Death. Taxes. Spyware.
10 tips to help you keep your PC safe from snoopers.
by Robin Wark
Some things in life are inevitable. Even if you have only surfed the web a little, you have likely encountered spyware or its friend, adware.
In general terms, spyware is designed to track where you travel online. Adware creates targeted pop-up ads. At times these intruders can just be annoying, however they can also be used in such crimes as identity theft, which can result in you taking a big hit in the pocketbook. To foil these cyber criminal henchmen, you need to arm yourself with both knowledge and tools.
These 10 tips will help you fight off adware and spyware and keep your identity and your computer safe!
- Always install all Windows updates. Hackers are constantly finding ways to exploit vulnerabilities in Microsoft operating systems. The company frequently releases updates with "patches" to keep invaders out. You can set your system to automatically install updates or you can choose to do them as they come up. If you are unsure if you have the latest update, you can log onto windowsupdate.microsoft.com
- Download another web browser. Some browsers seem to be more susceptible than others to spyware-based hijackings. It is a good idea to use a couple of different browsers. There are a variety of browsers available, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari and Netscape Navigator.
- Install an anti-spyware application with real-time blocking. Real-time blocking applications1 offer you constant protection. If something potentially dangerous is trying to download, real-time blocking applications alert you and provide you with your choice of immediate solutions.
- Don't open attachments or links in emails from strangers. These emails can be stocked with dangerous spyware, viruses, links to dangerous sites or unwanted advertisements. You should consider installing a spam blocker2. It will quarantine the potentially unwanted messages and keep them away from your inbox.
- Be smart in your web surfing. If a site and its offers just don't feel right, it probably isn't and you should get out of there. If you are not the lone user of your computer or you have young people using it, you should consider installing a content filtering program3. This will block sites with inappropriate content, which often contain malware.
- Only download software from trusted sites. Corrupt, ineffective, or illegally licensed software could cost you in the end as you never know what is being downloaded along with it. It could be installing potentially destructive or invasive code onto your PC.
- Read software end-user license agreements. Yes, these can put a person to sleep and are chock full of legal speak, however they can tell you if you are agreeing to download a bundle that includes spyware or adware.
- Stay away from file sharing programs. Spyware and adware can piggyback along with music and video files onto your computer. Some parental control products have an option to block these applications4.
- Do not click on pop-up ads. Some of these ads make you think they will go away if you click a certain option, but you might be downloading something dangerous onto your PC. Always click the little "X" to make them disappear.
- Protect yourself in your travels. If you often need to use public computers, consider a portable anti-spyware application that can be loaded onto a U3 drive5. That way you know you will be protected no matter which PC you are using.
2 ParetoLogic Spam Controls is a sophisticated spam blocking application.
3 ParetoLogic PGsurfer is an effective content filtering tool that also has many other features to help keep children safe online.
4 ParetoLogic PGsurfer can stop music, video, game and other files possibly containing viruses and malware from being downloaded.
5 XOFTspy Portable Anti-Spyware offers protection on the go as it can be loaded onto a U3 drive.
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