Computer Forensics Methods For the Home User

Many homes today have more than one computer or even a home network. Homes today have: parents who use the computer for work, gaming and entertainment and also their children use it for schoolwork, gaming and socializing with their friends.

If you need to find out what’s happening on your computer when you are not using it, you can do so by running software on it that tells you everything. If you prefer the long way, you could try sifting through files on the desktop to look at history, cookies, websites visited and images caches but this method is long and tedious and won’t tell you everything. Plus, the others in your household may be clearing their tracks after using the computer.

You can set up your computer so that it erases all your files after each use making investigating the habits of your children, teenagers or spouse difficult. If they are clearing out the cache and temporary internet files after each use it can feel near impossible to find out what they are doing.

As a parent or husband or wife you may feel the need to investigate what your family members are doing on the computer. Perhaps you are worried that your children are chatting with strangers and giving out personal information. Maybe you are worried that your teenaged son is downloading pornography or that your teenaged daughter is chatting with undesirables. Maybe you’re even worried that your husband is downloading pornography or that your wife is chatting with other men.

Whatever your concern, you can find out precisely what’s happening without your family member knowing that they are under your surveillance. Programs can log every move made on the computer and report to you. You can easily install it to run in stealth mode on your personal computer to track:

-Websites visited

-Chat conversations from any instant messaging program

-Emails sent and received

-Screen shots

-Time logs

And more…

Some can send you encrypted files to any address you choose that will give you the information you need to either put your mind at ease that nothing unsafe or inappropriate is happening in your home or arm you with the evidence you need in order to confront a situation with a member of your household. These programs can find out what you need and then be removed or deactivated at will.

Children are faced with bullying and online predators constantly online. Some children don’t tell their parents when they run into trouble. Some children carry on internet conversations with who they perceive to be other children but that may be pedophiles.

Spouses sometimes carry on Internet based relationships or participate in pornographic activities online. This may be something you need to know to help you in your relationship.

Computer Maintenance Checklist – Clean Up Your PC

Maintaining Your Computer

Your computer, whether it’s a laptop or a desktop, will run smoothly and give you years of use if you maintain it properly. Just like a car needs its oil changed periodically, a computer needs its “trash” taken out in more ways than one. Over time, files get written to your disk (eg. internet files, temporary files, programs). For this reason it’s important that you establish a maintenance routine and make sure it gets done at least once a month.

Old, Unused Programs…

The first item on your maintenance checklist should be a review of all the programs that are loaded onto the computer. You may see tool bars, media players you don’t use or an outdated program. Remove any item on the list that you no longer use or is unwanted. You can even prioritize a list by based on use. This will help you find the most seldom used programs on your machine.

Delete Files on Your Internet Browsers…

Next you’ll want to get rid of the all the cookies and temporary files that are also taking up space. Cookies are little packages of tracking software that sites use to identify your computer. You will probably want to keep some cookies because they let you access sites you go to often without having to enter your membership information every time. You’ll be surprised at the hundreds of cookies listed and even more surprised that you only recognize a few of the names. This is because every ad that pops up on your computer sets a cookie, as do advertising banners on sites that you visit. You can collect thousands of these cookies over a period of weeks! Cleaning them out selectively or just clearing the whole lot of them will help your computer run faster.

Your internet browser cache may also slow down your computer. Ironically, it also speeds things up when you access a page that you’ve been to before. If you visit Joe’s Trucking page you computer will store (cache) a copy of that page so that when you access it again it will load quickly. Unfortunately, your cache also uses up memory and can slow down your computer as it grows. It is always a good idea to clear your cache every few weeks before it starts to slow down your computer.

Clean your registry…

(Back up your registry before deleting entries!!!)

Deleting items from your registry is not recommended unless you know what you are doing. Deleting the wrong entry can cause problems for your computer or a program. However, there are programs that scan the registry and bring up a list of invalid registry entries which make it easy(and relatively safe) for the inexperienced user to clean up. A registry full of broken links and out of date files can actually crash your computer. Considering that you add more than a thousand entries to your computer’s registry during one day of web surfing, cleaning it on a monthly basis is almost essential.

Prevent Malware and Viruses…

If you don’t have an antivirus program running on your computer there are several good ones you can buy or download for free. This program will help keep your computer free of viruses and Trojan horse programs that can destroy it so it’s important to update it and scan your hard drive regularly.

You’ll also need a malware program to protect your computer. Malware is software that is programmed to harm your computer and compromise your privacy. You can pick it up through an attachment in an email or even from downloading legitimate programs on the internet. Many antivirus programs contain malware protection but having a specialized program to detect and eliminate malware is the best protection you can have. As with your anti-virus software, be sure to keep it updated and scan your computer regularly.

Update Windows…

It doesn’t matter which version of windows you are running; keeping the operating system up to date is a must when talking about computer maintenance and security. Microsoft puts out updates on a regular basis to ensure all users are protected from viruses and malware, in addition to some improved features. It is recommended that you turn “Automatic Windows updates” on, so this can be done for you at a time you prefer, as it is easy to forget to update Windows.

Defragment your hard drive…

Now that everything else is in order, it’s time to defragmenting your hard drive. Defragging rearranges your files in such a way that improves the efficiency of your drive. Drives become disorderly as you create and delete data such as Word documents or when you download or remove programs. The process will speed up your computer but it’s quite lengthy and many people prefer to let their computer defrag overnight. If you have a Microsoft operating system you have a built-in defragger but most professionals think it leaves a lot to be desired. There are several free and shareware defragging programs that you might want to investigate. Depending on what you do with your computer defragging may not need to be done very often. For the basic user, defragging every 3-6 may be all you need.

Make maintenance and prevention a regular routine and you can keep your PC or laptop running safely at top speed.

Free Computer Security Software – A Leaking Seal!

There is nothing wrong with taking less than adequate measures to prevent a bigger damage to anything you treasure if you have financial or other constraints, as long as this is done temporarily over a short time. Similar reasoning applies when it comes to computer security threats.

Unfortunately some (if not most) computer users tend to forget this. They search on the internet for free computer security software which they dump into their computers and hope for the best. Most of the free software developers consistently forget to inform the downloaders of the inadequacies of their software – and they are many and significant!

A simple search for free anti-spyware programs on any search engine yields significant results. If we exclude genuine beta-software from these results, almost all of these anti-spyware programs operate on the principle – “Get infected first, then call us”. In other words these programs are reactive. They scan and destroy spyware as it’s found in the user’s computer. The real downside of these programs is that they offer no real-time protection. Are you surprised? Maybe you’ve forgotten that “there’s no such thing a free lunch”!

The big computer security software developers spend millions of dollars every year developing products that can quickly detect and destroy new computer security threats like spyware, adware, viruses, hacking techniques, Trojans, worms keyloggers etc

Do you think the developers of free computer security software inject millions of dollars in order to bring users of their software regular software updates? I think not!

Computer security software is such a critical purchase that I think one should actually buy the software before bringing home a new PC!

The most critical software that you should have in you PC is:

  1. Firewall – To protect your PC from hackers and internal malware that maybe trying to “phone home”
  2. Spyware/Adware – To detect the “ETs” that are “phoning home” from your PC, endangering your sensitive information such as passwords, credit card numbers and other sensitive information. These programs also use lots of your critical computer resources. That’s why your computer is slow and crashing lately!
  3. Anti-virus Software – These can either completely wipe out your critical data or render it or your computer useless. The most dangerous thing is that you may end up (unaware!) being a source of the virus (e.g. through email or infected website pages).

Here are common-sense measures you can take to protect your PC:

  1. E-mail – Avoid replying to chain letters. Also be very careful of image attachment. Hackers attach malicious JavaScript program on these.
  2. Regularly update your anti-virus definitions by running the update function of your security software.
  3. Before buying a computer security software or package make sure that it offers regular updates to keep up with new viruses, adware, spyware and other computer security threats.

I want to repeat what I said at the beginning of this article: There is nothing wrong in taking temporary security measures as far as your computer security is concerned (i.e. using free software/downloads). What is wrong is forgetting that the measure was supposed to be over a temporary period in the first place.

Computer Repair – Solutions To Your Computing Problems

Portland is a small city located near the Columbia Rivers of Northwestern United States, and like many other popular cities of United States, it is known for its amazing lifestyle and is listed as the 30th most popular state of the US. The population is estimated to be around 582,130 as in 2009 and the one factor that makes this place most popular is its determination to go “green”! There are high tech planning, investments in building a metro life that is environmental friendly and at the same time technically sound for easy living.

Keeping up with such technical pace requires effective machinery and updated systems. However, one common flaw with all hi-tech systems is that they are very fragile and delicate and now with the World Wide Web, this fragility is of even higher concern. Day in day out we hear of virus attacks, system failures and other technical defects. The good news is that these defects are professionally handled by various Portland computer repair services.

You will get the best experts who are trained in PC repairs of all types. They can help you out with all kinds of problems related to hardware and software. But make sure that you take the services of a registered and certified Portland computer repair service provider.

Most of the service providers give 24/7 computer repair services. The service providers are easily available on call and can guide you, provided the problem is minor and can be tackled easily. But if you have a major crisis then there are two options; either take your computer to the workshop or allow the technician to come over and check the device and if needed, he could also take the device to the company. If you consider the second option then the service provider will charge a little extra. In case of replacement of old hardware with the new one, the cost is calculated separately.

With the constant influx of virus attacks, it is compulsory to have a registered and licensed anti-virus installed. Most of the time problems related to virus and spyware are tackled either through online or remote assistance. When you call on any of the repair services, you will be given suggestions and guidelines about a specific software/hardware. The greater the damages, the more will be the expenses. So, the most economical option is to take precautionary measures.

The most common issue reported by people is of outdated systems that are not able to give required productivity. Portland computer repair service is a surety that your system is cleaned and its hardware and software is updated for optimal performance. Though, you may have to take your device to the service center for a full inspection. You may also need to buy a new processor, RAM or some other hardware for upgrading your computer.

Many service providers in Portland also offer you hardware parts for system upgrade. You can upgrade your system by your own, on their recommendations or they can do it for you. In short, Portland offers all remedies to your computer troubles.

Evaluate Options For Computer Repairs and Computer Service

For those who cannot manage it, it is best to rely on the manufacturing company for computer repairs, especially till such time that the machine is covered by extended warranties. After that, they can use the help of a company that provides services at fixed or variable costs. Since computer service is a survival necessity in the present day world, computer users should have ready access to computer repair options. At the same time, they should also know some of the tips and tricks to get things done cheaply, and without hassles.

The first rule here is for the users to learn some of the basics of computer repairs so that they can manage minor repairs themselves. The operating system will have its own troubleshooting options, and by going through it step by step users will be able to rectify some of the problems themselves. Later versions of windows come with repair disks and when the user boots the computer with it, again, it will have provisions for guiding the users through means to get the problems fixed.

Anyway, repair disks will not solve the entire gamut of problems that make computer service necessary. Further, there are plenty of people whose technical know-how does not allow them to manage computer repairs even with the repair disk and other troubleshooting options that operating systems provide. They might have to get outside help to have the problem rectified.

While taking outside help for computer repairs, it is better not to rely on help from independent sources till such time that the machine is covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. The warranty terms of different manufacturers will vary, but many machines are covered by extended warranties at additional costs even after the mandatory period of one-year warranty. During this period, computer service by the sellers will always work out cheaper than getting it from other sources. Further, spare parts availability for the brand will also be more with the manufacturing company than others.

In some cases, where on site computer repairs is required, and there could be delay in getting the services of the manufacturers, the user may have to rely on help from other sources. However, the cost equation here will have to be calculated by comparing the extra charges that could ensue from taking that help, and the loss resulting from the delay in getting the manufacturer’s computer service.

In a post warranty period scenario, there are generally two ways in which computer service will be available. One is by entering into an annual maintenance contract with the service provider. Here, in return for the payment of a fixed amount every year, the service providers will take care of all the computer repairs needs of the user.

With the other option, the computer owner will have to pay for each repair separately and also pay for spare parts when necessary. It is a bit difficult to predict which of the two methods will work out to be cheaper in the long run. In the case of businesses where malfunctioning of a computer could result in substantial business loss, contracts that will cover all computer repairs could be the better option. For smaller units and home computers, computer service with variable charges may be the right option.

What Is the Current Demand for Computer Forensics Certification?

In recent years, there have been a record number of computer security related crimes than ever before. The more that digital technology advances, the more chances that computer criminals will take advantage and find new ways of stealing and destroying data. That is why the growing interest in computer forensics training is becoming a sought after field for those wanting a high paid and stable forensics career.

If you want to pursue a computer forensics education, there are many forensics classes you will need to complete to get your forensics degree. The basis of your forensics classes will be to become a forensics specialist who can solve computer crimes successfully.

Another aspect of your forensics training will be to find and recover lost or stolen computer systems information, as well as making it safe against future computer criminals. Going to forensics school will also entail becoming trained to analyze other electronic devices besides computers, such as cell phones, iPads, iPhones and other new technological devices that connect to the internet. As a result, you can imagine that there are many in-demand forensics colleges and forensics classes that will help you to get your forensics degree. Believe it or not, you can receive a forensics degree as soon as two years from now.

However, keep in mind that the highest salaried forensics jobs will be from those forensics colleges that offer a four-year degree in the specialized area. Some of the training you will receive when attending a forensics school, will be the basics of computer forensics, as well as much more focused education on computer file recovery, how criminals hide data, administrative procedures when dealing with related court cases.

You will also become an expert in computer forensics software programs used in the profession. If you are someone who enjoys computer work on a full time basis and you also find working with the law interesting, the field of computer forensics will be very rewarding for you. If you also have a degree of skill working with computer software and programs, you will very likely enjoy the computer forensics training you receive.

This is a field that will never be short of jobs because of the continued advancements in computers and digital technology. This, like the healthcare field, is a career you can feel secure about pursuing as it will always be in demand as long as there are computers and people who use them!

Computer Training – Computer Repair and Building

There is no getting around that there are a lot of computers in the world. The percentage of homes alone that now have computers is staggering and with all these computers, some running literally around the clock, there had better be somebody available to repair them when they break down, and they DO break down. If you’re interested in the field of   computer  repair or even building  computers  from the ground up, this  article  will give you some idea of what you can expect to learn from an accredited school.

Even though most of the glamour belongs to those who program computers to work, it is the ones who build and repair them who really have the hardest jobs. There is more involved with the building and repairing of computers than with any aspect of programming, networking or other area. If you plan to do this for a living, a good school will teach you the following:

The first thing you will need is a basic course in electronics. You had better have a solid foundation and understanding of how current flows, what a transistor is, what a resistor is and a number of other electronically related areas. You may not have to know as much as an electrician, but you need to have a fundamental understanding in this area or you can end up frying your PC to a crisp.

After teaching you the basics of electronics, a good school will then concentrate on the individual parts of the computer itself.

You’ll first learn about all the different pieces of electronic equipment that you’ll be using to work on your computer. There are a number of diagnostic and assembly tools that you will need to learn how to use proficiently.

The next thing you will learn is a general overview of the various parts of the computer such as the mother board, power supply, memory chips, hard disk drive and all the peripheral equipment such as CD ROM drives, modems, and floppy disk drives. The entire list is of course much more extensive.

After learning what each part of the computer does, you’ll learn how to shop for various pieces depending on compatibility issues. You’ll learn what hard drives can be used, size wise, based on the type of mother board you have and things of that nature.

You’ll then learn how to install every possible piece that can be put into a computer. This covers hard drives, modems, mother boards, CD ROM drives, backup drives and the list goes on and on. Each one of these items will have special installation instructions.

You’ll learn basic trouble shooting techniques when things start to go wrong. This part of the course is usually the most challenging. What the instructor will usually do is present you with a computer that has a specific problem. As the student, you have to first diagnose what is causing the problem and then figure out the solution needed for repair. This is the most intensive part of the hands on course.

After your computer is built, you’ll then learn how to format your hard drive and how to install the operating system.

Mixed in with these basic areas you’ll also learn about computer numbering systems, how to install adapters, how data is stored and a number of other things that are just beyond the scope of this overview.

Finally, when your course is completed you will then go for your A-1 certification which will qualify you to get a job as a computer technician.

Building and repairing computers is not a glamorous job, but when people bring their computers in to be repaired, they probably count on you more than on anyone else in the computer industry, and that has to be a great feeling.

Possibilities Available With a Computer Forensics Degree

Computer crime is on the rise and there is a huge need for people that can solve this type of crime. The typical criminal activity usually includes burglary or physical attacks of some nature, but hacking into computers to steal ones identity or get information on their online banking is on the rise. To combat this stituation many colleges are now offering courses in computer forensic training.

The type of forensics training you would complete depends on the type of career interested in. These classes have different levels, with the first requiring that you have basic understanding, or preferably, experience with the Windows Operating System. The second level of training would take you through to a degree in computer science.

Of course, the more technical the career the more advanced the classes so if you wanted to work an upper job in computer forensics, expect that you will need to complete many more classes and perhaps, a second degree. However, the more education you have the more opportunities you have regarding a great career.

In addition, some careers would require you to complete forensics training on specific systems. This might include taking classes for network administration, Windows, and security. To save time and money, it would be best to look at all the career options for computer forensics so you can narrow your choice down to the one you want to pursue. With that, you would know exactly the computer forensics training required.

After graduating with your certification or computer science degree, the fun part starts of choosing your career. Again, there are so many possibilities, such as working closely with law enforcement personnel for criminal prosecution, or perhaps computer investigations. With your completed education, you become the expert, the person of authority that would be in charge.

Most often, people that go into computer forensics have some idea of the type of job they want to do but what happens many times is that after graduation, the true scope of career opportunities is revealed. With so many organizations looking to hire someone with computer forensics training, you would have no problem securing the job you want and at a nice pay rate.

Your future could be changed in a positive way simply by completing computer forensics training. The certification or degree you now hold is your key to the future. Having completed the courses, you could work virtually anywhere you want.

This means you could work locally, nationally, or internationally. In addition, you could work for a smaller company or go to work for a Fortune 500 corporation, or even go to work for a government agency. No matter your choice, you would enjoy benefits of job security and lucrative income.

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How to Recognize and Remove a Computer Virus

A computer virus is basically a software program that somehow gets installed on your computer and usually causes from annoying to malicious things. How they get on to your computer is sometimes the mystery itself. In almost all the cases computer viruses actually get downloaded onto your computer by none other than you. Or at least someone using your computer.

Of course no one downloads the Virus on purpose and with any intent. In fact the user usually has no idea the attachment to the email they just opened or the file or program they just downloaded was infected with the virus. Think of it as someone having an STD. You would never know they were infected by talking to them or shaking their hand. Sometimes you don’t even know after you have engaged physically with this person. In fact there are even times the person who is infected himself doesn’t even know it!

But let’s get back to the subject of the computer virus!

The next question is how do you know you have one and what do you do to remove it.

Well one of the symptoms could be that your computer crashes in the middle of your work or freezes on you for no apparent reason. Of course this may happen on occasion anyways but you would know if the frequency has changed.

There may be unusual activity such as the mouse pointer suddenly moving without being touched, or the page you are on suddenly changes or the homepage within your browser changes by itself or other such unusual activities.

Other forms of computer infections include pop ups while you are browsing the internet. And yet some other ones will slow down your computer by sending loops of information through your Internet browser and back end systems on a continual basis.

Now once you suspect that you have a virus, how do you go about removing it?

Well the first thing is if you have an Anti Virus software already on your computer make sure that you have the latest updates. You can usually do this from within the antivirus software itself.

If you don’t have any Anti Virus software on your computer do some searches online and you can find a free version to or obviously can purchase one.

Once you get the Anti Virus on your computer, run a scan of your computer. At the end of the scan you are usually presented with two options. You can take the data that the program has filed and remove the infected file by deleting it, or you can have the program quarantine the file and therefore eliminating the infection.

If the problems persist after all of this, then it might be time to visit a computer technician.