Do you know what it takes to keep your computer well? Well, if not – I have some simple tips that will help you stay away from those nasty viruses and spyware!

BEFORE YOU BEGIN: Please read my paperwork blog (In 3 parts). This may give you something to do during your “down” time.

TIPS
– Do not click on attachments from those you do not know.
I dont know why we have to keep repeating this tip, you would think most people just would delete the email with the insane subject title or wouldnt open an email from someone they dont know!

– If you get an email that seems to be from your bank, ebay, or wherever stating you need to check your account, do NOT click the link that is provided in the email!
This tip also works for links in Instant Messenger Programs.
This is a known tactic for “phishing”, which is a way for the bad guys to steal your logon information.

– Do not click on links posted to your social networking site!
This is a new tactic for phishers! I have seen these on facebook, myspace and twitter, so BEWARE!

DONT WANT TO BE SICK ANYMORE!
Now that I have some of tips out of the way, you need to decide on which anti-virus provider to use. Each one has their advantages/disadvantages….Some ISPs include virus protection. If your ISP provides this service, I recommend you use that combined with a regular online scan.

It is also important that you keep whatever anti-virus software you use up to date. New viruses are created all the time, so you need to stay on top of it!

BEFORE YOU SCAN
-Close all programs, restart your computer
-Turn off your screensaver
-Dont use your computer

Scanning can take anywhere from 10 minutes to 3 hours (even longer) depending on how big your hard drive is and how many files you have. If you have partitioned your hard drive or have multiple hard drives, you should scan those as well.

It will take longer to scan your system if you are using the computer or if your screensaver pops on. I suggest turning the screensaver off and working on something else for the time being.

Here are some FREE online scans:
BitDefender – http://www.bitdefender.com/scan8/ie.html
Panda Active Scan – http://www.pandasecurity.com/activescan/index/
PC PitStop – http://www.pcpitstop.com/pcpitstop/default.asp
TrendMicro – http://housecall.trendmicro.com/

DONT SPY ON ME!
I also recommend that you use a spyware program. Spyware is just as destructive as a virus. I use Webroot’s SpySweeper. I beleive that there is a free version thru download.com.

NOTE:
I also restart my computer and turn off the screensaver during this scan also.

FIREWALL
Not only is it important to protect your computer with anti-virus and spyware software, but it just as important to protect your computer with a firewall. You have a choice whether or not to use the version that comes with Windows, or to get third party software. I personally use a program called ZoneAlarm.

It might nag a little while you are setting it up, but it is definately worth it to know if programs are trying to contact the “outside world” or if outside programs are trying to contact your computer.

SPEAKING OF NAGS
Theres nothing worse that surfing along, minding your business when you get to a site that is pop-up heaven….If you arent paying attention, you could click on one of these pop-ups – and a number of things could happen…

– you could trigger a pop-up avalanche! Clicking on one, normally causes more to pop-up. You will definately know if youve triggered an avalanche!

– you could trigger a download for software you do not want installed
(Mostly spyware related)

The point being, you should install a pop-up blocker. Again, many ISPs provide this software. Some of the more popular search portals also provide pop-up blockers in their “toolbars”.

I recommend using the pop-up blocker software provided by your ISP. There are many aspects of “toolbars” that resemble spyware as well as include options that are unnecessary.

ESTABLISHING A ROUTINE
Yea, Yea….Im still on this routine stuff. However, if you use your computer alot-this really needs to be stressed. Make sure that you set your anti-virus, spyware sweeper and firewall to automatically update and scan.

Once you pick a day and time for everything to update and scan, put a sticky on your monitor so you remember to leave your computer on so the work can be done when you are not using it.

TOMORROWS TOPIC
Your favorites list!
Guess what were gonna do?

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