If you use a computer on the Internet, which you must if you are reading this, then you must protect yourself from evildoers. You do not need to be a computer geek to protect yourself; just a few simple precautions will protect you from most attempts to harm your computer system or to take money from you.
Microsoft Windows is the predominate operating system used on home computers, so it is a choice target for evildoers. To protect your Windows computer, install all security updates issued by Microsoft. Viruses continue to exploit old vulnerabilities because many users do not update regularly, which leaves your system at risk and puts your friends and family at greater risk since you may pass a virus to them in your email.
Windows vulnerabilities are constantly being discovered, so visit the Windows Update Center at least weekly to ensure you have all critical patches. Better yet, while you are at the update site, turn on the ‘Automatic Update’ option.
When your computer is connected to the Internet, other computers may connect with your computer and download or upload data from it. A firewall prevents attackers from connecting to your computer and doing harm, or, if attackers have already infected your computer with a virus or spyware, it prevents your computer from sending information to the Internet without your permission.
- Install and use a firewall; no Internet connection is safe without one, not even a dial-up connection.
- You may use the firewall included in Windows XP (it must be enabled), download a free firewall, purchase a firewall, or use a firewall furnished by your Internet service provider.
- Use a firewall that protects outgoing as well as incoming connections.
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