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Software Firewall

There are hardware firewalls that protect your network from certain kinds of attacks, but the one that does the most for you is a software firewall that runs on your computer. The two main jobs of your firewall is to block any type of incoming attack by hackers or hacking scripts, but the second and more visible function is to bring up alerts whenever a program on your computer tries to get to the Internet.

A sample firewall security warning
A sample firewall security warning

All it's telling you is that one of your programs is trying to get to the Internet and it wants you to tell it what to do. To decide, ask the following questions:

After this, you have several scenarios:

For an easy-to-use flowchart that will help you walk through the steps of handling a firewall alert, click here

Currently, we recommend Zonealarm free firewall for home use:

As free firewalls go, Zonealarm works well. Go to their website and look for the nearly hidden link titled 'I only want basic Zonealarm protection' (avoid anything that says "Trial"). Run the installation and follow the directions making sure to uncheck any boxes for optional software like the Yahoo! toolbar or such.

Once installed, it will run a minimal setup procedure. Take the default settings, but one tip is to not let it set up your programs for you. What this means is that for a little while, you'll be constantly harassed by programs asking for permission to access the Internet, but that's what you want.

Look at each program that's trying to get online and decide if it should. Even otherwise legitimate software like Windows Media Player will try to connect to the Internet for part of it's functionality that no one I know uses or wants. Use your new firewall to be able to use software while also preventing it from getting online when it shouldn't.

Guide Navigation
prev: Spyware Scanners|INDEX|next: Operating System Updates

Security Software

Make sure you have a up-to-date Anti-Virus Program to protect you against bad websites or files.
Sometimes spyware gets in your computer and the anti-virus won't stop it. Use a spyware scanner to find and remove spyware and adware.
Use a software firewall to detect bad code on your computer when it tries to connect to the Internet.
Always keep your system up to date with security patches or none of the rest of your security software will matter.
Use an encryption tool to protect your important data when storing or transmitting it.
Switch to Firefox for your web browsing and you'll be better protected from Internet threats.

Safe Computing Practices

Don't get tricked by fake alerts or clever webpages into downloading viruses or spyware!
How to Steal Identities - Why It's So Easy
Credit Freeze
Data Defense
Credit Monitoring
Id Theft Insurance
The Identity Theft Victim's Mini-Guide to Recovery
The Geek Privacy Principle
Nothing to Hide
Data Abuse
RFID - Radio Frequency IDentification
Privacy Alias/Persona
Data Defense
Online Addiction
The Consequences of Posting Online
Photo Safety
Tricks and Scams
Account Hijacking
Trusting Companies
Bad Passwords
Password Tips and Tricks
Password Protection
Password Mugging
Computer Security
E-mail Safety
Kids and Computers
Shopping Online
All About Warranties


A virus can come from files, e-mails, web pages, or even devices you plug in (like thumbdrives or printers) and destroy your files or your computer once they get in. An anti-virus is software designed to detect and prevent that from happening.

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Spyware Scanners

Learn how to detect and remove spyware and adware using a free scanning tool.

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Software Firewall

Learn what a firewall is and why you want one on your computer.

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Operating System Updates

Make sure to keep your operating system up-to-date with security patches or else none of the rest of your security software will be able to protect you.

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File Encryption

Learn how to protect your important files on your computer or when transmitting them with free tools for file encryption.

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Mozilla Firefox - Internet Browser

There are many browser choices out there. Read why I think Firefox is one of the best.

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Fake Alerts

Maybe you've done everything right and you're computer is sufficiently fortress-like, but then you or someone in your family falls for a simple scam that tricks them into directly installing the bad guy's virus! Learn how to spot and ignore fakes!

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