It amazes me that there are people out there who don't know how to use the Internet safely. To me, it is like crossing the street. You have to know to look both ways and observe the rules of the road, or you will get hit by a speeding car. This article makes it sound like there are many people out there surprised they are getting hit when they walk blindly out into the middle of the road. The internet is being sold like the telephone network. It is safe, secure, and nothing can happen to you when you go on it. That's just not the case. The internet is not the phone network. It is dangerous, and to use it, you must protect yourself.
There are a few programs that are helpful in protecting you on the internet. They are free, and very useful. There are also some very helpful sites that are trustworthy and worth looking at every once in awhile for security updates. If you just bought a new computer, I recommend that you download all of these programs, including the latest Windows updates, and burn them onto a CD to install onto the new machine BEFORE YOU EVEN CONNECT IT TO THE NET. I've read some other articles about how some people who just bought their new computers in December plugged them in and immediately got hit with worms and viruses, AS THEY WERE DOWNLOADING UPDATES FROM WINDOWS UPDATE! It's a rough world out there. And you have drivers looking for pedestrians to run down... so check these programs out.
- Zone Alarm - a helpful firewall, the free version does just as much as the paid version.
- Ad Aware - protects against spyware and malicious programs.
- Spybot Search & Destroy - gets rid of most spyware if you have been unfortunate enough to have any on your system.
- Firefox and Thunderbird - the best alternatives to Internet Explorer and Outlook that you can get for free.
- Gmail - the best free e-mail service you can get. It's in beta now and you can only get an account if you know someone else who has one, but if you ask around, there should be someone who has free accounts to give away. I have 9. Ask me. I'll give you one.
- Norton Antivirus - I've never had a problem with this virus protection software. You have to pay for it, but it's worth it.
- Windows Update - If you are using Windows to connect to the Internet, be sure to run Windows Update every month, week, or day. As bad a reputation as Microsoft has gotten for their security holes, they do offer helpful patches that should be installed as soon as they are released. The only unfortunate thing about Windows Update is that you have to run in on IE. But if you protect your system with all of the above methods before you go here, you may be safe.
- Leaktest - tests your internet connection to insure that it is free of leaks-- that is, that you can surf the net without opening up your IP address or computer to malicious users.
- Gibson Research Corporation - Steve Gibson is the best security/Windows programmer on the net. His Leaktest program is proof that Zone Alarm is the best firewall out there, and that a firewall is needed to make your system safe. Check out his site every once in awhile. There are a lot of good programs there. And another good thing about his work is that it is free. However, I keep meaning to give him some money one of these days...
Hopefully those "rules of the road" will help some of you that use Windows how to make your systems safe. I never wrote them all down as I assumed everyone knew about them! But I guess, everyone has to take a driver's test at least once, and learn about all of this stuff at some point in their lives.