It seems like I am the person that many of my friends and family turn to for solving computer problems. Of course, I know that many of you also consider my input valuable. Probably the most common questions and problems over the past couple of years have been about computer security.
Now the people asking me the questions or telling me the problems don’t always know that computer security is the real issue. They just know that their computer isn’t behaving properly. If your computer is badly infected, the best thing you can do is get the data off of it and start all over. Yes, this is drastic, but there just isn’t any way to fix it short of a reformat.
The key is to protect your computer so that it doesn’t get infected in the first place. There are three major pieces to the puzzle. The first piece is to avoid risky behavior. Don’t play with e-mail attachments if you don’t know the person sending it and/or if the attachment seems the least bit fishy. Don’t click on links in any of the messages that claim your account (PayPal, bank or other financial institution) is about to be closed because of something you did. Don’t visit questionable Web sites. Adult sites, sites that claim to have something free that isn’t supposed to be free (software, music, movies, etc.) are definitely places to avoid if you want a clean computer. Basically, use some common sense when you surf the Web and read e-mail.
Next, you need to keep Windows updated. Microsoft sends out new updates on the 2nd Tuesday of each month. Sometimes there are only a couple, sometimes there are many. You can turn on “auto-update” and they will automatically be downloaded and installed. I’d suggest that you might want them to auto-download, but do the installation manually. A good source of information on these updates is the WindowsSecrets.com Web site. They send a newsletter just after the updates are released each month and let you know if there are any issues or any updates you should avoid.
The last piece of the puzzle is to have a security suite to protect you. I’ve tried several of them and was a fan of Norton’s Internet Security Suite for a long time. But I found that each new version seemed to be even more of a system hog and more of a problem. I’ve since switched to the ZoneAlarm Security Suite and have been very happy with its performance. It has the best firewall to protect both inbound and outbound traffic, a top-notch virus checker to scan your system and protect your e-mail and a spyware checker to again scan your system. I’ve set up the auto scans to run in the middle of the night though they are always active to keep track of my current surfing and e-mail. The latest version has added another component to help protect against identity theft. This represents the first security suite to attack this unfortunate problem.
Sure, you can download a free copy to try it out. But you might want to just go ahead and get a copy so you don’t have to worry about the trial expiring in a couple of weeks. For the peace of mind it provides, it is definitely worth the price! Download ZoneAlarm Pro Here