Cate Eales - Real Life Internet Solutions
Cate Eales - Real Life Internet Solutions

Real Life Internet Solutions

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Submitted by Cate Eales - Free & Easy Ways to Secure Your Computer Part 1

Worms, trojans, viruses --- all very scary stiff if you believe what you see on television or read in the papers. But it’s easy to secure your computer and keep it secure. Here are three things you can do to make your online life more enjoyable. We’ll talk more about this next time.

Virus Protection is the most important step you can take to protect you computer. That anti-virus program that came with your computer is most likely a trial version, and unless you pay for a subscription or install a different program, you are not protected beyond the trial period. There are several excellent anti-virus programs you can buy, and there are several excellent free ones, too. I think AVG Free from Grisoft is easiest to use and provides a high level of protection. Download it here It is easy to install and configure, it includes email scanning, and you can set it up to obtain updates automatically every day. (Be sure to turn off and uninstall any other anti-virus programs you may already have on your computer before you install a new one.)

Install a personal firewall, especially if you connect to the Internet using cable or DSL. A firewall is different from anti-virus software, and adds an extra layer of protection. Windows XP comes with a basic firewall, but there are other products that do the same thing better. Again, there is a wide array of firewalls you can pay for, but I like the free version of ZoneAlarm because it protects your computer from inbound and outbound problems, and is easy for a novice to configure and manage. ZoneAlarm is available for download click here (Be persistent and get the FREE, not the trial, version. You have to poke around the website.) If you decide to use ZoneAlarm or any other firewall, turn off the built-in one.

Installing, running, and updating your anti-virus and firewall programs goes a long way towards keeping your computer safe. But no matter how careful you are, there may come a time when something sneaks into your computer. Maybe the kids or the grandkids used it to download a game or a chat program. Maybe someone clicked on an enticing link, or opened an email they shouldn’t have. That’s where Anti-spyware programs can be useful.

Free programs such as AdAware (http://www.lavasoftusa.com/software/adaware/) and Spybot Search & Destroy (http://www.safer-networking.org/en/index.htm) will identify, and allow you to remove, applications that track your web surfing habits and report them to marketing companies. Both programs offer some protection from programs that change your browser home page without your knowledge or consent. (Yes, there are programs that do that.) I strongly recommend installing at least one of these spyware protection programs, and running it at least once a week. (I have both installed.) As always, make sure you have the most up-to-date versions, and keep them up-to-date.

Next time, I’ll show you two more easy and free steps to make your online computing experience safe and fun.

Cate Eales has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible and fun for over 20 years. She lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric, and her dog, Sandy. Email Cate with your comments, suggestions, or questions. To browse the column archives, visit the Real Life Internet Solutions website

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About the Author

The Technology Shaman, Cate Eales, has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible, and fun for over 30 years.

Cate lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric. She owns and operates Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile computer business providing on-site service for home and small business customers.

Cate is here to help you and your home or business computer get along.

E-mail Cate at [email protected] with comments, suggestions, or questions.

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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