How To Protect Your Computer

Posted 26 Jan 2010

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.


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and therefore the despicable hackers, phishers and scammers tend to go for the low hanging fruit found on PCs with outdated software.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.


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.