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    Tech 101: Protecting My Computer from Viruses

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    Geo Beats

    by Geo Beats

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    Tech 101: Protecting My Computer from Viruses - as part of the expert series by GeoBeats. There are a number of things you can do to protect yourself from viruses. Firstly and foremostly, you need a good antivirus program. You do not necessarily need a full internet security program. Internet security is a number of programs all bundled together. It tends to be antivirus software, which you definitely need, a firewall. There is already a firewall built into Windows, which works very very well, so I personally feel that second-party firewall software is unnecessary. Other things that Internet security software will offer you are password protection, parental controls, and spam scanning. If you do not have kids and you do not get your mail through a program like Outlook Express, you do not need parental controls or spam scanning, and I am not a big fan of password protection inside the computer. So, my personal feeling is that a good antivirus program is sufficient, but you need to know what it is so that you can recognize it in your system, and you need to know how to at least update it and run a scan yourself. These are really important things. It is like knowing how to check the air in your tires in your car. Your Windows updates are up-to-date and coming in automatically. Again, updates for third-party software like Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash, or Java need to be kept up-to-date and updating automatically. Close your browser. Now people will say, “What the heck is a browser?” the “Browser” is a technical term for the program that gets you on to the internet and from one place to another. The most popular browser on a PC would be Internet Explorer. It is that big blue “e” icon. Again, it is just a program that gets you from one place to another on the internet. But lots of people like to log in to their email or to a website like Facebook and leave it open for hours and hours. What we have learned is that this degrades the security of the browser. So, if you think of your browser security kind of like a sentry that you have hired to watch things, he is fine for a while, but if you leave him there too long, he is going to get tired, and he is going to miss something. And that is what happens with a browser, so one of the best things you can do in addition to keeping an antivirus program on your system and all you updates in place is to periodically close your browser. Only have it open when you need it, and close it when you do not need it. Turn your computer off when you go to bed at night. There is a lot of controversy about this. I hear constantly people say, “I have been told to leave my computer on.” I feel the person these days who tells you to leave your computer on all the time intends to sell you your next computer. The best thing you can do to avoid a virus is to turn your computer off. When there is no power to the machine, nothing can get in. If you happen to get a minor infection and you leave your computer on, this allows the virus to replicate itself, and pretty soon, you will be completely infected and unable to get the viruses out.