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Tips For Avoiding Spyware & Viruses

Updated on October 16, 2009
Warning! Spyware Detected!
Warning! Spyware Detected!

Spyware Troubles?

Its quite aggravating when popup windows start appearing for no good reason.

If you've had this happen when  you weren't surfing the internet, it can become more perplexing.  If this is the case, chances are you have been infected with spyware or some other form of malicious software.

How do you get it, and how do you stop it from coming back? We are going to take a look at ten easy ways to stop malware and viruses from making their way onto your personal computer.

Ten Easy Steps

1. Use a Firewall

The purpose of a firewall is to block unwanted access to your computer while still permitting normal authorized communications. In other words, you can connect to your favorite websites, while stopping hackers from accessing your computer network. Firewalls also prevent other malicious software (like spyware and viruses) from making there way onto your computer.

Microsoft has included a built-in firewall with its Windows software since Windows XP was introduced. However other software (like ZONEALARM Internet Security Suite) and hardware options are available to those who want to have a little more flexibility and added piece-of-mind.

2. Take advantage of free anti-malware tools

While some of the best security software available is waiting for you at your local electronics store, don't forget that there is a variety of free tools available online for free. Consider using programs like Ad-Aware, MalwareBytes' AntIMalware and SpyBot Search & Destroy.

3. Don't forget other security software

Don't leave all the work to your firewall and anti-malware software. Remember to use anti-virus applications (like AVG Free) to prevent Trojan horses and viruses from making their way onto your PC. Make certain to keep your software up-to-date to ensure the best possible protection.

4. Keep your Windows up-to-date.

Hackers are always finding new ways to exploit existing security flaws and holes within the Windows environment. Microsoft releases patches to these bugs for its operating systems on a regular basis. Keeping your operating system up-to-date will help prevent others from exploiting vulnerabilities in your system..

5. Avoid using peer-to-peer file-sharing services.

Applications like BitTorrent and Lime Wire are very popular with web-surfers who want to listen to the latest music, watch the hottest movies, and use the latest software available. For those trying to download illegal copies, be aware that your download might not be legit and you might be downloading a virus or some spyware.

6. Be cautious with e-mail attachments
Most viruses spread through the use of e-mail attachments. A tempting e-mail (naked pictures of Britney Spears or a free copy of software) may be a prime suspect. Before opening the file, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Was the e-mail from someone you know and trust?
  • Was this e-mail expected?
  • Can the sender confirm that the e-mail in question indeed come from them?

If the answer was 'no' to any of the questions, chances are that the attachment is bad news.

7. Be cautions of links in e-mails, IM profiles and IM messages.

You should treat links in the same manner as you would with e-mail attachments. If you receive something suspicious, don't click on it, and don't open it.

Some web-based e-mail services (like Gmail or Yahoo Mail) scan incoming messages for threats before alllowing you to access them. This can allow you to feel more secure about any e-mails you receive.

8. Don't install something without knowing what you are installing.

Have you ever seen an ad informing you that you may be infected with spyware and you should install its software. Be cautious before you do, as some malware poses as legitimate software in order to get you to install it. Don't be fooled. Find out everything you can about the software before considering it.

Some legitimate software companies bundles spyware with their products. Make certain to read the EULA (End User License Agreement) as it mightl inform you of that. Once again, don't rely strictly on the company's word. Check forums and shareware/freeware sites since not all of them will warn you about the additional programs.

9. Don't visit adult or warez sites.

Some adult and warez sites can plague you with spyware and trojan viruses. Web-filtering and monitoring software like NetNanny can help block out the troubling sites.

10. Use Firefox

Like Windows, Internet Explorer is filled with security holes and can be quite buggy. Its use of ActiveX causes more security problems, as it allows the browser to access other (and sometimes harmful) programs. Once the malicious software is installed, its removal and repair to Internet Explorer can be aggrivating.

Due to its open-source nature and non-support of ActiveX, Firefox is a much safer alternative for web surfers.

Other Places For Help

While a great number of free options are mentioned in this hub, you may wish to look at other options. Don't hesitate to contact a local retailer about software and hardware options that can help you.

In Canada:
Beatties Basics
Best Buy
Future Shop

In the U.S:
Best Buy
Circuit City

Radio Shack



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