Unlike many other stupid people I know, I have NEVER been a victim of identity theft, fraud, ever had to restore my backed up files, dealt with my computer being atrociously slow, or any of that. Now you're probably wondering how that is possible if you're assuming I watch boatloads of porn on the computer all day when I'm not getting busy. Or maybe you didn't read that far into it at all. Heh.
Anyway, before I share how to make your computer “bulletproof,” I must go over some keywords and definitions. This way you'll understand what risks there are.
Adware/Spyware- These are irritating little cookies and other things that try to track your interests for the sake of marketing. They're the least harmful most of the time.
Viruses- Viruses are just like their living counterparts. They make your computer ill by deleting files and do other mischievous things. You can also spread them to other computers with floppy discs, CDs, USB drives, etc.
Worms- They're like viruses except they multiply with the intention of lagging and destroying your computer and anything else it can attach itself to. Unlike viruses, worms don't need you to carelessly transfer them to another computer or network. They do it on their own.
Trojans- This is named after that infamous Trojan Horse in one of them Greek/Roman legends. Pretty much, trojans come packed with goodies you download online. You might think you're just getting a bunch of cool cursors, but somewhere in there is a trojan. You can also get these through downloads from e-mail attachments, P2P, bitorrent, and anything that you can download from.
Malware- Like the name suggests, malware is malicious software. It is often disguised as a helpful program when it's likely to screw you over once you're tricked into downloading and installing it. One of the most efficient way these people get to you is having pop-ups that urge you to download it for your safety.
Keyloggers- Keyloggers log what you type. So if you're entering your debit card number when making online purchases, the keylogger logs it down and sends it to its master so they can buy goods with the information you typed. Keyloggers go after your passwords, social security, bank account, routing numbers, debit, credit, etc.
Rootkit- Rootkits take complete control over your computer. They are notorious for being able to manipulate your own spyware/virus scanners into not detecting them. You need either another source to scan it while your computer isn't running or a special program specifically designed to detect rootkits.
Phishing- Phishing is a bit different where it doesn't get into your computer at all. Instead YOU go to it and end up entering valuable information. Phishing works as a site that is sent to you where it asks you to enter your social, credit card, and all that to confirm or have you join something fake. If you do not have something like an eBay or Paypal account, and you still get e-mails from them, it's likely phishing.
There are so many nasty things out there and people often fall prey to identity theft and have their computer ruined due to their lack of knowledge on these things. All of this is complicating but thankfully preventing infection isn't all that difficult.
1.E-mails: If you don't know the sender, and if there's an attachment, don't open it. If the subject is something ridiculous, be wary.
2.Downloads: Before downloading, do a little research. You could be downloading malware or a site that packs it with nasty things. Only download from a trusted source. When you have downloaded something, have your anti-virus scan it before even opening it. If someone you don't know, IMs you anything with an “exe” file extension, block them and don't open it.
3.Bookmark Your Sites: Sometimes you can make a typo while entering a URL. You go to a different site by accident and you think, “No biggie.” However some of these sites can have viruses. If you have high speed internet, it'll make it more easier to load into your computer. Always Google a URL, and enter the correct site through there. Then bookmark it. A simple typo can do some damage.
4.Make Chain E-mails Private: If you must waste your loved one's time with chain e-mails, at least forward to them individually. If you forward to a buncha people at once, you could accidentally put your friend's on an e-mail spammer's list. Chain e-mails go on and on and you've no idea where they end up. This is one of the ways spammers find your e-mail to spam you even though you don't look at porn.
5.There's No Such Thing as Free Porn: Unless you're me, heh. Anyway don't bother attempting to find virus-free porn, keygen, cracks, etc. sites. You're not going to find any safe porn sites unless they're paid sites. If you really need to get off on something feel free to pay 30$ monthly to these sites or risk destroying your computer or life. It's not worth the risk.
6.Browse on Limited Accounts: Browse the net on a limited account. Browsing the net on an administrator's account is quite risky. Administrators have installation privileges and that makes it easy for malware and the like to make itself at home in your computer.
7.Updates: Always allow your computer to update itself. Doing so will protect your computer from any security loopholes or bugs fixed by your OS's manufacturer/company.
8.Anonymous Browsers: If you're trying to hide your IP by browsing, know that they'll be collecting information from all the sites you've visited behind their proxy. Anonymous Browsers aren't really anonymous at all.
9.Ads on Steroids: It's not a good idea to browse a site with so many ads.
10.Tools: Most importantly, you will need tools to aid you with prevention and cleaning of your computer.
11.User Account Control: I leave this off since I'm pretty much safe. If you're very worried, leave this feature in Windows Vista on. No matter how annoying it is.
12.Check your bank and credit card accounts often: If you see a large amount of cash used and unauthorized by you, file a claim with your bank and credit card IMMEDIATELY.
Computer First Aid Kit
Browsing the Internet can be orgasmic/boring, just like sex. But also like sex, without being cautious or any protection, you're doomed! Here is a list of free and effective tools you can use to fix and protect your computer.
Ad-Aware SE Personal or Ad-Aware 2007 *
Spybot Search & Destroy *
It's a better idea to have just one antivirus. Having two antivirus installed can cause problems where the programs will conflict with eachother.
AVG Free Edition
Avast! Home Edition *
Microsoft Malware Removal *
Free Online Virus Scan
Trend Micro Housecall
McAffe Virus Scan
Toolbars/Browser Plug Ins
McAffe Site Advisor
Ad Block Plus (FireFox)
Sopho's Anti Rootkit *
AVG Anti Rootkit
Default Windows Firewall
Free Up Space
That's quite a lot to download. But no worries. These are only recommendations and freeware with an asterisk are a must have in my opinion. You'll be just fine if you exercise caution, scan your computer monthly, and finish it off with CCleaner. I won't provide you with the link of all these lovely downloads. With the information provided here, you should be able to find it all on your own. If not, this will be the best way for you to learn.
Updated January 1, 2008