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Driving Your Computer Safely Online

By Debbie Elicksen

Norton Anti-Virus and other protective software are as important to your computer as its operating system. Without it, you're driving blindfolded, backwards on the highway at 100 miles per hour. It’s not a matter of if you’ll crash, it’s when.

There are many gremlins, hackers, and cyber-mosquitoes trying to land inside your computer every second of every minute. Don’t believe me? Check the activity logs on your Norton Anti-Virus. For example, looking at today’s log:

8:57:23 PM, unauthorized access logged and stopped – 17 times

8:57:22 PM, unauthorized access logged and stopped – 13 times

10:29:49 – intrusion prevention monitoring 578 signatures

10:29:48 – intrusion prevention monitoring 578 signatures

In fact, if you don’t have Norton, I suggest you shut down this very minute and run, don’t walk, to Wal-Mart, Staples, or wherever the CDs are sold. I recommend the CD because if you ever need to reload it (re computer system upgrades, etc.), it’s much easier and cheaper than trying to buy another download off the Symantec website. Consider it computer insurance and the cost of driving your computer online. Without it, perhaps you should be arrested for driving without insurance and putting everyone in your address book at risk of a fatal virus or worm. Norton updates daily for a year. I recommend doing this manually every day.

The other two items you need are a firewall and a spyware zapper. Zone Alarm and Norton are two common firewalls that you can buy. You’d be amazed at the alerts on these logs, too. I turn off the log alerts, otherwise the darned window pops up every few seconds and annoys the heck out of you. You can just be comforted to know it’s working without having to see it working.

There are spyware zappers you can buy (it comes with the Norton Security CD), but one of the best, and highly recommended by Microsoft, is Ad-Aware. The good part is you can download this for free from Lavasoft. It zaps much of the spyware that comes with pretty much every spam email plus those excruciating elongated text forwarded jokes and e-cards (both of which I do not read and they are a total nuisance when 90 percent of your business is done via email). Spyware is evil because it launches stuff inside your computer so people can see what you’re doing, and perhaps, some might find a way to infiltrate your files.

The Internet is great for opening a lot of doors re opportunity (work-wise), research, etc, but there are a lot of trolls hiding under the bridge waiting to pounce. I look at buying Norton every year like car insurance. You have to or you risk paying through the nose when a virus crashes your computer. A firewall doesn't really stop a lot from getting in, but it helps keep hackers at bay. (Why would anyone want to hack your computer? Two words: identity theft.)

Anti-virus software is your number one priority. If you only use one of the three, that should be your first choice. Your second priority would be a firewall, and third – Ad Aware. These three things make that big scary world of cyberspace a lot easier to maneuver and you can go about your business virtually undetected.

Read other articles and learn more about Debbie Elicksen.

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