Online Security 101

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These days, online security is extremely important. Protecting your computer from viruses, trojans, worms, spam, and who else knows what has gotten harder and harder. Read along to learn how to protect your computer and your identity from online hackers.

Virus Protection

Ok, these days, if your computer doesn’t have basic virus protection, there’s something wrong. There are lots of anti-virus software out there. Here are a few:

– McAfee – McAfee has been around for a long time now. It’s definitely one of the best. http://www.mcafee.com
– Norton – Norton has also been around for a very long time and is also one of the best. http://www.norton.com
– AVG – A newer player on the block. I’ve used this before and the free version works great! http://free.avg.com
– Eset – I saved my newest favorite for last. ESET is turning into a leader and is affordable and doesn’t use much memory or resources to run (unlike McAfee, Norton and AVG) http://www.eset.com

Spyware

Spyware starting becoming an issue a couple of years ago. How does your computer get infected? By going to a website that uses flash or specialized software that it says you need to install. Once you install the “software”, your computer is infected. Spyware can slow down your computer, become a zombie spam server and send all of your passwords to a centralized database. It’s not a good thing to be infected.

Most of the above companies have anti spyware built into their sofware packages. I also use a separate, open-sourced, anti-spyware checker that has been around for years and years – SpyBot. Go here to download and install:

http://www.safer-networking.org

Spam

By now, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how bad an issue spam is. It became so bad for our mail servers 5 years ago, that we developed a really kick-butt solution that filters 99.99% of all spam before it even makes it to our end mail servers. In fact last week, we filtered over 3 million spam messages before they even made it to our mail servers. That’s for around 3,000 email addresses. Not bad. That’s 1,000 spam messages per inbox. Wow.

So what can you do to ensure you’re not getting spam? Lots of things really, but the first is to ensure that your email provider is blocking spam effectively. Another thing is to make sure you don’t publish your email address ANYWHERE online and don’t sign up for anything with your email. Of course that’s not realistic, so do what I do – use several free email addresses such as gmail, hotmail or yahoo for signing up for newsletters or services. I actually use three and use one for things that I know I’m going to get spam. The other I use for things I really want to read (i.e. newsletters) and the last one that I don’t give to anybody unless I want them to contact me.

And for my business email? I only give that to customers. The rest go into one of the above.

Updates and Regular Scans

All of the above won’t matter at all unless you regularly update your computer and run regular scans with the above software. You can set up all of those to run automatically. This way you set it and don’t have to worry about it after that.

Online Activities

This is the hardest thing to give advice on as it involves your behaviors. My business partner used to run a computer hardware company and one of the services they used to have was cleaning up infected computers. The number one reason computers get infected? Going to porn websites.

So, just make sure you know or trust a website before you install ANYTHING. This is also true for even going to a website. If it pops up a message that says, “Your computer is infected, click here.” Don’t click. I know way too many people that click and then get infected. Just bad joo-joo.

Conclusion

Online security is a HUGE issue these days and have been for quite a while. Be sure to protect yourself and keep your identity to yourself. Also be on the lookout for suspicious activities such as a slow computer, windows doing things unexpectedly or something to that nature as they might be symptoms of an infected computer.

If you feel your computer is infected, find a local geek or geek store that can help you fix the problems. Trust me and use the professionals as they keep up to date on issues.

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