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