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Internet security
The Internet or the whole computer world isn't like it used to be. The step to start using computers is too high, a beginner may get the computer immediately crashing and sending masses of ad emails (called SPAM) without even knowing this. 2 seconds of unprotected Internet connection is enough to get a modern virus, and that time isn't enough to turn on protection. Before plugging a computer to the Internet, everything must be set ready. Even if don't want to protect yourself, consider it for the others. Every computer taken off from the zombie-computer chain used to bomb us with SPAM and such, decreases the unwanted traffic on the Internet. Here I've listed 3 types of software you should have, or at least consider owning. The lists of software I have are based on my experience and are far from a complete list!

Personally I ask why? Why do some people do things like viruses or hacking in to someone else's property? These people are obviously skilled in the art of computers, why don't they use their gifts by doing something that benefits the mankind? It's nice that the computers do develop towards becoming faster than ever, because we need the increased power to keep the shielding up. Hell, I bet with the processor time all computers took to protect themselves (and you), we could have made calculations that would have made cancer look like a autumn cold and run simulations how to turn deserts into a thriving farm lands... I just don't get it.

Remember to keep your protective software up-to-date, including your operating system (Windows Update, for Windows)! And to find the software listed try Google, the links may get old.

Firewall
This software protects your computer from outside traffic, such as viruses and maybe a hacker wanting your personal information and the control of your computer. Even with a dial-up connection it's recommended to use a firewall software, with solid connections to the Internet (xDSL, Cable, LAN etc.) it's a must. Windows XP comes with it's own firewall and Service Pack 2 update strengthens it. This built-in firewall is far better than nothing, and more than suitable to a dial-up connection, but I prefer to use something with more punch in it. There are also free firewalls available, due to the fact that everybody should have one (everybody benefits from it) most software companies offer a free lighter version of their firewall solution. A good firewall solution is definitely worth the (usually) low cost, and nowadays there are solutions with firewall and anti-virus put together, which saves the processor power compared to having both as a separate solutions. Having all eggs in the same basket? Doesn't scare me...

Software:

ZoneAlarm, Zone Labs, free basic version
I've used for a long time and I liked it. They have this new version with anti-virus software built-in, sounds good. Personally I recommend this one, good layout and easy to use for a total beginner. Seems very effective!

Kerio, Kerio Technologies Inc
No personal usage experience but said to be easy to use. Seems much like ZoneAlarm.

Sygate, Sygate
I use this nowadays. I don't recommend it much. I find it a little too complicated and not too user friendly. I found the newest ZoneAlarm too complicated to configure properly and it doesn't work together with my trusted anti-virus software so I was forced to change to Sygate...

Anti-virus
This software protects you against the modern plague, viruses, trojans or worms whatever they're referred as. I think most of the infections are from email attachments. Although I'm not going to preach about that here, but I'll just say don't open everything, that 5 meters long gorgeous penis or a eternal happy life is just not possible (for everybody =)). Think before you act! Use a email reader that has a SPAM filter, personally I use Qualcomm's Eudora but there is also free choices available such as Mozilla's Thunderbird. A good anti-virus software guards you by monitoring what files you're trying to execute by quickly scanning them before you start them. And updates itself daily with an up-to-date virus database to catch the newest threats.

Software:

F-Secure Anti-Virus, F-Secure
Absolutely the best! I've always used this one. Although not free, but definitely worth the money. They have this new Internet Security 2005 with firewall and the anti-virus in a low cost package. I've considered starting to use the package.

AntiVir, H+BEDV Datentechnik GmbH, free!
Not as easy to use. Updating needs little personal attention, but instructed and notified when needed. Little complicated at first but delivers what it promises!

Spyware
Spyware is what you can get by surfing the Internet even if you had the software above. Ever wondered why the starting page of your browser is "http://www.adcentergaypornhappierlifesearchengine.com" and even if you change it, it comes right back? Or suddenly out of nowhere opens up an browser window telling you've won a national lottery? You just can't think how happy you are, I mean, what are the changes to win in a lottery! Yeah right, but if you're annoyed by all this try these tips and tricks.

Software:

Ad-Aware, Lavasoft, free for non-commercial use
No usage experience, but the name popped right on my mind.

Spybot - Search & Destroy, http://beam.to/spybotsd, donationware
No usage experience, but the software seems good. Free and available in most languages. Great work boys!

Internet browser
You can make a difference on your personal security by using the right browser. There has been a lot of debate which one to use since Microsoft's Internet Explorer seems to let everybody use your computer by exploiting the security holes. Experts seem to recommend Mozilla's software. Personally I think this is a matter of personal preference and some are just happy because the word "Microsoft" is missing from the browser they're using. The fact is that the same holes are found from almost each browser, it's just that the Internet Explorer doesn't get updated as often as it should to fix those. A good browser has an pop-up blocker, increases your security and makes the Internet a much pleasant place to be by blocking the annoying ads. Always keep such software up-to-date!

Software:

Internet Explorer, Microsoft, free (bundled with Windows operating system)
Personally I use this one. With Service Pack 2 update it contains the pop-up blocker. Good all-rounder I think, most of the pages in the Internet are designed to this browser. Ensures good compatibility with pages.

Firefox/Mozilla, Mozilla, free!
Firefox is little lighter than the Internet Explorer, offers all the same features. Mozilla comes with capabilities to read email, news, IRC etc. Updated frequently. Excellent choise if you don't want to use the Internet Explorer.