Having the latest software patches helps protect you. Tell Windows Update to automatically download at a convenient time by choosing Start, Control Panel, System. Click the Automatic Updates tab and choose the update time and frequency, then click Apply, ok.
IE 7.0 provides the most up-to-date protection against cyber attacks, including phishing and browser hijacking. You will be prompted to turn on antiphishing protection after the installation reboot, or you can turn it on by clicking Tools, Phishing Filter, Turn On Automatic Website Checking.
Operating systems older than XP SP2 can’t run IE 7.0, so install an antiphishing toolbar. Try TrustWatch (trustwatch.com), or use a browser with antiphishing protection such as Firefox 2.0. In Opera 9.2, click the question mark next to the address line to perform a fraud check.
Ensure your security software is up-to-date and run scans weekly. Commercial products offer the most airtight security, but you can combine several freebies such as AVG (grisoft.com or on our DVD) or AOL Active Virus Shield (activevirusshield.com). Run Windows Defender as well.
Many phishing attempts will arrive in your inbox. Installing an antispam filter will turn them away. Outlook has a built-in filter, but you can beef it up with a free product such as Spamfighter (spamfighter.com). Use its toolbar to set up an email address or domain name black list.
A firewall will help protect you. Most routers include robust hardware firewalls, but if you’re on dialup use a software firewall for similar protection. XP SP2 includes one. To check that it’s there and running, choose Start, Run, type firewall.cpl, then click ok. On the General tab, make sure On is selected.
Sandboxie (sandboxie.com) creates a virtual ‘sandbox’ between websites and your system Registry, preventing rogue software from installing. Right-click your browser icon at launch and choose Run Sandboxed. A ‘#’ sign appears at the top to say it’s running safely in the sandbox.
Technology isn’t the only way to secure your system. The best security tool is your brain. Be sensible. Avoid dodgy websites, don’t download pirated software or files, research software online before installing it, and never, ever, click on an email link to a banking or shopping website.