions
Networking & Wireless 16,313 discussions
Phones 17,137 discussions
Security 31,287 discussions
TVs & Home Theaters 22,101 discussions
Windows 7 8,164 discussions
Windows 10 2,657 discussions


This one tip will help you sleep better tonight

A few seconds are all you need to get a better night's rest.