Four Tips to Safe Web Browsing by Chris Molnar

Everybody knows the dangers that lurk on the Internet. The proliferation of scams, spyware and viruses may make you wish to cut the broadband connection and go back to writing letters by hand. The good news, though, is that with a few simple practises, you can better safeguard your computer and yourself from digital indigestion and headaches.

Raise your security settings

The first thing you can do immediately to help safeguard your computer is to tighten your Web browser’s security settings. No matter which Web browser you use, follow these easy steps to increase your security:

  1. Open your Web browser. (The most popular Web browsers are Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox.)
  2. Click the Tools menu.
  3. Select either “Options” or "Internet Options."
  4. Click on the Security tab.

With Internet Explorer, drag the tab up to Medium-High. With this setting, your computer will not download any software without your approval - this prevents sneaky websites from loading spyware onto your computer without your knowledge.

If you use Mozilla Firefox, check all the boxes. These will likely be "Warn me when sites try to install add-ons", "Tell me if the site I'm visiting is a suspected attack site" (for Firefox 3) and "Tell me if the site I’m using is a suspected forgery." Firefox will now warn you when a website attempts to run a potentially dangerous script. You then have the option of letting the script run if you know it's a trusted website, or stop the script to avoid a potential hazard.

A good Anti-virus program

An anti-virus program is a must. There are two types of programs, subscription-based and free. Surprisingly, the free software can be just as effective as the paid-for versions. Subscription-based programs update the software every few days or even several times a day, updating the new viruses that are detected. If you do not renew your subscription, you can still use the program, but it will no longer be updated with the latest virus protection.

Popular commercial virus companies include McAfee, Norton and Kaspersky. All have great features, real-time protection and additional features. However, a lot of users complain that the programs, with all their extra features, are too complex and slow down their system.

Free programs include Avast!, AVG and Avira AntiVir. They rely on the income from business licenses and upgraded paid-for versions. Just like the larger commercial companies, each are powerful in their own right and protect your computer just as well, though with more basic features. For most ordinary users, this is definitely sufficient enough.

Avoid "Bad Neighborhoods"

A "Bad neighborhood" is defined as a known website that tricks users into clicking a link. The link may be a simple advertisement, or it may secretly download spyware or a virus, sometimes without even you needing to click anything.

If you view a website that doesn’t appear to have any useful content, but contains links, lots of popups or advertisments, then click your back button. Navigate away without clicking any links or enabling any programs that your browser may be asked to download.

Keep Your Software Updated

New viruses and other threats appear daily, many of them taking advantage of security holes in a browser or operating system. No matter which Web browser you use, always download the latest security patches and updates. Turn on Window's Automatic Updates to keep your computer secure from the latest threats. If you delay your upgrade, you remain vulnerable to security threats, Spyware and viruses.

Tips by Chris Molnar, owner of Download a no-nonsense ebook on steps to speed up your slow computer.

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