Technology At Home

What can you do?

Prevention. Whoever thought we would use the term, “safe computing.” Safe computing means being cautious with all downloads – scan first BEFORE you open them. Be suspicious of all e-mail from people or addresses that are unfamiliar. Delete without opening e-mail from addresses that are an alphabet soup of letters. Delete without guilt. Do not put your school or business e-mail address into any online form that offers free music downloads. If you will be playing around with web-based forms, get a free e-mail address from yahoo or hotmail and use that. It will fill up with spam in no time.

Good behaviors! If you are a Windows user, visit the Windows Update pages frequently at: You may wish to personalize Windows updates to scan for available updates regularly. Windows vulnerabilities are discovered all the time.

Antivirus and Firewall Software

You may have very good virus checking software but still be vulnerable to holes and cracks in your Windows.Anitivirus and firewall software! Many antivirus software packages are now sold as full Internet security suites. A firewall is a necessity if your access is via DSL or cable modem service. DSL and cable modem network access is “always on.” This invites malicious sniffing around your access and network attacks. A firewall will check incoming and outgoing computer processes to make sure that they are within security levels you have set. It is a must.

Antivirus software with frequent virus signature updates is also a must. Many antivirus software applications will automatically check all mail messages, attachments, and downloads. Favorite security suites include Symantec's Norton Internet Security and McAfee Internet Security Suite.


A more recent bothersome invader is spyware. Spyware is sort of like sophisticated cookies that sit in your computer memory and send information to “who knows whom” about all the Web sites you visit. It slows down your computer and invades your privacy. Luckily there are a few inexpensive tools that can scan and clean this stuff up. One of the most highly reputed is SpyBot and it is free. Donations are accepted. Ad-Aware is also free and useful. Try them out and see all the stuff Web sites have left on your machine as you visited. And don't forget to clean out your Internet Explorer “temp” files from time to time. Just pull down the Tools menu and select Tools | Internet Options | General | Temporary Internet Files | Delete Files.