Online Security

Browsing the internet is one of the most useful ways of searching, finding and accumulating data and information to suit your needs. Some spend more time than others surfing the internet to find that elusive nugget of information. As in most endeavours, the internet has spawned its own threats, orchestrated by those who make it their business to steal information and use it to their advantage (and your disadvantage).

In order to make this more difficult for them, there are two measures you must (not should!) take…

  • Anti-virus. Make sure you have an anti-virus software program installed. But don’t just install it, regularly update its virus database. Since new viruses, trojans and worms are created all the time, you need to update that part of you virus programme (database) that will recognise the threat. If the programme does not know about the threat, it won’t react – protect you from it.

    • There are two ways of getting hold of a good anti-virus program, namely buy it – or use one of the freeware programs out there. And just because it’s free, it does not mean “lacking in quality”. Freeware virus programs come with free virus database updates. A word of caution though – not all freeware virus programs are entirely free – you’ll have to give up your e-mail address as “payment”. And just because it’s free now, it might not remain so in the future.

    • Buying an anti-virus program can cost you quite a bundle. Once you have decided to take this route, do some careful research on the internet to find one that will suit your needs. Make sure you read the fineprint with regards to updates. Some sellers will offer a limited number of free updates, after which you will be required to pay for each “update”. Others will require that you pay a monthly (quarterly/annual) subscription for updates. These are just some of the options – the point is make sure that you know what you’re buying and what the future cost will be.

  • Firewall. Install a firewall on your computer. A firewall is a program that will assess which programs on your PC connect, or need to connect to the internet; whether they should (or shouldn’t) and will then make you aware of them, If you don’t want a program to connect to the internet, you can then instruct the firewall to block it (not allow access). It will either block it automatically or alert you that a program is trying to access your PC.
    • Once again you’ll face a choice of either buying a firewall program or use a freeware alternative. Windows XP comes with a built-in firewall, but judging from independent reviews, you’ll be far better off if you use an alternative. The XP version only provides the basic levels of protection. Again, be careful about what you choose. As with most software, read the fineprint to ensure what you are letting yourself in for.
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