Surfing Habits to Prevent Spyware & Viruses
If your computer has been infected
with spyware or a virus, chances are you couldn't pinpoint exactly where
you got it from, unless you downloaded one of the well known spyware programs
such as Kazaa. So, if you don't know how you got it, how can you avoid
it? If you follow some simple rules to help keep your computer safe, you
will greatly reduce your odds of a spyware or adware infected computer.
Check for updates
Always keep your computer updated. If you don't have various programs
on auto-update, it is important to check for updates at least once a week.
Once an exploit is known, it doesn't take long for hackers to begin expoiting
it themselves. These programs are the ones you should make a habit of
updating regularly, or setting up for auto-updates
- Microsoft Windows Update
(click here for another article on updating
- Email program (Outlook
and Outlook Express will update itself through the windows update,
but if you use any other email client, you should update it.)
- AntiVirus program. If
you you choose to only update a single program, this should be it.
Viruses are unleashed every day, and you don't want to be caught with
a month-old update when the virus you just received in your in box
is only a week old.
- Internet browser. Again,
Internet Explorer will update automatically through the Windows Update,
but if you use another browser, you should keep it updated.
- Instant messaging programs.
Always use the most up-to-date version.
Say NO to installers
Yes, some sites will prompt you to install programs that are perfectly
safe, such as Macromedia Flash or the Real Time Player. But others will
prompt you to install toolbars, spyware, adware, trojans, and many other
nasties that could destroy your computer or subject you to non-stop advertising
- including pop-ups that certainly would not be considered family friendly.
Certain recognizable names, such as Macromedia, Microsoft or Apple are
generally safe. But if you don't recognize the name, it is better to be
safe than sorry and click cancel. If you think you really need it, write
down the name of the program and company name, and do a search for it
to see if it comes up as a spyware or adware problem.
Avoid Bad Neighborhoods
Just like you would avoid certain areas of major cities after dark, you
will want to do the same thing when surfing online. The most common distributors
of spyware and adware are sites that offer adult content, free music downloads,
free casino-type games, and cracked / hacked software. Download anything
from these types of sites, you can almost guarantee you will be downloading
spyware or adware that will profit the site you downloaded from.
Investigate the Free Software
You have found a cool download for a card game. But how do you know the
only thing that will install is the card game itself? Do a quick search
for the name of the file or the card game, and see if anything comes up
about it being spyware or adware. This quick one-minute search could save
you hours of time cleaning up the mess later.
Check Your Browser Internet
In Internet Explorer, click on Tools, Options, then Security. You can
adjust your internet security options, such as only allowing ActiveX to
run after you are prompted for it (spyware often arrives in an ActiveX
application). You should set your internet security ranking at medium.
If it is set higher, you could find that some websites will no longer
By following these simple tips,
you can greatly reduce the chances of your computer being infected with
spyware and adware.
For full details on
checking for spyware and adware, please read our article Checking
for Spyware & Adware