Improve Computer Safety - Page 1 of 2

By TOM BOWSER


This is my list of specific things the average person can do to enhance the security, safety and privacy of their computing experience. Have a great day, Tom


1) Do not click on links within e-mails you receive. It is possible the link could initiate the download and installation of malware. The link could lead to a Web site designed to automatically download and install malware on to your computer. It is unlikely you will know the download and installation has taken place. This type of attack is sometimes referred to as a "drive by download" or "drive by install".

2) Do not open e-mail attachments from unknown sources. E-mail attachments can contain and install malware. It is important to remember that some types of computer malware spread by sending copies of themselves to all the e-mail or instant messaging (IM) contacts in your address, contacts list. If your computer or device becomes infected it may lead to the infection of the computers and devices of friends, co workers, business associates. If you receive an e-mail attachment from a known source, update your anti-virus/anti-malware software, then scan the attachment BEFORE you open it. Most anti-virus/anti-malware applications allow you to scan individual files. Depending on your anti-virus/anti-malware software you may be able to save the e-mail attachment to the desktop, right click on the file then choose the menu option to scan the file attachment.

3) Use a software "firewall" on every computer that has contact/connects with the Internet. A "firewall" helps to control access to (and sometimes traffic from) your computer. For example, a firewall can help block some types of computer malware and malicious individuals who "scan" the Internet for vulnerable computers. Versions of Windows XP and later include a software based firewall. Ensure it is enabled/turned on.

To verify the Windows Firewall is enabled/turned on (Windows 7, 8) go to the Windows "Control Panel" and left click on "Windows Firewall". There are two headings, one for private networks and one for public networks. Look beneath the network (private or public) listed as "Connected". The current "Windows Firewall state:" should be indicated as either "On" or "Off". In the left hand menu click on the option to "Turn Windows Firewall on or off" to enable the firewall if it is not turned on.

windows firewall control interface

I suggest you use the software based firewall installed on each computer and a hardware device that includes firewall functionality. If you have a high speed/broadband connection the device you use to connect your computer to the Internet may provide firewall functionality. Check with your ISP (Internet Service Provider) to determine if the equipment they provide includes a firewall.

4) Choose good passwords. Use a "password manager" like Password Agent Lite or KeePass Password Safe to store and organize your passwords. Both these password managers protect your passwords with encryption. Learn more by reading my tutorial How To Create Good Passwords | Password Management

5) Routinely backup important computer files. Create drive/system images. Know how to create and use "restore points" to solve computer problems.

6) Use anti-virus/anti-malware software and update it daily. If you can't afford to pay for anti-virus software I suggest you try one these FREE products:
  1. Ad-Aware
  2. AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition
  3. Avira AntiVir Personal
  4. Avast 4 Home Edition
  5. Bitdefender (a favorite of mine)
  6. ClamWin Free
  7. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (Free)
  8. Microsoft's Security Essentials


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