Top 10 tips to keep that new computer spyware-free

Got a new computer for Christmas? Are you worried about all the spyware horror stories you've read?

Got a new computer for Christmas? Are you worried about all the spyware horror stories you've read? You should be. I've heard varying numbers, but it's said that putting an unprotected computer on a high-speed connection results in getting infected within a few minutes. I just read that the time is getting longer, but that's not much comfort. By all means you should have a router if you're on a high speed connection. A router provides some protection, but is only the beginning. Ok, now the new machine is booted up the first time and ready to go. It's on the net. In this order, here's what to do.

1.  Update Windows immediately. In the Windows Security Center in the Control Panel turn on automatic download and installation for updates. Unless the computer came with a third party security suite or firewall, turn on the Windows XP firewall.

2.  Update the pre-installed antivirus definitions and other security apps. Set them to auto update.

3.  Download and install an alternative browser like Firefox or Opera.

4.  Lockdown Internet Explorer. Yes, do it even if you use a different browser.

5.  Install at least two anti-spyware apps. My top two recommended free apps are Ad-Aware and Microsoft AntiSpyware. Update definitions for both and turn on active protection in Microsoft AntiSpyware.

6.  Install some free protective programs like SpywareBlaster and SpywareGuard from Javacool Software.

7.  Install IE-SPYAD, which puts nearly 20,000 known dangerous domains in IE's restricted site zone.

8.  Install a HOSTS file from here or here.

9.  Educate yourself on how to not become infected in the first place.

10. Surf safe and practice safe hex.

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