Its War I Tell You!

There are ways to insure security though. You can get the Windows Update CD from Microsoft and install that before you get online, You can also get most Antivirus Definitions downloaded and save them to disk, then install those before you go online, (of course you have to be using that Product in the first place), and you can get Anti-Spyware on a disk and do the same. But how many people do that in their excitement to take their new computer out of the box and hook it and see what it will do? Sans Internet Storm Center says those people will have their computer infected with adware or worse in less than 20 minutes! Virgin computers online are an easy target, open to attack. When that person soon realizes their brand new computer is sick, first comes the shock, then the anger, then the question; how do I fix it? If the new computer owner is lucky they can fix it fairly cheaply. It might involve a lot of time listening to elevator music while you're in the hold queue?. either way it's no fun.

Education is what's needed here folks.

In this article I plan on touching on simple easy steps you can take to keep your computer happy and safe.

First let's talk about your online connection itself. Dialup, Satellite, DSL, whatever you have, make sure they are secure. Call them and ask them. What kind of Security do they employ to keep your Web surfing secure? Most often they have the info at their site, usually in their 'Privacy Policy".

Ok, now the Browser part. A touchy subject with many. I use Firefox mostly and Internet Explorer only when I have to. Unless you've been living in a hole you know IE has its vulnerabilities. I have nothing against IE folks, it just gets targeted so much because that's what people use most. Hackers, Spammers, Phishers, and the rest know this and swarm like sharks. Firefox has its problems too since now they are getting noticed and thus are having to work harder too at keeping their browser safe too. Whatever you use, keep it updated. Whatever you use, get some monitoring software, like Bigfix or Winpatrol. Learn how they work and you'll be a happy web surfer.

While we're talking about software products, let's think about what you do online. There are many Products out there that try and cover all aspects of protecting your computer, but it's hard to write software though to do all that. I've found a mixture of products do well for me. Right now I use Win patrol, Sygate Firewall, and Avast Antivirus with Ad-Aware SE to cover my bases, but what works for me may not work for you. So how do you find the right combination?. or if you're lucky the single product that will do the job? Education. Pure and simple. You have to become educated in what is going on out there on the World Wide Web and be prepared for it. We're not talking a lot of money either in most cases for this knowledge and help... there are some great products out there that are free! The Web is diverse, with forums, blogs, instant messaging, video conferencing, and of course websites, especially the new XXX ones. Each has its own uniqueness as far as vulnerabilities. Whatever your preference, make sure you're safe.

Chances are though, you'll pick up some spyware. It's hard for the hardware and software suppliers to keep up to the minute patches available, although I've seen patches available in less then 3 hours from some suppliers. Hopefully what gets you will be harmless, just annoying. This kind just puts a cookie on your computer and tracks you as you go from website to website, with marketing info as what they are after. But some Spyware can be nasty! They log your keystrokes, and this means your logins, passwords and credit card numbers.

And now for Email.

How the human race ever did without email we may never know. Its one of the greatest convieniences ever and what a timesaver! You don't need a stamp and there's no dash to the mailbox in the rain, but as always, along with the good comes the bad. People claim in e-mails simple requests, for example, "They just want to use your bank account to put money in, or will you to open this attachment, and please just click on this URL !" Spammers, Hookers, Phishers, Oh My! My advice, scan anything that is not from someone you know with Anti-virus. Never click on a URL from your Bank, go directly to your bank's website yourself from your Browser. Check to see if your mail program has an option to warn you if there is anything in the email that may be a virus, like in Outlook Express. It can be inconvenient sometimes, but worth it. Some of the better web based services like Yahoo have a junk mail folder that helps immensely?. I never even open the folder, I just delete the contents everyday.

Remember, you need to become educated if you're going to be on the Internet. I hope to see in my lifetime the end of Spyware.

About the Author:
Doug Woodall has a website at

There he provides free information and recommended products to combat Spyware.

He is a member of the IWA (International Webmasters Association)

Doug can be reached at [email protected]

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