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					Safe Surfing 101

       Before you begin your next World Wide Web Surfing Safari, make sure you have
protected your computer against viruses and other forms of online funk. Basic protection
against unwanted intrusion is not difficult to achieve, and generally involves four steps.

   1. Get a firewall. A firewall is a protective barrier between your home computer and
      bad stuff on the Internet. If you are using Windows XP you already have a firewall;
      all you need to do is turn it on. On your Windows XP desktop click Start, click
      Control Panel, click Network and Internet Connections, and then click Network
      Connections. Click the Internet Connection that you want to protect. On the
      resulting pop-up menu click Properties, and then click the Advanced tab. At the top
      of this menu you will see a check box that says “Protect my computer…” Put a
      check mark in that box, click “OK,” exit all of your menus and you are done. If you
      are using a different operating system than XP, you can easily download and install
      a firewall program from the Internet. I recommend Sygate Personal Firewall. It’s a
      free download from http://smb.sygate.com/products/spf_standard.htm, and has
      received generally favorable reviews.
   2. Bring your operating system up to date. If you are running most Microsoft
      Windows operating systems, you will have an icon on your Start menu called
      Windows Update. Sign on to your Internet connection, then click that button and
      then follow the instructions on your screen. Microsoft will examine your computer
      and arrange a list of all the security updates, patches, service packs and bug fixes
      that currently exist for your operating system and for Internet Explorer. With your
      permission it will download and automatically install them for you.
   3. Get some antivirus software, and make sure it is up to date as well. You must
      make sure to update your antivirus software regularly because new viruses are
      being introduced all the time. These updates will generally be easy and free. To
      update your software, you typically open your Internet connection then double-click
      on your antivirus icon on the taskbar at the bottom right side of your desktop screen.
      This will open your antivirus menu. Look for a button that says Update. If you need
      an antivirus program and, like me, you are too cheap to pay for it I would
      recommend AVG for Windows. It’s a free download from
      http://free.grisoft.com/freeweb.php/doc/2, and seems to work just fine.
   4. Get adware protection. There are some very fine adware and pop-up blockers to
      be had, some of which have been integrated into the newest generations of
      antivirus programs. Adware are programs that are installed on your computer by
      advertisers to track your surfing patterns. New legislation is attempting to outlaw
      them, but in the mean time if you need a good protection program, try Spybot
      Search and Destroy. Once again this is a free, no-brainer download to be had from
      http://www.safer-networking.org/en/index.html.



--Matthew Poole is Information Technology Department Chair at National College of
Business & Technology, Salem Campus.