Guide to Wireless and WiFi Systems

Wireless and Network Hardware

Wireless Access Point   

Wireless Access Points (WAP) act as a central transmitter and receiver of the Wireless radio signals for a network.
access point

Wireless router

Most modern small home Wireless routers act as a multi function device. It performs the functions of a “Wireless access point” described above, but also the functions of a “router” and a “network switch”.
A routers job (specifically basic home routers) is to simply pass data, such as web pages and email, between multiple home computers and the internet.
In addition many home routers have a built in DSL modem to connect to Internet services providers over a phone line.

Switch

A Network switch is a device that allows connection of multiple devices together, and allows the transfer of data between the attached devices.

Wireless network interface controller
   
Wireless network interface controllers (WNIC) are used to connect a computer or device to connects to a radio-based computer network.
In simple terms, it allows the connection of a device to a wireless access point.
So when a computer, video game console or smart phone has wireless built in, it has a one of these WNICs built in. Or it could be a USB stick.

WiFi Aerial   

Work in the same way as a TV antenna/aerial.
It is used to increase both the power of the signal being transmitted, and the strength of the signal received.

 

Types of Wireless Signals and Speeds

802.11b aka “B”   

+ lowest cost; signal range is good and not easily obstructed

– slowest maximum speed 11Mbps; home appliances may interfere

802.11a – “A”
   
+ fast maximum speed, 54Mbps; no signal interference from other devices

– highest cost; shorter range signal that is more easily obstructed

802.11g – “G”  

Fast maximum speed, 54-108Mbps; signal range is good and not easily obstructed
appliances may interfere with signal

802.11n “N”
   
Fastest maximum speed, 150-300Mbps, and best signal range; more resistant to signal interference from outside sources.

Bluetooth   

Bluetooth is a wireless technology for exchanging data over short distances. The chip can be plugged into computers, digital cameras and mobile phones.
Using a special radio frequency to transmit data, it creates a short range network. It is very secure and can connect up to eight devices (items of electronic equipment) at the same time.
Mainly used for mobile phones to communicate with each other, with computers and with wireless headsets.

 

Increasing Signal Strength and Range

Better Aerial   

Attaching a more powerful aerial to the access point will give out a stronger signal.
Attaching a more powerful aerial to the computer or device will let it pick up signals better.
Not all routers allow the aerial to be changed. So check your router has a detachable aerial before purchasing.
There are two main types

Omni-directional- Give out a signal in all directions.

Uni-directional – Aims a signal in one particular direction.

Uni-directional signals usual travel further but only in one direction.

Access point upgrade
   
Upgrade your access point or router to either something with MIMO technology which utilises multiple aerials to give a better signal, or to an N capable router.

To fully utilise a “N” capable router all wireless devices should be upgraded to N wireless.

Wireless Repeater
   
A wireless repeater bounces the wireless signal further. It works by receiving the wireless signal than transmitting it again.

It looks the same as an Access point and usually works as an access point too.

Additional Access point
   
If you have a secondary access point you have 2 devices giving a wireless signal. And by placing them in the right location and giving them each a different channel you can transmit over a far greater area than with just one.

The access point has to be connected by a network cable to the router.

You can add even more access points but they have to be setup in a way as not to interfere with each other.

Powerline Wireless   

Technically this is the same as adding an access point. Advantage is there is no need to have a network cable running from the access point all the way back to the router which can be difficult to install cleanly

Using powerline technology this is instead done over the mains cables.

You plug one unit next to the router and the other any where else in the home where you want a wireless signal.

Has your computer been infected? Are there popup windows on your screen asking for payment to clean your infected computer. Is the Metropolis police chasing you for browsing the internet? Or do you just want to check your computer for your peice of mind. Well we have 5 basic steps for you to take to help achieve a clean PC clear of viruses.

 

There’s only one way to guarantee a computer clean from all virus and bugs and that’s by doing a low level format of a hard disk and reinstalling Windows from scratch.

However the following steps can be taken for the vast majority of virus infections.

We do not recommend you follow these steps unless you are comfortable in using a computer as if something goes wrong or is performed incorrectly they can severely affect the running of the computer. Please make sure you have a backup of all your data before attempting any virus clean up

 

Step 1 – Clear all Junk Data

Windows leaves a lot of junk around when you use the computer and a lot of the time this is where bad files hide, so it is good to delete them, and it has the added bonus of speeding up virus scans as there are less files to go through.
 
There are ways to do this manually but generally it is a bit long winded to go through all the options so we recommend CCleaner to do it all for us.

  •  Download, install and run CCleaner.
  •  On the left hand side select the “Cleaner” tab.
  •  Deselect cookies for your browser if you want to keep your user name and password history. Also make sure the recycle bin does not have anything you need.
  •  Now simply click on “Run Cleaner” at the bottom right hand side.
  •  When it finishes just close CCleaner.

Step 2 – Malwarebytes Anti-Malware

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free utilises Malwarebytes powerful technology to detect and remove all traces of malware including worms, trojans, rootkits, rogues, dialers, spyware and more.

  • Download, install and run Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free
  • Make sure you are connected to the Internet and let the program update.
  • Select “Perform a Full scan” then click on “Scan” and give it about 30 minutes to 1 hour to complete. Longer if you have a lot of files.
  • On completion of the scan make sure all items on the list are ticked and click remove items. Restart windows if it asks you.
  • In some scenarios where you are unable to run or Install Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, try and attempt the following Step 3  before attempting this step.
  • If neither work, then Windows has been affected and we would need more specific symptoms to advise you how to proceed. So feel free to contact us for any questions.

 Step 3 – Combofix

Combofix is a freeware program designed to scan a computer for known malware, spyware and remove them. Be very careful when using this specific program.

  • Download Combofix from bleepingcomputer.com website
  • Close or disable all running Antivirus, Antispyware, and Firewall programs as they may interfere with the proper running of ComboFix. Instructions on disabling these type of programs can be found again at Bleepingcomputer.com
  • Run combofix by clicking on the downloaded combofix.exe file then clicking on “Run”. Follow the steps making sure you read the disclaimer. If it asks you to install Microsoft recovery do so.
  • When this is completed a blue screen should come up saying “Scanning for infected files”
  • Now do not touch the computer until you see a log.txt file pop up. this indicates combofix has completed.
  • Make sure to re-enable your Anti-virus program

 Step 4 – Run a Full System Anti-Virus Scan

  • Load your Anti-Virus program. We recommend avast! Free Antivirus for the free option and Norton Antivirus for paid for antivirus software.
  • Check for updates for both the program updates and the virus definition updates, download if necessary.
  • After you have fully updated your Anti-virus program, run a full system scan.
  • On completion confirm that all infections have been removed.

 Step 5 – AdwCleaner

  • Download AdwCleaner from bleepingcomputer.com
  • Make sure all other programns are closed and click “Search” and wait to see file list.
  • Close file list and click delete
  • Computer will restart

 Still Having Virus Problems?

If you feel these steps have not cleared your computer fully please contact us with symptoms you may still have. There are many other scanning programs but they tend to be more target specific so we need to know more so please call us on 0207 22 11 355, or email us at [email protected]

Viruses are a massive nuisance. At best they disrupt or slow down the use of your computer, and at worst steal or corrupt your data. It is important to remain vigilant in keeping your computer secure from these threats. What follows are basic essential steps to take to maintain a high level of security for your computer.

 Step 1 – Update Windows Regularly.

Microsoft regularly provides updates for Windows and its other software, such as Microsoft Office, to not only fix issues, but also to block security holes that can be exploited by viruses or hackers.

These updates are mostly done automatically but you should be vigilant and check that they have been carried out.

For Windows XP Users
In Internet Explorer select “Tools” then “Windows Update”.
This takes you to the Windows update website. Install any software that it asks of you and then you get the options for “Express” or “Custom” setup.
Express setup will give you the simplest solution to update every important update, whilst “Custom” you can choose which updates and add some recommended updates too.

For Windows 7 or Vista users
Go to Control Panel which should be in the start menu. Select “System and Security” followed by “Windows Update”. If you have any updates waiting for you it will have the option to “Install updates”. If it doesn’t, click on “Check for updates” then if necessary install any new important updates.

 

Step 2 – Latest Anti-Virus Program

Try and have the latest Anti-Virus Program. Do not just renew your subscription to your antivirus and keep using the outdated software. Since you are technically paying for the license, it will cost the same to get the new version of the Antivirus.

So try and update the program to the latest version (i.e. currently 2012) as that is the one that works best against the current crop of bugs and hackers.

If you have bought a 2010 Anti-Virus and you still have a few months to go, most companies allow you to use that same code and use up your remaining time on the new 2012 version.

Step 3 – Update your Anti-Virus

Keep your Anti-Virus program updated

Don’t rely on the automatic updates. Open the Anti-Virus program, check when the last update was performed and if necessary check for updates manually. Make sure the program and the virus definitions are both constantly updated.

 

Step 4 – Update all Software

Try to keep all your software updated

Every program nowadays has an online connection, which can mean a gateway for spyware adware etc to get in.

This is mostly true for browsers. So make sure you have the latest version of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome or safari installed.

Microsoft Office is a program that also needs regular updates. These can be checked alongside the Windows updates mentioned above.

Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI) is a utility that can check which programs you have on your computer that need updating.

Step 5 – Be careful of e-mail links.

Don’t click on links sent to you by e-mail

Even if you receive an e-mail from a friend or what looks like your bank, or facebook try and avoid clicking on the link in that e-mail as this is a common way for malicious website to hook you in.
Go through the browser, and type in the websites name in directly.

 

Step 6 – Avoid Bad websites.

Avoid the obvious “warez” sites, adult sites, piracy sites and file sharing sites. Any website where you get a continuous number of pop up pages on any link you press or is generally bad and should be avoided.

 

Step 7 – Be careful when installing Programs

Always research any programs you wish to install. Do not install a program just because it appears to suit your needs. If it is a good program there will be many reviews and recommendations.

 

Step 8 – Avoid Clicking Popup adverts

Avoid clicking on pop up advertisements. If you’re careful and you know the website is legitimate then it can be okay, but a lot of the time they’re not and are to be avoided. Specifically ones that say they will improve your computer. Avoid installation of all registry repair software, at best it’s pretty useless, and at worse a waste of money and a trojan virus.

 

Step 9 – Be Vigilant

If you get a windows pop up that looks like it’s scanning your hard drive for viruses or errors, yet you have never seen this program before close it instantly. Do not click on anything else. If it refuses to close, bring up task manager by pressing “Ctrl+Shift+Esc”, select the dodgy program in the Applications list and click on “End Process”. Run a virus scan to make sure nothing leaked in.

 

Step 10 – Run Virus cleanup regularly.

Most antivirus programs have a scheduler that will schedule a regular scan of your computer. Make sure this is enabled, and check regularly to see if it has been run.

Plus follow the steps in our Virus removal guide even if it doesn’t appear that you have a virus. This will make sure that your system is completely clean.

 

Let us start by first explaining the term “Malware”. Malware, short for Malicious Software, is the general term used to mean a variety of forms of hostile, intrusive, or annoying software or program code.

Malware includes viruses, worms, Trojan horses, spyware, adware scareware, crimeware and root kits.

Virus  

The term computer virus is used for a program that has infected software and when this software is run, it causes the virus to spread to other software. Viruses may also contain an additional malicious action that affects your computer, called a “payload”.

Payload

In terms of computer malware, a payload is the malicious harmful action that the malware will perform on your computer.

A virus on its own is just a method of spreading, it’s the payload within it that carries out the malicious action which can include deleting your files, giving hackers access to your computer, or load Rogue Security Software.

Worm

A program that actively transmits itself over a network to infect other computers without the need for user input. It too may carry a payload

Trojan horse

Is any program that invites the user to run it, concealing a harmful payload. It can be disguised as something innocuous or desirable, users may be tempted to install it without knowing what it does

Backdoors

A backdoor is a method of bypassing normal authentication procedures. Once a system has been compromised by a virus, worm or Trojan, one or more backdoors may be installed in order to allow easier access in the future. Hackers typically use backdoors to give them full access to a computer.

Rogue Security Software

Is a form of malware that misleads users into paying for the fake or simulated removal of malware, or that installs other malware. Rogue security software, in recent years, has become a growing and serious security threat in desktop computing.

Why do people create Malware and Viruses?

  1. To take control of a computer and use it for specific tasks such as sending spam anonymously or to use multiple computer to send a Denial of Service attack against corporations taking down their computer systems as seen recently with the credit card companies.
  2. Make money by tricking people into thinking you’re purchasing a useful utlity such as an Anti-virus. Very common these days.
  3. Steal sensitive information such as credit card numbers and passwords, or personal details for identity theft.
  4. To prove they can do it. Taking down microsoft is a big deal to a programmer, and Microsoft os the biggest target so it is attacked constantly, sometimes just to prove a point.

How to protect yourself against viruses and other malware?

Your biggest weapon against Viruses is common sense. Do not open random emails, avoid visiting irreputable websites or websites that deal with piracy, illegal downloads, adult content and gambling. for a full guide please visit our 10 Step Guide to Protect Against Viruses.

 

With all the different types of hardware, programs and millions of Viruses and bugs Windows needs a lot of maintenance. But with some common sense and a bit of effort every now and again, you can avoid majority of the pitfalls and have a reliable, fast experience with Windows. So follow our 10 step guide to maintaining Windows.

We would also recommend our “Protecting Against Viruses” section to help reduce the need for maintenance.

 
Step 1 – Update Windows Regularly.

Microsoft regularly provides updates for Windows and its other software, such as Microsoft Office, to fix stability issues, block security holes and add extra features.

These updates are mostly done automatically but you should check that they have been carried out. .

For Windows XP Users
In Internet Explorer select “Tools” then “Windows Update”.
This takes you to the Windows update website. Install any software that it asks of you and then you get the options for “Express” or “Custom” setup.
Express setup will give you the simplest solution to update every important update, whilst “Custom” you can choose which updates and add some recommended updates too.

For Windows 7 or Vista users
Go to Control Panel which should be in the start menu. Select “System and Security” followed by “Windows Update”. If you have any updates waiting for you it will have the option to “Install updates”. If it doesn’t, click on “Check for updates” then if necessary install any new important updates.

Step 2- Update your Anti-Virus and run scans.

Keep your Anti-Virus program updated and make sure that Scheduled weekly scanning is enabled and regularly check that scans have been run.

Don’t rely on the automatic updates. Open the Anti-Virus program, check when the last update was performed and if necessary check for updates manually. Make sure the program and the virus definitions are constantly updated.

Most antivirus programs have a scheduler that will schedule a regular scan of your computer. Make sure this is enabled, and check regularly to see if it has been run.

Also install and run scan using Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free. Make sure it is fully updated before running a scan. Clean o

 

Step 3- Update all Software & Drivers

Try to keep all your software updated to fix stability and security issues.

So make sure you have the latest version of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome or safari installed and that Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader are fully updated.

Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI) is a utility that can check which programs you have on your computer that need updating.

Drivers can be a bit tricky and not as essential unless you are having problems. But go to the manufacturer of your computers website and there will be a section for downloads. Type in your computers model number and you should get a list of all the latest drivers for your computer which you can install.
I would avoid installing the BIOS updates unless you know what you are doing.

 

Step 4 – Uninstall Unnecessary programs

IF you have stopped using a program, uninstall it.

Even if you feel you have plenty of space on your hard drive, many programs still take up system resources without you even using the program and can slow down your computer. So go to “uninstall a program” in control panel, go through your installed programs list and remove ones you know you don’t need.

Programs you are not sure of, I would recommend finding out what they do before uninstalling as they could be important to the system.

 

Step 5- Stop startup programs

Only essential start up program is your Anti-virus or Internet Security program, yet when you load up your startup list, there could be over 20 programs.

This is for programs where we do not want to uninstall them because we still use them, but they don’t need to start with, and slow down, Windows.

Click on Start and type “MSCONFIG” (for windows XP, click on Run first)

System Configuration box should appear. Select the “Startup” tab at the top.

Go through the list and deselect any programs you are personally sure you do not need to start with windows. for example Skype or Adobe Reader.

If you are not sure, either first look it up online, or just simply re-enable it if you later find out you need it.

 

Step 6 – Clear all unnecessary Data

Internet Cache, temporary internet files, temporary program installation files, deleted files etc. Windows leaves a lot of junk around when you use the computer and a lot of the time this is where bad files hide, so it is good to delete them.

There are ways to do this manually but generally it is a bit long winded to go through all the options so we recommend CCleaner to do it all for us.

So download, install then run CCleaner.

On the left hand side select the “Cleaner” tab.
During its installation it would have run a scan for your cookies so it doesn’t delete important ones. If you want to have full control over this remove the tick next to Cookies for your internet browser. Also make sure the recycle bin does not have anything you need.

Now simply click on “Run Cleaner” at the bottom right hand side.

There is also a Registry cleaner included in CCleaner. Registry cleaning doesn’t really affect system performance too much, if at all, but it does clear old and unnecessary entries. So use the Registry cleaner occasionally.

 

Step 7 – Defragment Hard disk

Fragmentation of a disk is when files are divided into pieces scattered around the disk. Fragmentation occurs naturally when you use a disk frequently, creating, deleting, and modifying files. It can slow down the speed at which data s accessed because the disk drive must search through different parts of the disk to put together a single file.

Defragmenting reduces the amount of fragmentation, making the disk drive work more efficiently and access data quicker, making your system quicker.

Disk Defragment is included in Windows. Just open up and run once a month or every 3 months.

Do not run Disk Defragmentation software if you have a SSD (solid state drive) hard disk as they do not suffer from fragmentation and defragmenting it will just wear it down.

Step 8 – Remove Duplicates

Whilst duplicate files don’t affect system speed, they do take up space and also slow your work down if you need to access or edit the files.

Luckily there are plenty of programs that will do the search for you. One recommendation is Duplicate cleaner by Digital Volcano.

Very straightforward, just set which folder you want to scan and let it do the work. After the scan completes the scan you can delete or move any duplicates.

Step 9 – Do not install Unnecessary programs

In general you do not need and should not install registry cleaner programs, explorer toolbars, system optimisers, ram optimisers etc.

When installing Free programs, even ones we recommend you will get the option to install these additional programs. This is switched on by default, it is how they make their money, but it will generally have a negative effect on your computer, with few exceptions.

So do not just click next continuously when installing programs, and make sure to choose not to install these programs.

 

Step 10 – System Restore.

System Restore is a very useful feature in Windows where if there are changes which you feel are bad for windows, you can put Windows back in time to the way it was before without losing any actual files.

It will usually activate when you install a new program or driver, but it is a good habit to set a restore point yourself.

Option to create a system restore point is under Control Panel -> System and Security -> System -> System Protection.