8 Steps to making your new computer safe when you connect to the Internet: Internet ScamBusters™ #108
The #1 Publication on Internet Fraud
By Audri and Jim Lanford
Copyright © Audri and Jim Lanford
All rights reserved.
We decided to start the New Year by tweaking the look of Internet ScamBusters
a little bit — hope you like it.
Today we’re going to provide some step-by-step advice on how to stay safe when
you get a new computer. This advice is also useful with your current computer
to help protect you from a variety of scams, including identity theft and credit
card fraud — see if you have missed any of these 8 steps to staying safe.
Beware: New Computers May Bear Unwanted Christmas Gifts:
8 Steps to Staying Safe When You Connect to the Internet
If you receive a new computer for Christmas, chances are high that it will come
without the latest security patches and with outdated antivirus software. Yet,
many people wrongly assume that their new computers are ready to ‘plug and play.’
Since over 1,300 new viruses were identified just last month — and because many
computers sit in the channel for a number of months — it’s important that you
take a few minutes to secure your new computer and protect yourself before you
connect to the Internet and start surfing.
Here are 8 steps to help you stay safe — whether or not you have a new computer:
1. Install a firewall. Recent independent tests show that without a firewall,
a standard PC that is connected to the Internet can be compromised in 10 to 20
minutes! For more info on firewalls,
2. Update your operating system with the latest security patches. It’s important
to do this before you do anything else (besides Step 1).
In Windows, select ‘Windows Update’ from the Start Menu’s ‘All Program’ list.
On the Mac, you can select ‘Software Update’ under the Apple Menu. It’s a good
idea to set your computer to automatically get future updates.
3. Install and/or update antivirus software. Since many computers only come with
90 days of antivirus software protection, be sure to write the expiration date
on your calendar.
4. Download and install Firefox as your Web browser. Firefox is much more secure
than Microsoft Internet Explorer.
In fact, The Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness
Team has gotten so fed up with these Microsoft Internet Explorer vulnerabilities
that they have recommended that consumers switch to a different browser.
We agree with this recommendation to switch browsers. There are just too many
security holes in Microsoft Internet Explorer. Whereas it certainly is true that
no browser is completely secure, we believe that using Microsoft Internet Explorer
is not worth the security risks.
Our favorite browser is Firefox. Click this link:
Mac users can use Safari or Firefox.
5. Install one or more good anti-spyware programs. Spyware, adware, scumware,
etc. are very serious problems for PC users. We’ve written a good deal about spyware
— click here.
6. Update other Internet programs. Older versions of programs like RealNetwork’s
RealPlayer, Sun Microsystems’s Java software and Microsoft’s Windows Media Player
all can suffer from security problems. Update older versions of these and other
programs you use:
7. Use common sense. Be skeptical and careful when you’re on the Internet and
checking email. Don’t download email attachments, even from friends.
8. Be very careful about where you give out your personal information. Always
make sure that any website you buy from uses a secure server. (The Web address
should start with https:// rather than just http:// and there should be a padlock
visible on the bottom of your browser window.)
Don’t fall for phishing scams or attempts to steal your identity — they are getting
more and more sophisticated each week.
Follow these 8 steps to help keep your computer safe from computer viruses and
spyware, Internet scams, and identity theft.
We wish you a safe, healthy, and productive beginning to this New Year.