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Safer Surfing

Surfing the web now requires the same preparation and vigilance that you'd expect when walking down a dark alley in the middle of night during a crime wave. Being trusting, naive, and hoping for the best will not work. That might have been okay 8 years ago, but that is just plain asking for trouble now.

And now you don't even have to ask for trouble. Just being wired is enough. There are worms that will infect your computer if you do nothing more than cable your computer to the internet. Now that is scary.

What can you do? Follow the steps below. They are not in any particular order -- because you need to do them all. No one solution is enough. We are being attacked (yes, it is a war) from all fronts. So get your act together and get these solutions in place.

A) Install a virus scanner and keep it updated. If you don't want to pay for one try Avast or AVG.

Want to double check your virus program? Use an online scan:
PC Pitstop
Panda Online Virus Scan
Sygate Online Virus Scan
Symantec System Check
Trend Micro HouseCall Virus Scan

B) Installing and running on a regular basis AdAware and Spybot Search & Destroy.

It is a good idea to clean your computer of temporary files before running these programs. It will speed up the process a bunch.

To clean up other temporary files on your computer in Windows 98 or higher:
1) In Control Panel, open Internet Options.
2) Click the General tab
3) Under Temporary Internet files, click Delete Files.
4) In the Delete Files dialog box, click to select the Delete all offline content check box if you want to delete all Web page content that you have made available offline.
5) Click OK.

6) Click Start, Programs (or All Programs), Accessories, System Tools, Disk Cleanup
7) Choose the correct drive usually C:\
8) Check the boxes in the list and delete the files

C) Installing a decent firewall - you would have detected any trojan trying to 'phone home'. Freeware ones include Zonealarm and Sygate

Cb) This online scanning services can be used to double check your firewall: SheildsUp Security Check

D) Installing a registry protection tool such as RegProt from DiamondCS. This will alert you to any malware trying to write to your registry - most malware will attempt to do this. RegProt runs in the background and uses minimal resources

E) Review the security settings you have in Internet Explorer and your email program. This page is a good resource

F) Reviewing who is doing what on your system. Without being too judgemental many folks perform extremely unsafe computing.

G) Seriously, seriously consider keeping good backups of your important data. There may come a time that you need to reformat and start from scratch.

H) Make sure you keep your system uptodate with the latest security patches from Microsoft for both your operating system and for IE. There seems to be a new fix about once a week. And if you don't keep your system patched it will be in even more danger than it would be otherwise.

The following steps are recommended but not required.

1) Do not use Outlook Express or Outlook in any form. Dump your Microsoft email program and use either Pegasus or Eudora. We prefer Pegasus because it is totally free for all versions including the most feature rich.

2) Do not use IE or any IE Core browser. There are many different browsers that all use the same IE core with different user interfaces. We recommend either Mozilla, FireFox, or Opera. These browsers simply do not have the same security risks that seem to plague IE. If you love IE and must stay with it, please, please, please make sure you keep the security updates actually up-to-date.

Security Alert

When downloading a recommended anti-virus, anti-trojan, anti-spyware program only download from an exact website recommended by whatever review or support person you happen to trust.

The sad news is that many scumware companies are producing their own version of anti-spyware programs the are in fact spyware desiquised as anti-spyware.

The situation wants to make you scream. You can not trust the ads or sponsored links that come up when you do a search. Even the most respected search engines are selling adwords to scumware companies.

That is why we give links to the recommended software when we recommend it. Just because a name sounds similar does not mean it is the same.

Once upon a time the scumware companies lurked in the shadows, now they are at the top of the search engines. This really is buyer beware.

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