These simple tips will help you stay virus and spyware free, even if you're connected to the internet 24 hours a day.
1. Protect yourself
Good protection on the Internet these days consists of 3 components: anti-virus software, anti-spyware software and a firewall.
Good virus protection doesn't need to cost you a fortune. You can get excellent free anti-virus software at http://www.grisoft.com. Even the professional version of their software is very affordable.
For spyware protection, go to http://www.lavasoft.de and download Ad-Aware SE Personal, also free. This will zap the most common spyware and adware found on the Internet.
As for a firewall, Windows XP ships with a decent enough firewall. Just make sure it is always enabled. Alternatively you can visit a site like http://www.download.com and search for Zone Alarm, which has an excellent free version.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you need to keep your anti-virus software up to date. An anti-virus program that uses definitions that are months old is just about useless.
Update your anti-virus and anti-spyware software at least once a week.
2. Stop opening every attachment you receive.
Most of the devastating worms and viruses of recent times were distributed via email. These viruses feed on the curiosity and also the ignorance of a huge number of email users. People will get an email from fakename@weirdsuspiciousdomain and they'll just open whatever file is attached to it.
If you don't know the sender, don't open the attachment – just delete it. It doesn't matter if the subject promises you'll see Britney Spears dancing nude on the kitchen table, just delete it.
If the email is from someone you know, always scan any attachments first before downloading or opening them.
If every email user in the world followed these simple guidelines the distribution of viruses via email will grind to a halt.
3. Stay clear of pornographic and illegal software sites
*I know, I know… Why on earth go on the Internet if you can't have your porn and download it too?! There are safe Porn sites but we will not address those in this blog… sorry.. Fark has some pretty good links to decent smutt.*
If you want to pick up viruses and spyware quickly, visit some pornographic web sites. One wrong click on a subtle little pop-up or security warning window (which you'll run into often on these type of sites) and you'll have infested yourself with trojan horses, spyware, dialers and other unfavorable software that could leave your computer wide open to further attacks.
The same goes for web sites distributing software, serial codes and cracks illegally (warez).
Simply put – keep out of the dark side of the web and the odds of keeping your computer clean shifts decidedly in your favor.
4. Watch out what you download
Spyware is embedded in a lot of software on the Internet – especially those related to ripping, converting and playing music and videos. That free MP3 player or DVD Ripper you just downloaded may have installed a bunch of harmful spyware without you even knowing about it.
5. Keep yourself informed
Major anti-virus software developers like Symantec and Grisoft updates their sites regularly with the latest virus alerts. Visit these sites frequently to keep yourself aware of what threats are doing the rounds and how to avoid them.
Using these simple and software I have kept my computer virus-free for the past 3 years. It's not rocket science. Just stay alert, use some common sense and you too can stay bug free while still enjoying your Internet experience.
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