In light of the recent "Sasser" worm and other online threats to your computer, I thought I'd share four basic steps to keeping your computer secure while on the Internet.
1) Windows Update - Make sure you download updates regularly from Microsoft to ensure your computer is protected. You can do this manually by going to Windows Update which will scan your computer for necessary software updates. You can also have your computer automatically download critical updates in Windows XP by going to the Start Menu > Settings > Control Panel > System > Automatic Updates tab.
2) Antivirus Software - There are two top choices for anti-virus software. These are Norton Antivirus and McAfee Virusscan. Both of these products are equally good and I've had both, but I think Norton is more user-friendly. Anti-virus software is subscription based, so you will have to renew your subscription each year to keep your computer protected.
3) Firewall - This used to be optional, but is now really required to have on your PC to protect it from "worms" and hackers. You may not know that Windows XP already comes with a basic firewall, but it isn't turned on by automatically, you have to enable it. Follow the instructions here to turn on your Windows XP firewall.
If you are on a network, like at work or school, then the Windows firewall may not allow you to print or share files across the network. If you need this, then try downloading ZoneAlarm, a free firewall that allows you to configure your firewall software for a network. Norton and McAfee also have firewall products available that are a little more user-friendly, but they cost money.
4) Anti-Spyware Software - Whether you know it or not, if you surf the web very much, even if you have anti-virus and a firewall installed, you can still get software called "Spyware" installed on your computer. This software is typically used to monitor your activity and serve popup ads and other junk on your PC (even if you aren't using a browser at the time). This can really slow your computer down and lead to all kinds of problems. To remove it you need to download and install "anti-spyware" software. Fortunately, the best anti-spyware software is FREE! Be very careful downloading anti-spyware on the web because sometimes it is actually "spyware" itself. However, there are two really good software programs that are safe and will remove most spyware on your computer. You will need to download and install both to find all the spyware on your PC. They are Spybot - Search and Destroy and Ad-aware. Once installed you will need to update their lists of spyware and then run a scan to detect and delete any spyware found. You need to re-scan manually on a regular basis. Here's a helpful article on getting rid of spyware.
These steps will help you to stay secure and avoid viruses, worms, spyware, and hackers. And it will protect your several hundred to several thousand dollar investment in your PC.
Peter Waite, Founder/Editor
HealingWell.com - Community, Information, Resources www.healingwell.com
Post Edited (Admin) : 9/20/2004 10:34:54 AM (GMT-6)