A Beginner’s Guide To Internet Security

If you are new to the internet, or have never considered internet security before, then the available options may seem quite daunting. I remember many years ago when I first connected to the net that the available security information was always rather technical and, quite frankly, difficult to comprehend. Hopefully, the following article will outline what you can do to maintain your security and privacy online in a way that is easy to understand and implement.

If you are not a total newcomer to the internet then you may have already heard of some of the following tips. Even so, it may be worth reading on to ensure that you have done all that you can to secure your system.

A Beginner's Guide To Internet Security

GETTING STARTED WITH INTERNET SECURITY

If you have just purchased a brand new computer, or had one built for you, then it is unlikely to have the latest operating system updates installed. This is especially true for Microsoft-based systems where critical updates appear to be a very frequent requirement. Before you first connect a Windows based machine to the internet it would be advisable to make sure that you have a firewall protecting your system. Newer versions of Windows have a firewall built in, or you can use your own third party one if you prefer.

The very next thing that I would recommend is visiting the official Microsoft updates site where you should at least download and install any ‘critical updates’. The next step should be to install any antivirus protection that you may have. It is advisable to do this before you set up your email accounts in order to have maximum protection from the outset.

WINDOWS UPDATES

Windows updates are designed to fix problems with Microsoft’s software. Sometimes their operating systems are shipped in a slightly buggy stats but more often, these updates are to close security holes discovered by hackers.

To utilise Windows Update you will need to…

Click Start > Control Panel > Windows Update > allow download of system checker > scan for updates > download and install any Critical Updates or Service Packs that are listed.

PERSONAL FIREWALLS

In basic terms, a Firewall will monitor traffic coming into your system from the internet and any data that is travelling back the other way. By monitoring traffic coming from the internet the firewall could detect a Trojan horse on you system. Likewise, by examining outbound traffic, the firewall could detect a Trojan horse or spyware that is trying to send data from your system to another machine.

If you are using a newer version of Windows then there is a firewall built in. If you elect to use an alternative instead then ensure that the default firewall is disabled as running more than one firewall at a time can create conflicts that will lessen your level of protection.

ANTIVIRUS

A good piece of anti-virus software will scan your system, including memory, hard drive and email, in order to detect and remove viruses. Many anti-virus programs will also afford some protection against worms and Trojan horses. When you have installed your virus scanner make sure you download the latest virus definitions or else you will be leaving yourself totally vulnerable. You should also make sure that you configure your anti-virus program such that it updates the virus definitions automatically in the future.

Here are some anti-virus products you may wish to consider –

INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS (ISPs)

If you are fortunate enough to have some choice over which ISP (Internet Service Provider) to use then you may be fortunate enough to find one that offers a good range of services that aid internet security. Some, but not all, ISPs offer their own virus-checkers and spam filters which should help cut down on the amount of potential problems that your own system has to deal with. A good ISP should be able to significantly reduce the level of spam that you receive in your inbox and also the number of virus-infected files that your anti-virus product will have to deal with. If you do not have a choice or want to keep your current ISP, consider using an online email service that offers virus and spam filters.

NETWORK SECURITY

If you need to access the world wide web with more than one computer but only have one internet connection then you will need to add a router to your setup. Not only will a router allow you to share an internet connection but it will also more than likely come equipped with it’s own firewall. Configuring the router correctly is essential if you wish to maintain the security of your network, especially if it utilises wireless technology. A post I wrote a few days ago goes into detail on how to configure a  wireless router.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.

Comments

  1. Oh you got the boring default avatar. Cant we have the bugs instead? :)

  2. Not like me to say something sensible but this was a good guide. Thanks.

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