Staying Safe on the Internet

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

staying safe on the internet
Several friends and my wife have fallen victim to Internet hackers, viruses and spyware recently. While there is no 100% guarantee against becoming a victim yourself, I have some proven methods to make yourself virtually immune to these kinds of things. I am no expert, but since I have incorporated these steps I have enjoyed hassle-free Internet browsing. Here are 10 basic steps everyone needs to follow and they are all FREE. You should never have to pay to be safe. These are just my opinion, but by following these 10 steps I have been virus free and have never been hijacked or hacked.

#1 - Stop using Internet Explorer immediately. Regardless of what Microsoft claims, Internet Explorer is the worst browser ever created and you need to avoid it like the plague. I highly recommend using Mozilla Firefox as your sole browser. It is free and very secure. Make sure you download the NoScript and Adblock Plus plugins and you are all set. These automatically update to keep you protected against new threats. This browser with these plugins block scripts from running on pages you open. You can allow scripts to run on trusted pages and even only allow specific scripts on specific sites. Also, use the Pop-up Blocker feature at all times. NEVER surf the net without this!

#2 - Use your firewall at all times. Not using a firewall is like leaving the keys in your car with the doors unlocked and a note on the windshield that says, "Please steal me!" Don't pay for a firewall. You will be throwing your money away if you do. If you don't like the standard windows firewall ZoneAlarm has a great free firewall that gives you a lot of flexibility.

#3 - Stop paying for Anti-virus software now! MacAfee and Norton are huge ripoffs and are not effective. I actually believe they leave you vulnerable on purpose to keep you dependent upon them. Delete these from your computer and download AVG Anti-virus Free. It is free, updates automatically, and I have never had a virus since I installed this free, yes free, software. Setup weekly automatic scans. AVG not only protects against viruses, it also detects and removes spyware that bogs down your computer. It actively monitors your computer and scans your emails and will automatically remove anything that shouldn't be there.

#4 - Install CCleaner and use it regularly. It is free and safely erases temporary Internet files, cookies, Internet history, etc that just take up memory and slow your computer down. There is also some handy tools in CCleaner that allow you to clean your registry and remove unwanted programs from your startup menu. This program will keep your computer running fast and smooth.

#5 - Change your passwords to your email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. at least once a month. If the site allows it, use a 10-character password that contains at least one capital letter, a number and a symbol. Once you change your password it is important that you logout of the site and then login again. This will bump anyone off your account that may be logged in without your permission.

#6 - Disable file sharing and remote access on your computer. You really don't need these unless you work for a company that requires you to share information with other employees. To share files with family and friends I suggest using Google to share files. That way they are not accessing your computer to see files. They are viewing them from Google's server.

#7 - If you have a wireless network, whether at home or at work, you absolutely must, must, must secure it. This is a little more technical and you have to know how to access your router, but it is an absolute must. Set up your network to require a password to connect using the same guidelines in #5. You also can change your settings to not broadcast your network so only people you authorize can see it. If you have an unsecured wireless network ANYONE within range of your connection can go on the Internet and engage in questionable and even illegal activity using your account.

#8 - NEVER open any email attachment if you didn't ask for it. This is the #1 way viruses are spread. If you do happen to get an email with a virus attached to it AVG will detect it and block it.

#9 - NEVER click on any link on Facebook , Twitter, website, etc. that you aren't absolutely sure you know what it is or where it came from. This is how you get hijacked. I made the mistake recently of opening a link on Facebook from someone who got hacked. Thankfully Firefox blocked the malicious script from opening. Also, if a web page pops up warning you that your computer is infected with spyware or a virus, DO NOT open it even if it looks like a legitimate message. Don't close this window by clicking the X in the upper right corner. Instead, close your browser to exit safely. If you think you may have a virus, open your anti-virus software and run a scan. NEVER allow a website to scan your computer.

#10 - Stay away from questionable websites. If you wouldn't view that site in front of your spouse, you shouldn't be there in the first place.

Again, there is no 100% guarantee that you won't ever get infected, but if you follow these 10 Safe Internet Habits, you will be very safe. It shouldn't cost you a dime to safely browse the Internet. The only thing you should have to pay for is your Internet provider. Nothing else. If you have to pay, be suspicious. If you do get infected get some help because it can be very difficult to completely remove a virus, trojan or browser hijack from your computer and it can take a good hour or two even when you know what you are doing. For lots of helpful information, tips, tools and free downloads, click on this website: http://www.komando.com/

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