Protecting Yourself on the Web

by Keith Williams

Since the dawn of its creation the World Wide Web has constantly changed the way we as people share and distribute information. The Internet became available for commercial use in 1990 and immediately changed the landscape of how information was sent and delivered amongst friends and family. Almost as soon as the Internet came online the invention of email made it easier for people to communicate ideas to others in a timelier manner, along with the invention of email came the birth of the first computer related virus. These early versions of viruses where originally attached or included in emails and didn't possess very much malicious code; however these viruses, once opened and exposed were easy to distribute and they created headaches for those unfortunate enough to come across one of them.

As the Internet began gaining in popularity more people started using it for personal purposes and individuals that had the knowledge and desire to wreak havoc started creating more and more viruses and the need for more protection became evident. Antivirus software companies were launched with the specific intent of providing software solutions to personal computer users in an attempt to help them protect their information and investments. What most people don't realize is that they can take additional steps to help with the protection of their equipment, as well as their sensitive information. Common sense is the #1 ingredient to computer protection.

If you are going to be spending a lot of time on the Internet, especially on a daily basis, say to perform work for a business or to keep track of your own online business ventures, the first thing you will want to do is establish a strong Internet security system. Keep in mind that regardless of how much protection you install on your personal system, new zero day viruses can be launched that will possess the capability to slip through the security you have in place, so always use good judgment when visiting websites across the Internet. If you're not familiar with the website or it isn't found on a list of trusted sites, then you should take precaution when browsing through the site and avoid clicking on any of the links that are present on the page.

In conjunction with using good Internet habits, one procedure that is highly recommended for people that use the Internet extensively is to create back-up files for all of the information you do not want to lose. Store your back-up files on a CD or a flash drive in case you accidentally contract a virus and it destroys the files where the information was originally stored on the computer. Flash drives are smaller and easier to store than Cd's and are capable of storing as much, if not more than a CD, and are more damage resistant, which makes them the preferred method of file storage for back-up purposes.

Computer users also need to make sure they have a sufficient firewall system in place. Firewalls can be hardware or software based. Computer systems these days usually come with an internal firewall built in which can be adjusted and configured to individual preferences. These firewalls are normally set at the factory to the highest level to ensure the computer has the maximum amount of protection available when the customer opens it for the first time. It is recommended that computer owners leave this setting at the highest level in order to enjoy the amount of protection offered.

Antivirus software programs are also a great idea to have installed on your computer system. These packages are also a form of firewall that allow users the opportunity to configure better security options and make it harder for viruses to infect the computer system. These software programs usually require several updates throughout the year in order to keep them effective, so downloading and installing the new updates when they are available and offered is necessary in order to ensure the integrity of the security they provide.

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