Stuff to keep you safe
Here are a few tools you can install on your Windows PC to prevent, remove and diagnose problems with your computer. For the most part, if you follow the tips on this page, you should really only need to install one of the first two products in the list below.
All of these products are free or provide a free limited version of their product.
- Security Essentials - Microsft's Free Antivirus and AntiMalware Solution.
- Avast! Antivirus - These guys have been at it for a while now. The home version is free
- Malware Bytes Free - Great for clean ups
- SysInternals - Advanced (learn more)
Some Safe Browsing habits
Below are some tips to help keep you, your information and computer safe on the internet.
Note: This guide was originally part of a student handout but has been modified and made available here for the purpose of helping you.
- Do not give phone numbers, addresses, social security numbers or any other sensitive information out
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
- If you're logging into a web page that requires a user name and password or any other sensitive information, make sure that web page is actually the page you were attempting to go to - Some pages take advantage of common mispellings or are simply created to look like a specific site in order to lure you into giving them your info. This practice is called phishing.
- Do not install anything without knowing exactly what it is and where it came from.
- Do not click on Pop-Up or Pop-Under windows. Messages that claim you've won something or that your are the millionth visitor or state your computer is infected with a virus and needs to be cleaned up, are almost always scams to get you to click on their links. These vague and shady advertising practices should be avoided like the plague.
- If you have to sign up for access to a site verify that the site does not sell their email distribution lists or information. Sites that sell this type of information are the cause for lots of spam email and phishing attempts, whether they know it or not.
- If you are unsure about using your email on a web site, it may be better to create a free email account at a site, like hotmail.com, gmail.com or yahoo.com.
- When doing a search, read the small snippet of information around or below the link before clicking on it. Sometimes the words you are searching with will bring up a site with nonsensical information or other words in the description. These types of site usually lead you down a path to spyware and viruses. Be wary of any links on these types of pages, they may infect your computer if you open them.
- Do not open unknown emails and/or attachments.
- Avoid the following types of sites:
- Pornography of any kind
- Warez (illegally cracked or pirated software)
- Free games, graphics, smileys, or screen savers
- Free music, music lyrics, or sheet music
- Peer-to-peer file sharing site and programs
- Carefully read pop-up warnings. If you don't expect to install a program or if you aren't sure what the program does, cancel the installation process. It's common practice for shady websites to try to trick you into staying on their page by using carefully worded messages in alert boxes. If you ever find your self stuck on one of these types of pages, it's often best to close the window completely and start a whole new browsing session.
- If you are going to a secure site, such as an online banking site, make sure the address starts with https. This means the site is communicating with you in a secure way. It's best to avoid sites all together if they are using https and you receive a "Certificate Error" message. Most browsers will quickly provide a visual indicator if a site's certificate is shady (i.e. a red address bar).
These tips should put you in the right direction to help protect you from most of troubles out on the internet. You can now use your safe browsing habits to go out on the internet and start learning more about how to protect yourself online.