The modern internet age is an exciting time. The internet is a fantastic tool for entertainment, work, and communication. These days the internet is the first place many people check for almost any information they need including driving directions, entertainment news, cooking recipes, and countless other tasks. However, along with the power of the internet comes many dangers as well. Viruses, spyware, popups, and other malicious code can take the fun out of internet computing. As more and more money floats electronically through the internet one can only assume that malware will only increase.
Luckily protecting yourself from malware is not that hard. There are a number of great software programs that can protect you from the various forms of malware out there. Security programs are a must for anyone on the internet these days. Many of these security programs will cost you some money. To be honest many of these programs are worth the money as a single security breach in your computer system will likely cause you much headaches as well as possibly costing you money to resolve. However, one thing that make the internet unique from other aspects of life is that you can often get a free lunch. The spirit of giving freely without asking anything in return has definitely helped the internet grow into the largest and most important source of information in the world. As for security software, you can actually get free internet security software that does not take a back seat to any paid security software. I personally recommend saving your money and going with free internet security software. Really the only advantage to paid security software is that you can get complete security suites that will cover all of your internet security needs. Two of the best known internet security suites are Norton Internet Security and McAfee Internet Security Suite. Both are not bad, however you can get just as good protection for free.
Lets spend a minute to define what kinds of internet threats exist and how to defend against them. Viruses are very dangerous to you computer system. They can completely prevent Windows from functioning or can allow hackers a “backdoor” to your system. Anti-virus software is an absolute necessity for all computers. AVG Free is a great free anti-virus program that has regular virus definition updates. There are currently millions of AVG Free users because it provides such good anti-virus protection for free.
Spyware is another security threat similar to viruses in some ways. Spyware typically does not prevent your system from working, although it may slow your system somewhat. Spyware’s primary purpose is capture your private information and send it back to the creator or implementer of the spyware program. Identity theft, credit card number theft, and bank account number theft are just some of the things that can happen to you if you are infected with spyware. Again, there are very good free anti-spyware programs available. Spybot is one of the original free anti-spyware programs. Spybot offers good spyware protection with regular updates for free. It works on all versions of Windows. Windows Defender by Microsoft is another free anti-spyware program that works on Windows XP (if you pass the Windows Genuine Advantage) and comes with Windows Vista. Windows Defender protects against similar threats as Spybot, however Spybot will remove tracking cookies while Windows Defender will not. Tracking cookies are not very dangerous to your security though. Ad-Aware from Lavasoft is another free anti-spyware program that works slightly different from Spybot and Windows Defender. Using all three of the above anti-spyware programs can give you a very high level of protection.
Finally a software firewall can add extra real-time protection in a different way than from anti-virus or anti-spyware software. A software firewall allows you to control what programs can access the internet. Windows XP and Vista have a built in inbound firewall, meaning it will protect you from external computers trying to hack your computer. The built in Windows firewall does not give you outbound protection. This means is you accidentally download a spyware program though email, rogue website, or piggybacking on some semi-legitimate software, the Windows firewall will not stop malware that is already on your system from beaming out your private data. A third party software firewall will ask you if you want to allow internet access to all programs on your computer. You could still answer incorrectly and allow a spyware program access to the internet. However, just the prompt for your permission to access the internet offers some protection. For example, if you leave your computer on unattended for hours, spyware will have to wait until you come back to your computer and incorrectly allow it access to the internet instead of being able to beam out your information immediately at will.
ZoneAlarm Free Firewall puts control of your internet connection back in your hands. http://computer-help-center.com/internet-security/ has free tutorial videos on using the above mentioned free anti-virus, anti-spyware, and software firewall programs as well as links to download the free programs. The video tutorials are designed for any level of computer experience and also eliminate the need to read manuals. The bottom line is that everyone needs to actively protect themselves against the various threats that exist on the internet. The good news is that internet security is easy and free.
Rahul Patharkar runs http://computer-help-center.com, which is a site that has free information and tutorial videos on numerous computer tasks including computer backups, internet security, preventive maintenance, and many others.
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