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how to protect your computer from virus

How To Protect Your Computer

by Trace Mayer, J.D. on January 26, 2010

Reading time: 4 – 6 minutes

The Internet plays a large role in many people’s everyday activities from searching for movies to buying books, checking bank accounts or credit cards, sending email that lands your in transactional databases.  Everyday, the threat of hackers, phishers, and other types of scammers increase. With the use of the Internet and some readily available technology, they are able to trick you into loading their malicious software onto your computer.  You need to know how to protect your computer.

Some of these nefarious individual’s offers may be tempting, but you have to go by the old adage, “If it looks too good to be true, then it probably is.”  You have to be careful where you go while surfing the Internet so that you are able to avoid these pitfalls. There are many ways that you can avoid them so long as you are aware that they exist.  The vast majority of the time when you surf the Internet, probably 99% of the time, it will be a perfectly safe and enjoyable experience.

SIMPLE RULES

These rules are more applicable to people who use PCs because the Mac has less market share and the operating system is much more secure and therefore the despicable hackers, phishers and scammers tend to go for the low hanging fruit found on PCs with outdated software.  To make sure that it stays that way you can follow these sets of rules.

First, is to not download any attachments when it comes from your email. Even attachments that are sent by your friends should be scanned by an updated anti-virus program. Two major brands are Norton and McAfee.  Some email services, like Gmail, will do this automatically.  Your friend may have gotten the file from somewhere that was infected. If the person sending an attachment to you is a stranger or a business that you have never heard of before then avoid opening the attachment at all cost. There should be no reason that someone is sending you an unsolicited attachment.

Second, is always keep your anti-virus updated. Most new computers will come with an anti-virus already installed. Or you can decide to get the service from another vendor. No matter what you decide make sure that it is always updated. This means that you have to let it run and update everyday. There are new virus definitions that are always released so you have to let the anti-virus on your system know what they are. If you do not do this then your anti virus will not catch any newer viruses. This almost makes the anti-virus software useless.

Third, is to always have a firewall up on your system. This is extremely important. A firewall allows you to keep strangers from directly entering your computer without your knowledge. Hackers will probe different IP addresses to find vulnerable machines and systems. If you have a firewall active then your computer will be much less vulnerable. You can use a hardware firewall that comes with your router, for example I have a Linksys router and am extremely satisfied with its capabilities and ease of use, or if you are a little more creative then you can download a software version.

CONCLUSION

These few common sense rules of installing and keeping up to date anti-virus software, like Norton or McAfee, on your computer that is behind a firewall are just a few rules that will help you protect your computer.  This could help you avoid a private investigator and decrease your risk of your personal information being used to create fraudulent identification documents.  For even greater security consider anonymous web surfing through an encrypted proxy server which will add double the protect from two firewalls.  If you follow them, and other recommendation in the book How To Vanish, then your computing experience will be much safer and your personal and financial privacy will be much more secure.

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14 comments

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Trace Mayer, J.D., holds a degree in Accounting, a law degree from California Western School of Law and studies the Austrian school of economics. He works as an entrepreneur, investor, journalist, monetary scientist and operates Run To Gold. He is a strong advocate of the freedom of speech, a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and the San Diego County Bar Association. He has appeared on ABC, NBC, BNN, many radio shows and presented at many investment conferences throughout the world. This is merely one article of 41 by .
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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Clem February 3, 2010 at 3:48 pm

All good ideas but the anti virus recs need to go a bit further in detail. I am not an IT guy but have several friends who are. They prefer AVG anti virus software over the others that you have listed. AVG is free to download and does not present a load on system resources as the others do. Virus definitions are more current with AVG and from past experience, far superior in catching these “bugs”. I have used all three and prefer AVG over the rest. I do not work for AVG or any of their affiliates. Best wishes, Clem

2 Trace Mayer, J.D. February 3, 2010 at 4:08 pm

Here is the free AVG anti-virus I found from Google. Is this what you are referring to?

3 Clem February 5, 2010 at 11:25 am

Yes,
CNET hosts a world of applications as well and AVG can be downloaded safely from their site:
http://download.cnet.com/AVG-Anti-Virus-Free-Edition/3000-2239_4-10320142.html?tag=mncol
There is also another link provided by Microsoft Partners but it is best to follow this link through Microsoft.
If on the other hand, you are a Linux user. Please refer to the appropriate application links that are provided with the specific release that you use.
Cheers,
Clem

4 Trace Mayer, J.D. February 5, 2010 at 11:27 am

Thanks Clem!

5 clem February 5, 2010 at 12:04 pm

You got me!
If you want to protect your privacy, you might wish to opt out of Google and use Startpage instead. Google is big into data mining. Use Startpage or go directly to the site that you want to view.
I get a fail! for that part, in honor of our good friends at How To Vanish.
Clem

6 JR April 5, 2010 at 5:05 pm

Would startpage work on government equipment? I work for the DOC.

7 JR April 29, 2010 at 9:34 pm

If I purchase a new computer from, lets say Best Buy, and pay by credit card is there a chance they may link my personal info on the card with the serial number of the computer? So in sense is it always better to pay for computer equipment by cash?

8 Trace Mayer, J.D. April 29, 2010 at 10:06 pm

JR, theoretically with transactional databases it would be possible to do what you have suggested. I doubt this is currently being done though. But Apple may be an exception. To be safe paying with cash would greatly increase your privacy.

9 Jojo Bizarro January 14, 2011 at 9:28 am

Just because you have a PC instead of a Macintosh doesn’t mean you have to settle for the third-rate security of Microsuck Winbloat™. Linux and forms of BSD other than OSX offer all the security of a Mac, and they work just fine on PC architectures, so you won’t have to shell out an arm and a leg and your first-born for a Mac, which is grossly overpriced.

10 Sally April 20, 2011 at 4:34 am

While experiences with anti-virus software vary from user to user I suggest that you look at Kaspersky for protection. Norton and McAfee will never touch my PC again. AVG is good but not of the caliber of Kaspersky. Spent the $60 and get great safety.

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