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Surf the Web without Worry

Background:  I received a call from a friend about his computer that I had cleaned of a virus and spyware infection about a week or two before.  His laptop was infected again.  I was very sure that I had cleaned it thoroughly, so I was curious how it had gotten infected again so quickly.  So I picked it up and instead of immediately starting the cleaning process again, I decided to find out how and when the infectious program(s) got into his computer because I wanted to make sure that my virus/spyware cleaning procedure wasn't letting any malicious software (malware) slip by undetected.
First, I tracked down the main program file of the malicious application.  This was one of those rogue antispyware applications that pops up and claims your computer is infected and if you just give them your credit card info, they will make it all better.  (note - DO NOT, under any circumstances, do this!  This will NOT make it better, it will just give the bad guys your credit card so they can go on a shopping spree, sometimes within minutes of getting your card #.)  So I looked at the creation date of this file and found that the file and folder it was in had been created the previous day at 2:28am.  I then went into his Internet Explorer browser history to try to track down what website he had gone to to get this infection so I could "educate" him as to what websites to avoid so he would not get infected again when and this is when I discovered the problem.
To be nice, let's just say that out of the about 100 websites that he visited over the past week, only about 10% of them did not have the words "porn, sex, adult, xxx...(you get the point)" in them.  This was a reality check for me that just telling some people to avoid these type of websites is not an option.  So I figured that I'd come up with a couple of things that can I have him do, to avoid getting infected, that's easy to do, while going to these type of websites that are clearly full of malicious software and bad guys trying to infect your computer.  Here is one way (I think one of the easiest ways) to "Surf the Web Without Worry":

Use this method for 2 main reasons:
1 - You want to surf anywhere on the web without worrying about infecting your computer.
2 - You want to go to secure or financial websites (banking, online ordering, etc) on a PC you think might be infected.

This will work with most desktops and laptops.  You'll need a PC wth a CD burner and a blank CD to burn the Linux Mint operating system CD.*

1 - Download Linux Mint.  Linux Mint is based on the popular Ubuntu operating system (not Microsoft Windows, but very similar in look and feel).

2 - Make/Burn the Linux Mint CD from the ISO file you downloaded in step #1.  Most PCs will burn it by just double-clicking on the ISO file, but if you need extra help, click here for step-by-step directions for how to burn a CD image.

3 - Shut down your PC.  Insert the Linux Mint CD into the drive.  Boot to the CD.  Most PCs will boot to the CD automatically, but you may have to press a key, such as F12, right after pressing the power button to choose the drive for your PC to boot to.  (If you do see a menu, select "Start Linux Mint")

Note:  Do NOT at any time select "INSTALL Linux Mint 8" as this may cause unwanted changes to your Windows operating system.

4 - Let your PC boot to the Linux Mint operating system (should take a couple minutes or so to get to the main desktop).  When it's booted up, Just Click Menu (lower left, where the Windows Start button usually is), then you can click on the Firefox Web Browser Icon or click on "All Applications" and choose from the many applications that are included.

5 - Surf away without worry! (practically)  You can be sure that you are web surfing in an environment that is free of any spyware or other malicious software (because nothing can infect your read-only CD where your operating system is booting from).

6 - When you are done surfing, just remove the CD, reboot your PC, and everything will be back to where it was before.




*Alternately, if you are unable to burn the Linux Mint CD, Discount Computer Service can burn one for you.  Just call or stop by (minimal service charge may apply).
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