Keeping Your Computer Safe: Steps Everyone Should Take

Defending your computer from threats against it and those who misuse their ability to create viruses and worms used to be as simple as not opening email from addresses which you didn’t recognize. Unfortunately, in the last two decades, keeping your computer safe has become much more complicated. Whether you’re hearing about massive corporations having their databases hacked and stolen or you’re just dealing with a stubborn virus you got from a webpage, it can be an almost constant concern. If you’re worried about keeping your computer a pristine sanctuary for your data, untouched by life-disrupting security or virus problems, then you should be following several steps to make sure you’re protected. These are simple habits which everyone should develop.

Never Disable Your Computer’s Firewall

Your computer’s firewall is the first and most important line of defense between you and the scary world of the open Internet. Its job is to basically be the policeman who oversees all of the traffic that enters and leaves your computer over the network, and it uses a set of rules to block or accept those connections. A firewall prevents someone from making an unauthorized connection to your machine through which they could hijack your operating system. If you’re using Windows, you’re probably familiar with this as Windows Firewall. Under no circumstances should you disable it while you are connected to the Internet, as this makes you a large and vulnerable target. There are even good quality third-party firewalls available for download that will get you an added layer of security and an additional sense of peace about the integrity of your system.

Good Antivirus Software is Not Just Optional

Protect Your Computer
Protect Your Computer
If you’ve been dealing with the antivirus software that came preinstalled on your machine and simply think it’s “good enough,” you need to take a more proactive stance towards antivirus protection. Viruses and computer worms are changing all the time, and hackers are constantly on the hunt for new ways to break into your computer and enter your files to steal personal information. You should do some research online to discover which antivirus software will suit your needs the best. There are plenty of programs which are available completely for free that will provide more than adequate protection. Once you’ve gotten your antivirus software installed, be sure that you schedule regular full system scans in order to maintain your security, and be vigilant about keeping the definitions file updated so it knows what to look for.

Don’t Open Strange or Suspicious Files

Avoid Suspicious Files
Avoid Suspicious Files
This is one of the oldest rules for keeping your computer safe, and it’s just as relevant today as it was in the early days of computers and the Internet. Avoid using sites that host illegal downloads of movies, music, or software, as these files are often packaged with malware, spyware, or Trojan horse viruses which can really ruin your day and your computer. If an email lands in your inbox from a friend with an attachment that you weren’t expecting, you should probably contact your acquaintance and ask them if it’s safe to open first. If a website automatically makes your browser download an executable file, you should delete it immediately. Do not ever run executable files you don’t trust, and especially not if they aren’t official installers for some software. You could be about to launch a virus willingly. Practice good judgment and common sense when it comes to what you open on your computer.

Always Connect to the Internet Securely

While it can certainly be tempting to connect to the Internet over an open wireless network, this isn’t always the best idea. By connecting to the network, you are allowing the network router some level of access to your machine. A malicious computer user could potentially set up an open network as a “honeypot” to attract unsuspecting users who are just looking for a quick and free way to connect to the Internet. This user could then hijack your machine or install a virus onto it over the network, and there’s no way you would be able to disconnect yourself in time. Always be sure to only connect to the Internet via connections that you can trust, and only use open networks if they are freely provided for you, such as at a restaurant or other establishment. Additionally, always ensure you have your entire security package set up before using public Internet. This means ensuring your firewall and antivirus software is running and up to date. With a little bit of attention, you’ll be able to keep yourself safe and secure. Go Here To Learn how to Securely Use The Web.

How to Rid Your Computer of Troublesome Malware

Keeping your computer in good working order is a priority that just about everybody shares. After all, it is the central hub for a lot of your life: entertainment, communication, and even employment for some individuals. You might even want to think of it like your own body. When you’re feeling good, you can get a lot done. However, when you get sick, you start to feel worn down and it’s much harder for you to accomplish the same things you want to. This is how it works with computers as well. Even though we all try to keep malware off of our machines, sometimes it slips through and infects our computers. Then they don’t work so well! What can you do?

Just like you would go to a doctor for some medicine in real life, you need to find out the right kind of medicine that your computer needs. It’s important for you to get things sorted out and fixed as quickly as possible. You don’t want the malware to do any lasting damage to your PC, after all! Below, we’ll give you a quick rundown on everything that needs to be done in order to cure your PC of what ails it. Let’s take a look.

Start By Running an Anti-Malware Program

Running An Anti-Malware Program Is The First Step
Running An Anti-Malware Program Is The First Step
First things first: you’re going to want to turn to one of the most trusted anti-malware programs out there on the market to get the job done. Don’t run your antivirus first. You don’t want to do that. Instead, break out your anti-malware utility, such as Malware Bytes Anti-Malware. That kind of heavy duty software can only get be installed even when a hostile program is trying to block it, but it should remove just about everything that you could have possibly infected yourself with. Just set it up to do a deep scan and step away to let it run. With some luck, by the time you’re back, everything will be fixed up again.

Then Bust Out Your Antivirus Software Too

Now that your malware program has finished running, you’re going to want to make sure that there weren’t any residual nasty programs left behind by the malware. Sometimes one infection can lead to several others, such as a bunch of viruses getting into your computer. It’s safer now for you to go ahead and run your antivirus software. Make sure that you set it up to do a deep scan as well. You don’t want to miss anything that could be lurking. After all, your files are important and you need to keep them safe.

Don’t Forget to Try a System Restore

If you find that you are still having some problems are doing both of those things, then you’re going to want to start breaking out the more heavy duty guns. If you’re running a Windows machine, why not try running a system restore? This will revert your computer back to a state before you got the infection. More often than not, it can actually heal a lot of damage that has been done to your system by malware. This is a pretty big step, so only commit to doing this if you are really having some issues.

Reformat and Reinstall If You Have To

In the absolute worst case scenarios, you’re not going to be able to fix the problem with any of the above three remedies. That can be really disheartening, and you might be afraid of what comes next. Unfortunately, it means that you are probably going to have to reformat your entire hard drive, and then reinstall your operating system. It’s not going to be easy, and in fact, you might get pretty annoyed at having to do it. However, it will definitely nuke the malware on your system for good. You don’t want to have to live with a nasty virus or ad program living on your computer.

6 Things to Avoid When Photoshopping Pictures

When you first get into Photoshopping you may go a little crazy and start to do just about anything to a picture. You may think that what comes from it is a pure work of art, but more often than not you’ll find that your mashup of new skills makes your picture look cheap and definitely amateur. We all make these types of mistakes, but now it’s time for you to learn from them. When you start to mess around with Photoshopping pictures, you’re going to want to avoid these six mistakes.

Extractions

A Newbie At Photoshop
A Newbie At Photoshop
When you’re dealing with a picture that doesn’t have the background that you want you might be tempted to take the subject and put it with something that agrees a bit better. Your instincts are right, but the moment that you reach for that lasso or quick select tool you’ve made a mistake. They both technically work, but the problem is that they’re just not precise enough. You end up getting edges that aren’t quite right and obvious outlines that give away your shopping job. Instead use the pen tool. It can take a little while to learn, but once you do you’ll get seamless edges.

Colors

It can be a wonderful experience to use gradients and altering techniques to enhance or change a photo, but if you overdo it it points out that you’re new at this. There’s always that one person who thinks that highlighting every red item in a picture and turning everything else black and white is art. Then they take that red and way oversaturate it. It looks odd and amateur. If you choose to add a rainbow gradient and use all of the colors you’re only going to hurt someone’s eyes. Stick to colors that would naturally appear in the picture. You can saturate them, just make sure that it isn’t overdone.

The Problem with Your Black…

Black is obviously going to show up when you’re photo shopping and you may think it an easy fix to simply set it to K=100. This totally works for text, but as soon as you apply it to a larger area you’re going to see that it turns out dark grey. You think that people won’t notice, but they will. The eye can pick up the lack of depth. You want to tweak it to a richer black, something like C= 75 M= 68 Y= 67 K= 90. This will give you a very true, very dark black.

Logos

Many people try to use Photoshop to create logos for their company or someone else’s. Eventually you’ll find out on your own that when you’re using this program for that function you’ll lose some clarity and ratios as you mess with it. That’s because logos really should be done in a program like Illustrator. Illustrator is a vector-based program that retains its clarity as you scale them. This makes it much easier to get a professional looking logo by the end of your project.

Shortcuts

When you first start it’s totally fine for you to use the mouse and click on whatever tool you’ll be needing. But eventually you should start to notice that these tools have shortcuts attached to them. These shortcuts cut your working time down drastically. You won’t have to move your mouse from the area that you’re working on just to click something else. That interrupts your line of movement as well as takes your eyes away from what you’re working on. The shortcuts aren’t just there for time, though. They also can add some functionality to whatever tool it is that you’re using. Use the ones assigned or create your own under the Edit menu.

Layers

Layers are Complicated To Handle
Layers are Complicated To Handle
The granddaddy of all new photoshopper mistakes is not using the layering system. It’s there for a reason, and truthfully is one of the first things you should get comfortable working with. When you avoid using layers you’re just going to create problems for yourself later on. Every time you start to edit a certain aspect you should add a new layer and label it correctly. That way later on if you want to enhance a shadow on someone’s face you simply go to that layer and edit it. If you didn’t do that it would be a giant pain having to erase and then recreate the other changes that you’ve made. Save those layers in appropriately labeled folders and you’ll thank your past self.