Top 5 Tips to Avoid Viruses and Spyware

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Eric sent in his top five list of tips for downloading things safely from the Internet. My best advice is to remember that software such as anti-virus programs are your *second* layer of defense against malware. The #1 layer is YOU and your common sense. Here are Eric’s top 5 tips for safe Internet downloading:

Close all other applications while running a setup wizard If you have other applications running, it can cause the install to fail, or critical files to be corrupted… even making uninstallation impossible by normal means. Chris adds: This isn’t completely correct, however it is a good idea to quit other applications. Also, never run more than ONE installer at the same time.

Only download from trusted sites Don’t trust a bunch of random people on YouTube, for instance. If something screams out “free!”, it is likely a scam. Do some research, know what you’re downloading and the site you’re getting it from. Get recommendations from trusted family and friends, and even via some of the excellent computer forums online.

Don’t download anything from “dirty” sites You may be sitting there giggling by now, but adult sites are about 90% of the way computers get infected. Most every one of those sites has malware embedded in them, and even more when you download something from them.

Be careful using P2P programs Ahh, here is the other 10% of the malware. Peer to Peer file sharing. Be smart when downloading anything this way. Check the file sizes, and the titles. Seriously guys. If a file on a Torrent site (for instance) claims to give you Vista for free or turn your PC into a “psp” machine to allow you to game… do you REALLY think it’s true?

Make sure the company you’re downloading from is really legit There are many sites and companies out there who pretend to be Apple, or Microsoft, or any other number of reputable companies. Never download something that claims to be from them from somewhere other than their site, without making sure you know it really did come from them. Also, make sure the site you are going to download from has permission from the content owner to host the file for download.

Use common sense, do your research, and protect yourself. Happy safe computing!

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