We’ve all heard the stories of PC viruses, malware, and other cyber-nasties lurking the in the shadows of the information super highway. These nefarious entities exist for one purpose – to make your virtual life miserable. The only thing more intimidating than a PC virus is trying to come up with a defense to protect your PC. But there are things even the most non-techie can do to help insure safe web surfing.
But first, a reality check – you know that no matter how well you maintain your car at some point in time you will need a mechanic to service it. Likewise, there will come a time your PC will need the attention of a professional. But like your car, if you take good care of your computer you can minimize problems. So what are the PC equivalents of keeping your oil changed?
Keep your Operating System Updated
If you use Windows/Vista you have to stay up-to-date. If not, it is like leaving your car unlocked and the key in the ignition. For Windows/Vista go to the following website:
As impervious as you Mac people think you are, you still need to stay updated.
On a Mac, click “Apple”, “Software Update…”, and follow the prompts.
An Updated Antivirus Program is a Must
An antivirus and antispyware program with the latest updates is your best defense. Think of it as a full time mechanic working 24-7 monitoring and cleaning your PC.
Picking a good antivirus/antispyware program is what stalls most PC users. The number of options can make you feel like a deer in the headlights.
If you are home user I like AVG. It is free for non-commercial use. You can download it from the follow website:
However, this free version offers no tech support.
For your business/organization you can purchase a fully supported version of the AVG program from:
Other popular PC security suites are offered by Norton, McAfee, and Trend Micro. These are the most popular and are always in a race to be the best security product. The good news is that over the years competition has distilled these security programs so that they are all good choices. The important thing is to have one in place and keep it updated.
If you want some “extra-credit” reading, here’s a good article explaining PC viruses written by the University of Houston Downtown.
If your antivirus/antispyware program is your man on the inside, a firewall is the guard at the door blocking suspicious code entry into your system.
Windows/Vista comes with a firewall that provides a level of protection and is turned on by default. To make sure, go to Control Panel and click Security. Many of the security suites (AVG, Norton, McAfee, and Trend Micro) include a firewall and will disengage the Windows firewall. These third-party firewalls tend to be more robust but have more overhead on your system. Think of the Windows/Vista firewall as the college kid you hire to be the bouncer at your club. It’s better than nothing, right. A third-party firewall is the bodybuilder bouncer with real security training. And while he is more intimidating, he costs more and may even scare a few potential legitimate customers.
Use a Safe Browser
Let me say that I have nothing against Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) browser. But Firefox is a safer and faster browser. Do I need to say more?
You can download Firefox from:
For more info read my blog post about browser safety at
Every PC user should have a backup plan. Most do not. I will address this in more detail in a future post.
And Now a Warning…
It’s time for my “and now a warning” segment.
Following this advice will not make your PC a Fort Knox. But it will help make your PC and online journey safer and more fun.