Keep Your Computer Up To Date
All computer programs, including the computer's operating system (Windows, Mac OS, Linux), have flaws (bugs) in them. Many computer worms and viruses use these flaws to spread to other computers and, hackers can use these flaws to break into and take over your computer. Correcting these flaws is just as important as running a good anti-virus scanner.
Most suppliers of computer programs, including Microsoft and Apple, release updated versions of their programs on a regular basis to correct the flaws that have been discovered in their programs. Both the Windows operating system and the Mac OSX operating system provide mechanisms for keeping your computer operating system up to date with the latest security updates. These can either be run manually by hand or they can be configured to run automatically. Other makers of computer programs also update their programs on a regular basis. Some programs automatically check for updates but many do not.
To help keep you and your computer safe while connected to the internet, keep your computer's operating system and the other programs you use up to date with the latest security updates.
Use a Good Anti-Virus Program
One of the most important things you can do to help keep you and your computer safe while on-line is to run a good quality anti-virus program. Computer worms and viruses continue to cause a great deal of damage to computer systems; many of them are created to steal confidential information off of infected computers.
Every computer should have a good quality anti-virus program installed and running on it. Windows computers are not the only computers that get infected by computer worms and viruses. Even Mac and UNIX computers can be infected by viruses, worms and Trojan horse programs.
You can buy a good quality anti-virus program at any well stocked computer store. Look for one that also has a personal firewall built into it. Be sure to keep your anti-virus program up to date. Most suppliers of anti-virus software provide an automatic update service to help keep your anti-virus software updated.
I've got Spyware on my computer, how do I get rid of it?
Spyware and adware are designed and installed in such a way to make removal difficult. The best way to get spyware and adware off of your computer is to run a reputable spyware removal tool. Free spyware tools are available on the web, but, unfortunately, many are not very good. In fact, some of them are actually Trojan horse spyware programs! Choose a removal tool that has been recommended by someone you trust, and only download it from a reputable WEB site. All of the major name-brand anti-virus manufacturers sell spyware removal tools. Two free spyware removal tools that work well and can be trusted are:
A number of spyware and Trojan horse programs are designed to steal usernames and passwords. So, once you are confident that you have removed all spyware, adware, trojan horse, music trading programs, viruses, and worms, and have confirmed that your computer is up to date with all of the critical patches, you should change all of your passwords. Change the password to your computer’s log on account, all Windows domain accounts, all E-mail accounts, and all on-line banking accounts. Always keep a close watch on your monthly bank statements and credit card statements for unauthorized charges.
Backup Your Data
Sooner or later you will accidentally delete a file that you didn't intend to delete or, your disk drive will go bad. The best way to protect yourself from such an unfortunate event is to make backup copies of your data regularly. The more documents you create and the more frequently you make changes to your documents, the more often you should make backup copies of them.
The simplest way to make a backup is to copy your documents from one folder to another. However, this will not help you if your disk drive goes bad or your computer is stolen. It is better to copy your documents to another hard drive or to some other type of storage media (such as CDROM or Flash drive). You can save some storage space by compressing your backup files with a utility such as WINZIP or GZIP.
Windows comes with a greatly improved backup and restore utility that is much simpler to use than previous versions. Other vendors also provide backup and restore programs for Windows and for Mac OSX. These backup programs can compress the backup files and write them to CD/DVD-ROM, tape drives or to another hard drive.
It is best to backup the entire hard drive at a regularly scheduled time. Store your backups away from the computer in another room or in another building. Keep them locked up and out of sight. Sensitive and confidential data should be encrypted before backing up.