Suggestions for Safe Computing
Any computer connected to the Internet is vulnerable to attack by various kinds of hostile programs. Most common are email viruses and programs that attack vulnerabilities in a computer's operating system (such as Windows). Given the vast number of threats, anyone who connects an unprotected computer to the Internet is highly likely to find their computer compromised very quickly. Many of the new viruses and worms turn your computer into remotely controllable spam servers, clearly not something that you want to happen. So with that as background, here are some suggestions to help you keep your computer safe:
- Update Your Operating System
An operating system is the basic program that runs all the time on your computer. If you run Windows, that's your operating system. Others include OS9 and OSX for the Macintosh, as well as Linux. Microsoft and Apple publish security updates to their products frequently. For Windows users, running Windows Update is the single most important step in keeping your computer safe.
- Windows Users: Windows Update
- Macintosh Users: Go to Apple menu, then select "Software Update"
- Symantec, maker of Norton Antivirus
- McAfee, maker of McAfee virusscan
- Frisk Software, maker of F-Prot Antivirus (used to protect cwdMail)
If you connect to the Internet with a dial-up modem, you should use a firewall software program. Users of Windows XP can enable the Internet connection firewall that comes with Windows. You can also purchase a commercial program such as BlackICE or ZoneAlarm. These programs all work to do the same thing: they prevent unsolicited communications from outside your computer from reaching it. Firewalls are the second line of defense against programs that attack operating system vulnerabilities. (The first line of defense is updating your operating system itself.)
If you connect to the Internet using broadband (cable mode, DSL, or other high-speed, always on connection), you are better off using a hardware firewall. Most new broadband modems include a built-in firewall. Like a software firewall, the hardware firewall blocks unsolicited incoming traffic, which prevents worms and other malicious programs running on other computers from attacking your computer and compromising it.
- Turning On the Internet Connection Firewall in Windows XP
- Frequently Asked Questions About Internet Firewalls from Microsoft
- Symantec, maker of Norton Personal Firewall
- McAfee, maker of McAfee Personal Firewall Plus
For More Information
- Protect Your PC from Microsoft
November 18, 2003
Last Updated: Wednesday March 16, 2005 16:45:16
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