Afterword

ThimphuTech was the first technology blog in Bhutan. We started writing it in 2009, just as broadband and mobile internet started to take off. (Although internet in Bhutan was launched in 1999, it was either super-slow or super-expensive, and was only used by a selected few).

In the blog, we wrote about technology and food, but also about plenty of other stuff. The blog became popular and influential in Bhutan. A companion bi-weekly column -- Ask Boaz -- was published for many years in the Kuensel, Bhutan's national newspaper. (The complete Kuensel columns are available as an ebook, Blogging with Dragons).

We stopped updating the blog when we left Bhutan in 2014, but the information within the posts can still prove useful, and thus we decided to keep it online.

We thank all our readers.
Tashi Delek,
Boaz & Galit.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Disinfecting computers (K2 #6)

Question of the Week
My computer is acting very strangely lately. Internet Explorer opens windows with random websites. Is this a virus? What can I do? -- Kinley, P/ling
I have a HP Pavilion laptop. Can you suggest a good and powerful anti-virus to keep my laptop safe. How can I avail the anti-virus? -- Sonam Lhamo


Answer
When windows pop up at random on your screen, some malicious software is running on your computer. A virus has most likely infected your hard disk. This is quite an annoyance, and can also be a serious security threat. One thing to try is scanning your hard disk using antivirus software - this can sometimes disinfect your computer. However, many viruses are quite difficult to remove. When this is the case, you will need to reformat your hard disk and reinstall Windows. Before reformatting, remember to back up your documents, photos and other important files. After reformatting, follow these steps to keep your computer clean and safe:

  1. Install and run antivirus software. Among the free software, I recommend avast! Free Antivirus, which you can download at www.avast.com. Antivirus software is usually better at prevention than cure, so it's better to install the software on a clean system.
  2. Enable Automatic Updates, a free service from Microsoft that eliminates Windows vulnerabilities. In Windows 7 and Vista, Click Start, type Windows update in the search box, and then click Windows Update. Make sure automatic updates are turned on.
    In Windows XP, Click Start, click Run, type sysdm.cpl, and then press ENTER. Find and click the Automatic Updates tab, and then select the Automatic (recommended) Automatically download recommended updates for my computer and install them option.
  3. Dump Internet Explorer, the default web browser that is included with Windows. It is bulky, slow and less secure than other browsers, such as Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome. I highly recommend switching to Google Chrome. It is free, speedy and safe. Download at chrome.google.com
  4. Disable the pen drive. Most viruses in Bhutan are spread when an infected pen drive is inserted into your computer. By disabling all pen drives on your computer, you will eliminate 99% of all infections. Download and run the USB disabler at http://tinyurl.com/DisablePenDrive. You can also use the utility to re-enable the pen drive, but do this only when you're 100% sure the inserted pen drive is not infected.
  5. Be extremely careful when downloading file attachments, even when the email comes from a familiar address. Viruses can easily be transmitted using email attachments. When you receive an email with a file attachment, carefully check the extension of the file before downloading. Only download files with familiar extensions such as photos (.jpg, .gif), Office files (.doc, .docx, .ppt, .pptx, .xls, .xlsx), or Acrobat reader files (.pdf). Be careful not to download and open files with other extensions.
  6. Activate the computer's guest account to be used when friends and family use your computer. A guest account has less privileges on the computer, and can cause less harm. To enable the guest account on Windows XP, see http://tinyurl.com/GuestAccountXP. For Windows 7 and Vista, see http://tinyurl.com/GuestAccount7.
Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to boaz@thimphutech.com