Protect the Computer, Then Connect to the Internet
If a friend is getting their first computer, offer to help them set it up and protect it. If you are getting a new machine, be ready. Do not just plug it in, turn it on, and surf the web. You need to take certain steps first, to make sure your computer stays safe from spyware, adware, trojans and viruses.
Your New Computer Security Toolkit
Get your toolkit ready ahead of time — either commercial CDs or files on a CD that you burn to take to the new computer. Even if you aren’t getting a new computer, go ahead and download some of the free programs, burn them to a CDROM and be ready to help your newbie friends.
I recommend the following types of security programs be installed before you connect to the Internet the first time:
- Firewall Program. I suggest the Sunbelt Personal Firewall.
- Anti-Virus Program. The new computer may come with a trial version. Most trials now are only good for 90 days. If you do not plan to continue running that antivirus program, buy the one that you will use BEFORE you get the computer.
- Anti-Spyware Program. This program should run all the time, monitoring the computer for the changes that adware and spyware make. The anti-spyware program should also be able to do a full scan of your computer upon request. When it finds adware and spyware, it will recommend an action. Sometimes that action is “Ignore” — decide for yourself.
- Anti-Spam Program. As soon as you get an email account, you will start getting spam. No way around it. So, you need something that filters the spam so that you don’t have to read it or see the images that might be embedded in it.
- A safer web browser. Internet Explorer has become well known, not only as the most widely used web browser, but also as the target of choice for all the bad guys who want to infect you with adware, spyware, trojans and other malware. With that many people searching, serious security holes keep being found. You can yourself save a lot of grief by using one of the other free web browsers such as Opera or Firefox. I recommend Firefox!
Free Programs for your Computer Security Toolkit
If you want to use free programs for yourself or to prepare to help friends with their new computers, I recommend the following: Sunbelt Personal Firewall (two-way firewall, Sunbelt Software, reduced-function version free for personal non-business use), AVG Free Edition (anti-virus, free.grisoft.com, free for personal non-business use), and PopFile (anti-spam, http://popfile.sourceforge.net, free). And, of course, Firefox, which is free.
Recommended Programs for Your Computer Security Toolkit
For your own computer’s Anti-Spyware Program, I recommend Sunbelt Software’s
VIPRE Antivirus Premium as the anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall tool. I use VIPRE Antivirus Premium on my Windows computers.
Click here to read more about VIPRE Antivirus Premium, to download the trial version or to buy it.
I also like to include WinPatrol (free, www.winpatrol.com), which assists in controlling auto-starting programs and much more. If you purchase the $29.95 upgrade license to WinPatrol Plus, you get some added functions and access to their excellent on-line database to help identify what is running versus what should be running.
For Anti-Spam, Mailwasher Pro is a well-respected choice. Mailwasher Pro will automatically download critical information from each email (from, subject, date, the first couple lines). Then, it will screen the emails, and indicate which it thinks are spam. You can accept, add to the black list, add to your “friends list,” and delete the emails — before they ever get downloaded to your computer. You can even tell Mailwasher bounce an email as if your address was no good. Mailwasher Pro can handle multiple emails accounts, too. You can download a 30-day free trial of Mailwasher Pro — click here!
For Firewall program, I use and recommend Sunbelt Personal Firewall.
For web browsing, Firefox — my choice is still the free web browser Firefox.
You Also Need — Blank CD-Rs
Have a package of 25 or 50 blank CD-Rs and some blank DVD-R or DVD+R (two different types of DVD writeable disk — get whichever matches the DVD drive in your new computer). CD-Rs will work in CD-writers and DVD-writers, too.
If the new computer wants you to create your Recovery CDs, do that immediately, before surfing the web. The Recovery CDs may require 10 or more blanks. Recovery DVDs will probably use only one DVD.
Your First Stop on the Internet
Your first stop on the Internet needs to be Windows Updates. The easiest way to do this is click on the Start Button, hover over All Programs, and click on Windows Updates. Your computer may show the new Microsoft Update, which is an even better option for your updates. Do them now to install the patches that Microsoft has issued for known security holes in Windows.
Your Second Stop on the Internet
Your second stop is to update your anti-virus program signatures. This will cover you for the viruses and some other beasties that try to arrive via your email.
Now, On To Fun on The Internet!
With this preparation behind you, now you can now surf, send email and all the rest of the fun that comes with the Internet!
The Bottom Line
A new computer is not like a toaster, which you plug in and use.
A new computer has more in common with an automobile. You need to do the "Dealer Prep" before you ever take it for a spin on the Internet!