Monday, March 10, 2008

Protecting Yourself On the Internet

It is quite often that someone in dire need of some computer help calls me up and states that their computer is no longer working. When I get there I find they have high speed internet connection with no security - This is security issues just waiting to happen...

Firstly let me just say, if you have a computer that you use on the internet then you must must must use a firewall. If you don't then not only will your computer start to go wrong, you also risk private data getting into the hands of hackers or worse. People can gain full access to your computer, install what they like, watch what you are doing, take your passwords, bank details and even identity.

So hopefully the above is enough to scare you into reading this article - and so it should.

Whilst the internet is a very valuable resource it is also a breeding ground for people who have nothing better to to than spy on you, force averts on you, try and hack your computer or create viruses that damage your data. There are different categories of nasties to watch for.

Hackers - These can be people or machines or bots programmed by people. They are they to try and access your computer. This could be to install something on there or steal your personal data. This is high risk and IMO one of the most important things to protect against.

Viruses - These range from annoying to devastating as far as your computer goes. These can be files that slow your computer down, download more malicious software or cause strange things to happen with your PC.

Spyware - This is where data is collected about what you do on the internet. This is generally used for sales and marketing purposes but can have darker objectives.

Adware - The lesser evil of this discussion but still annoying and potentially dangerous - do you have adverts popping up seemingly at random even after visiting trusted web sites? The chances are you are infected with adware.

Generally these evils will do no obvious harm to your computer and subsequently can often go unnoticed. The main tell tale sign that something is wrong is that that your super new computer that was really fast when you got is, has now slowed down to almost nothing. This is where you most likely have so many infections that you are overloading your machine.

So this is usually what I find when I visit people and they have a problem - so what can you do about this?

Well the first thing I would always advise is that a firewall be used. A firewall is something that stops programs accessing the internet unless you say it is ok. This will eliminate huge amounts of all the nasties listed above from even getting on your computer in the first place. There are some good free firewalls out there so get onto Google - there is no excuse.

The antivirus software will monitor what comes into and goes out of your computer and check for viruses as well as offer the option for a complete scan. Whilst there are premium antvirus programs there are also a couple of good free ones.

To resolve the adware and spyware issues you need to regularly scan your PC. These can be picked up, not only from unsecure computers but is also bundled into a lot of the so called "free" software. It's important to check this before downloading anything that claims to be free. It also is worth noting that some of these programs will stop working alltogether should the adware/spyware be removed.

So with the above you should be able to firstly prevent your system from failing and , secondly, solve the issue yourself if you are infected.

Hopefully this article will help someone out.

JBO Solutions supplies the UK with Computer Parts, Computer Components and accessories such as Computer Monitors.

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