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10 fixes for your worst PC security nightmares

Tips to ensure your PC is a lot safer

Most security attacks are targeted at a few weak points on your PC that aren't that hard to protect. Follow these simple tips, and you'll suddenly be a whole lot safer

Fix 5: Get the jump on fast-moving malware

Traditional, signature-based antivirus software is getting snowed under by a blizzard of malware. Attackers try to evade detection by churning out more variants than security labs can analyse. So besides signatures, any antivirus program worth its salt today uses proactive detection that doesn't require a full signature to spot sneaky malware.

One promising approach uses behavioural analysis to identify malicious software based solely on how it acts on your PC. But your antivirus software by itself may not be enough. ThreatFire, a popular free download from PC Tools, adds such a layer of behaviour-based protection. In recent tests, it correctly identified 90 percent of malware based on its behaviour alone.

Note: If you use the AVG Free antivirus program, hold off on trying ThreatFire until PC Tools releases a new version. The current 3.5 version conflicts with AVG, but PC Tools says it's working on a fix.

Fix 6: Rescue your inbox from spam

Spam filters are getting better, but some junk still makes it through even the best of them. Instead of resigning yourself to hitting delete for all those hot-stock and Viagra come-ons, try disposable email addresses.

Such an address is something you create every time you encounter an online shopping site, forum, or other service that requires you to enter an email address. If that address gets flooded with spam, you can terminate it. That's a better system than the alternative, creating a free webmail account that you use only for purchases and web signups. With a single separate account, you have to throw the baby out with the bathwater and cancel the whole account if it gets too much spam.

Yahoo webmail users can opt for the $20 (£10)-a-year Plus service, which includes the AddressGuard disposable email service (among other benefits). With it, you can click a bookmark to create a new, disposable address for any given site in about 10 seconds.

Gmail users can simply append '+ whatever' to their regular email address before handing it out, but if that address starts to receive spam you can't simply turn it off. You'll have to create a filter in Gmail to block all mail to that address.

For everyone else, we suggest a good, free service from Spamgourmet.com, that's quick and easy to set up and use; it allows you to create disposable addresses on-the-fly that will forward email messages to your regular address.

NEXT PAGE: Develop an antiphishing habit

  1. Tips to ensure your PC is a lot safer
  2. Let the latest browsers fight for you
  3. Get the jump on fast-moving malware
  4. Develop an antiphishing habit
  5. More quick fixes

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