Since I haven’t posted in eons, I thought I would try to get something up here to appease my adoring public (that’s right, both of you). So here’s my PSA, posted in response to an e-mail I just received from a friend who asked the following:
What do I need to do to my computer to make it safe from viruses and hackers?
I would do a few things to keep yourself safe, as follows:
- Completely quit using Internet Explorer as your browser. Switch to Firefox, or if you prefer, Opera. Firefox is my browser of choice. The reason you need to do this is because Internet Explorer has all sorts of security holes, especially regarding spyware and adware. Once you download and install your shiny, new browser, make sure to set it as the default for your operating system.
- The same goes for Microsoft Outlook or Microsoft Outlook Express. If you are using those to check your e-mail, switch to Mozilla Thunderbird. Also, as always, be very, very careful about what attachments you open. Opening attachments could end up bypassing all the other security measures you take. Another good option would be to use Gmail for your e-mail address.
- If you have a wireless router, you’ll need someone to come secure it for you. Get a friend who can tell you what WEP is (or at least what it does) and who can figure out how to log into your router. Buy this person a Hostess Fruit Pie and ask them to set it up for you. You’ll be set.
- Consider purchasing some anti-virus software. This may not be necessary, but it could end up being helpful in the future. Just consider it. I don’t use it, and most of my friends don’t either, but it definitely makes our computers a touch more at-risk.
- Download and install Ad-Aware and Spybot Search-and-Destroy. These will keep that nasty spyware off your computer. Make sure to download the updates and run these programs about once a month. Since you won’t be using Internet Explorer, this could be a non-issue, but it never hurts.
- And foremost, just use your God-given common sense. If you smell something fishy, not quite right, or too good to be true, just leave it alone – scammers are a dime a dozen on the good ol’ Interweb.
I hope those little pointers help you. And if you have some others, please feel free to share them in the comments.