The Internet is a wondrous place, with information at your fingertips for anything your mind can dream up. While there are those out there to share their knowledge, to enrich your on-line experience. There are also those out there, who wish to prey upon your computer for numerous different nefarious reasons.
There are a number of ways to protect yourself, the first step you should take is to stop using Internet Explorer. While no browser is perfect, the Internet Explorer is a largest target due to it being included with every copy of Windows since Windows 95 giving it the largest install base of any browser. The less tech savvy will generally use this instead of another browser, making it a far more attractive target.. Another reason is that Microsoft is generally slow to fix security holes unless they are a pressing issue. Instead they will wait till their normal patch day, the second Tuesday of the month, to patch any flaws. This can possibly leave the users open to attack for a rather long time.
The solution to this is to look into an alternative browser. I use Firefox, It is an open source browser that has gained wide support across the web. This means that anyone can see the code it is written with, allowing for identification and fixing of bugs rather quickly. While it does have a smaller market share than Internet Explorer, it has been widely accepted and widely supported across the web. If Firefox isn’t for you, other popular alternatives are Opera, Chrome, and Safari.
When browsing the web, sticking to sites popular sites will drastically reduce your chances of something nasty happening to your computer. While I dare not say it will be impossible, sites do get high-jacked, it will cut down your chances of injection greatly. Sites are generally popular for a reason, if a site starts infecting computers it will lose popularity really fast. Browsing around more shady websites is generally asking for trouble, and is best avoided if all possible.
Speaking of infections, having an Anti-Virus is key for computer safety. There are a great number of choices, but no one catches everything. For free Anti-Virus software there are three top choices, AVG, Avast!, and Avira. They all offer a paid version which is a little more thorough in scans, but I have always found the free version to be adequate for day to day use. When choosing an anti-virus, I cannot stress enough to read reviews. No anti-virus is perfect protection, however some are better than others. A new version of one may fix an issue to make it far superior than others. Also once you have your anti-virus, update it frequently if you much turn off auto updates.
Adopting safer e-mail habits will also help protect you from attacks. Virus programmers use social engineering to spread their viruses, by disguising them as things you may wish to open. One example would be a e-mail from a friend or family member.. Treat e-mails with attachments to them with suspension, even from those you know. Some viruses send themselves out through address books of the infected machine. Were you expecting an attachment from your friend? If you’re unsure, it is best to error on the side of cation rather than risking your system’s security.Try contacting the person who sent it to see if it really is something they wanted you to have.
One last tip is to make a backup of the files you must have, music, pictures, and important documents often. Should the worst happen, in which you must wipe your system and start from scratch. You will be kicking yourself if you did not make regular backups of important files. Backups should be, at the very minimum, made every few weeks with two copies of the files made. These can be copied to a thumb drive, burnt to DVD, or copied to a spare hard drive depending on size needed for the backup. I suggest keep one copy locally, with the other in a remote, yet secure, location. This can be a safety deposit box, website to upload to, or a trusted friend for example. The reason for the off site copy is should something happen which would destroy the backup, such as a fire. Should something like this happen, your data will still be safe.
While computer security can be a daunting subject. If you adopt some safe computing habits, and learn how to protect yourself, it quickly becomes almost second nature. Giving you not only a safe computer, but a better time on line.