Just as we protect our homes and classrooms from outside intruders or inside annoyances, we also have to protect our computers. This article deals with how to prevent annoying pop-ups, how to protect against spyware, and how to avoid viruses. Besides being cautious about what sites you go to and what attachments you open, you can also protect yourself by installing software.
Installing pop-up blockers
Pop-ups were developed as an advertising tactic in the 90s. The way pop-ups work is when you go to a website, a new window opens that contains an advertisement. This is not a threat to Internet safety but just like ads on TV, it is an interruption. These ads can be closed by clicking on the close button, but that takes time, and it is annoying.
Almost as soon as pop-ups started to be used on the web, software was created to block them. Mozilla and Netscape come with pop-up blockers. The more popular browser, Internet Explorer comes with a pop-up blocker only on windows programs newer than 2004. If you use an older version of Internet Explorer you can download pop-up blockers through Google or Yahoo, or just about any other commercial toolbar. To download the Google toolbar, go to toolbar.google.com and click on download. The toolbar will quickly install on your browser toolbar. It will sit right below the menu with “file” and “edit” on it. As pop-ups open on your computer, the toolbar will automatically block them. If it happens that it blocks something you want to see you can click on the icon with the circle and red slash. Clicking on this blocker icon will allow pop-ups on that website. When you are finished, you can click on the blocker again and pop-ups will be blocked.
Installing spyware protection
Spyware is exactly what it sounds like. These programs allow an outsider to have access to the details of your web use. This includes the history of what you are looking at as well as the content of the information you are typing into forms. The bad guys can use this information for advertising purposes. If you are looking at many software sites and you suddenly are getting lots of ads for software, you have probably been a spyware victim. Worse, if you have entered your credit card number into an unsecured site and you suddenly have a huge and unexplained credit card debt, you have probably been a spyware victim.
Fortunately it is fairly easy to install anti-spyware software. Anti-viral software packages often include anti-spyware. Looking in the computer software section of any department store, you will find many anti-spyware choices. Adware is one of the more popular options. There are also anti-spyware softwares that are downloadable for free from the Internet. Windows Defender is a free downloadable product. It also now comes free with the new Windows operating system, Vista.
Installing anti-virus software
If you are going to be on the Internet, it is important to use anti-viral software. Viruses can attack your computer through “wormholes”, attach to downloads, or attach to emails. The damage that a virus can do is much more severe than pop-ups or even spyware. A virus can destroy your computer and all of the information stored on it.
To protect against viruses you will need to purchase anti-virus software. This software will not only protect against viruses but also against spyware, adware, and other undesirable threats. This software can be purchased at any store that sells computers, and it installs in a couple of minutes. You can also purchase the software online from companies like Norton; you then download the installation right onto your computer.