The task of protecting your PC from infection is similar to crossing a busy road unharmed.
There are two, very different ways of crossing that road:
The first way is to be very careful about where you cross and to be watchful and aware of the dangers. In other words, make sure you don't get hit.
The other approach is to protect yourself with something like an army tank and cross anywhere, anytime. If you get hit, you rely on the tank to protect you.
Now no sensible person would adopt the latter approach to crossing a road, yet when it comes to computer security that's exactly what many folks do.
If you want real computer security, you need to adopt safe computing practices rather than rely totally on security products to protect you. No security product or combination of products can or ever will, provide perfect PC security just like no car can provide you with perfect road safety. With both cars and PCs you need to be careful in your own behavior.
Like the rules of road safety we teach our kids, the rules for safe computing are simple and well known:
1. Be very careful where you surf. To help you stay away from bad sites install a website rating browser plug-in like WOT and make sure you only visit websites rated "Green" by the plug-in.
2. Never click on email attachments from unknown sources however tempting and attractive such attachments may seem.
3. Only download files from trusted sources. These include:
- Files hosted on reputable download sites such as download.com, snapfilescom, softpedia.com, majorgeeks.com and other similar sites.
- Files mentioned in the editorial sections of major computer websites and publications such as PC World, CNet, Windows Secrets, Lifehacker and of course, Gizmo's Freeware.
- Open source software hosted on sourceforge.net, Mozilla.org and similar large open source sites.
- Files available for download from Microsoft, Google, HP, Dell and other reputable vendors.
4. Never install programs obtained from P2P networks including BitTorrent, eMule, LimeWire and others as many of these files are infected with malicious programs. Some of these malicious programs are so powerful they are capable of overwhelming all your security defenses.
5. Never install programs that friends give you on removable media unless you have verified that they are clean by submitting them to free web based file scanning services such as Jotti or Virus Total.
6. Never accept free toolbars, media players or other unsolicited software offered to you by a website.
By following these simple rules the chances of your PC becoming infected will be dramatically reduced. Combine these practices with appropriate security software and you are well on the way to safe, secure, infection-free computing.
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