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There is a definite need nowadays when venturing onto the internet, to "defend yourself". This is a phrase most associated with combat or war. And war it is. The internet is a wild place teeming with unknown dangers. Keep in mind the fact that in going online you will be attacked , anonymously. These people or groups have no idea who you are and don't need to. Who you are is a side issue. If you properly defend yourself they'll never find out. They know your operating system (windows) , and this is enough to succeed. In this article I'll address three types of software tools which you can use to defend yourself. Antivirus software, such as symantecs norton anti virus Mcafees virusscan and some free ones like antivir. Then there are the spyware and adware tools like Ad-aware and Spybot S&D which have free versions available. Finally, firewalls are essential to this three way defense of your system. The use and care of these weapons are beyond the scope of this article, but the reasons for having them will be explained.
Probably the most benign but troublesome things that can affect your system are spyware and adware. these invaders can change system settings and slow your computer to a crawl but don't destroy data. spyware slows your online experience by transmitting information about your online habits back to their hosts to be collected and sold. This practice is similiar to stores gathering information about your shopping habits with cards that they issue. The difference is the stores have your consent and usually you get better pricing on some items. Adware con change your homepage setting or spawn pop up ads which are annoying but mostly harmless. In order to protect yourself and get rid of these pests, download and install Lavasofts Ad-Aware and/or Spybot S&D by Safer-Networking. After installing these two useful tools, get into the habit of running them once or twice a month, more often if you use the internet frequently or the programs detect a lot of instances of things inhabiting your computer.
Compared to adware and spyware, viruses are dangerous. If you value your data and/or don't want to pay someone to repair your computer, install and keep updated virus control software. Viruses are malicious programs designed to destroy data, make your system inoperable, or allow it to be used remotely to attack other computers. In addition they can install other programs that can dial international numbers or toll calls. New viruses are released often and only after they are discovered can virus control companies update their software to detect and get rid of them. This comes in the form of virus definitions and every brand of control software has a way of updating itself. Do this weekly or bi-monthly again based on your internet usage. Two of the best antivirus software packages available are Symantecs Norton Antivirus and Mcafees VirusScan.
Lastly, firewall software is very much like a moat around a castle. It is designed to keep things in as well as out but travel is possible with permission just as with a drawbridge and moat. After installing a software firewall such as zonealarm, You'll start to get dialog boxes that tell you that a program is trying to access the internet. A good example would be windows update or ad-aware or your antivirus software after you tell it to update. With the multitude of programs available to install on your system there's no telling what may be the reason but if you just started an update that's a good sign. The point is, if you recognize the name of the program trying to access the internet or you just started an update, allow access. If you're sure about the source of the message (Microsoft update, virus update,etc) check" remember this decision". Allow lowers the drawbridge and deny keeps it up. This is a system that learns what your doing with your computer and what behavior is allowed. If for example a virus or some other harmful program was behind your firewall (inside the moat) and was trying to send information or making a request to download something to your computer without your knowing it (another virus perhaps) this will alert you. One other defense that's important especially if you have broadband access (dsl or cable) is a hardware firewall. This is usually contained in a router that you purchase but may be included with your package. This is an actual piece of equipment. The difference between a hardware and software firewall is this: a hardware firewall is better at stopping things from coming in and a software firewall is better at stopping things from going out. Any software is has vulnerabilities as they run on an operating system, so they are not foolproof. The combined strength of a hardware and software solution is hard to beat.
When using virus, adware or firewall programs, it's pertinent to try updating them before running them. These companies have to stay one step ahead of their adversaries, so helping them accomplish this goal is to your benefit. Remember, update then scan.
In summary, if you do not have the three tools I have mentioned, you are not safe surfing the internet. You do not have to visit a site at all for one type of virus (worm) to infect your system. Spyware can be hidden in a jpeg file (photo) . A firewall alone will not not stop adware or spyware. Hackers probe the internet looking for vulnerable computers. Clearly, using a three part plan to defend yourself against attack is the only safe option. if all three areas are not addressed and kept up to date you will experience problems. Once security is breached, it can be difficult if not impossible to restore your system and/or data.
Links pertaining to this article:
Lavasofts Ad-Aware - click on the green link on the right side that say's "download Ad-Aware Free"
Safer-Networkings Spybot S&D
Symantecs Norton Antivirus
McAfees Personal Firewall Plus
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