By far, the most common place to pick up Spyware, Viruses or other Malware is from the Internet. I thought I would put together a few tips to help you avoid these unwanted pests.
- When running a search on Google, Yahoo or some of the other search engines, you can actually see the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) link that the results are pointing to. Look at this link BEFORE clicking on the link. If it’s going to some obscure location (like toms_deep_dark_well_of_trouble.net or answers.x_345_jklm_no_123.org ), you should probably steer clear of this link – would you trust the information they are providing any way?
- Avoid links to foreign countries, especially third world countries. The W3C standards list possible extensions for every kind of website in the world. Besides the obivous extenstions of .com, .net, and .org (which are meant to be US only extensions), each country has their own extension (yes, there is a .us), .ru – is for Russia, .it is Italy, etc. Stay away from the sites in third world countries – they spell trouble.
- If you are on a “always on” connection (DSL, Cable Modem, etc), install a firewall. Zone Alarm makes a great firewall that is free and is easy to install. If you are running a home network, you will probably want to look at a different product but for 1 or 2 computers, Zone Alarm is the way to go. There are other firewalls out there that do as good or better of a job but some are more intrusive with pop-ups than Zone Alarm.
- Don’t open an email from someone you don’t know. If you have reading pane turned on, turn it off. Especially avoid emails from those reaching out to you to help them in their time of trouble.
- When you click on a link, the link is displayed in both the URL Address Lookup and the status bar at the bottom of the window. If they don’t match – you should probably run – especially if they are pointing to totally different locations.
- If you get a pop-up on your desktop that informs you your computer is infected, Don’t Click Here! That is how several different pieces of Malware install to your computer. Use only reputable Malware detection tools.
- Don’t install anything unless you know that is exactly what you want. Several “free” sites install their product plus a bunch of other apps. The Hotbar (smilies you can put in your email) is an example of freeware that can be installed that is Malware. Hotbar spreads like wildfire 🙂 .