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Online Security

Continuing on from last time, I'm going to look a bit deeper into internet and email security, as it is the most important part of using the web by far. So, where do you start? The first thing you need is a Firewall. I've already mentioned this before and the best free one is probably Zone Alarm, downloadable from

The next thing is to ensure you have a working and up to date Internet Security Software Suite - Anti-Virus Software simply isn't enough nowadays! This means getting a suite of software that includes Anti-Virus, Anti-Spyware, Anti-Phishing (and Anti-Everything) software, plus possibly Anti-Spam for your email.
For a standard PC, there are lots of options to buy, like Norton/Symantec, McAfee, Kaspersky, Bullguard, Panda etc.. These are some of the best known, but not necessarily the best in use. They are all large programs that use up a lot of your PC's resources (Memory and CPU/Processor capacity) and significantly slow down your PC! The best is probably Vipre, which is much smaller & faster (downloadable from This will not significantly affect the speed of your PC, but is at least as efficient, if not more so! It is also available with a built-in Firewall and is about the best protection you can buy. However, before you spend your hard-earned cash, there are also free alternatives, like Microsoft's Security Essentials. While not the best, this is good enough for most people's use.

On top of this, you also need deep-scan Anti-Malware Software, which you run on a regular basis, either manually, or by scheduling it. Free ones (upgradeable by purchasing) include Exterminate-It and, Malwarebytes, which I have found to be better and easier to use. IObit Security 360 is another useful one, which is good at finding 'Tracking Cookies'. 'Cookies' are little bits of software that are downloaded to your PC, that keep information about your visit to a website (viewing preferences, recent activity etc.). Tracking Cookies are much the same, but track your browsing and other activity for advertising and other purposes , I.e., deciding which ads to show you when you visit a web site, based on your previous behaviour (what you viewed/bought).

Cookies are mostly harmless. Tracking Cookies mostly are too, but you may want to disable or remove them, or find out what they are. Disabling Cookies completely however is not a great idea, as you'll find many sites that you regularly visit don't remember your preferences, or may not let you log in/purchase. However, none of this software will do you much good if it (and Windows, or whatever Operating System you use) is out of date! Updates to Windows, Mac OS, all major programs (Adobe Reader, Flash, etc.) and all anti-Malware software is updated regularly and needs to be kept up to date! Without wishing to alarm anyone, be aware that there are something like 70,000 new Malware Threats every day - yes, that's every DAY!

Keeping up to date is simple, but needs to be done with care. All of these programs are likely to let you know that there is an update available via a pop-up window and, as discussed before, pop-ups are not to be trusted. The best way, when this happens is to close the pop-up, open your favourite browser (Firefox is mine, but you may prefer Internet Explorer, Opera, or Chrome, etc.) and go direct to the relevant web site by typing it into the address bar, or via a Favourites/Bookmark link you have made and look for the download there. Over time, you will get used to which pop-ups are for real (most will be, to be honest, if you have the software installed, but better to be safe!) and you can then decide which ones to trust. Next, get into a routine of actually running and checking what these programs say. The deep-scan ones like Malwarebytes need to be run manually - unless you pay for the upgrade, when you get scheduling. Once a week is usually OK, but these things can be run in the background while you work, so it's not a big problem. This may take 1-2 hours, maybe more, depending on your PC's speed, no. of programs & amount of data. If, when you run one of these programs, you get a report that something is a Virus/Trojan/Spyware/Adware etc., and don't know what it is, just 'Google' it (or use Yahoo/Ask Jeeves, etc.)

So, Internet Security sorted huh? No way! As previously mentioned, the way you use the web and email is by far THE most important part of Internet Security. Be Aware. Be Vigilant. Be Wary - and above all, be Suspicious! Don't click on links until you have had a look at where they are going, even when simply searching using Google etc. Not all links are what they seem to be - especially those at the top, which are almost always Paid For Links - ads in other words! Check the actual address! Before downloading anything, 'Google' that too - and look for information or Reviews on it on non-related sites. Note. This site has no affiliation with any of the companies mentioned and we certainly do not get paid for advertising them (if only!). Any software mentioned and recommended are those that we have found and liked. There are MANY others, but take care - as mentioned, they are not all genuine!

And finally, a few words about wireless Security. If you use a public or shared PC (internet cafe, work etc.), make sure you're not being watched and never use it for Internet Banking etc., as even if nobody is watching, it could be wired to catch your data, or somebody using it later could see your old data. When you've finished, go to 'Tools' & erase any browser history etc. Even better, use 'Private Browsing'. Check you can do these things before using such a PC. Much the same goes for wireless. Ensure your own wi-fi network is secure and avoid using public networks for anything like Internet Banking, PayPal, etc.

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