Setting Up A New
Computer The Safe Way!
Using it on the Internet without proper precaution could quickly lead to a bad
Along with all the web pages and e-mail out on the Internet are a variety of
attacks searching for any computer to victimize, and new computers are often the
most vulnerable. Before you connect it to the Internet you should make sure that
it is protected by a firewall and patched to the greatest extent possible.
The best situation is to have a network with a real firewall. This will ensure
that any devices are protected against the vast majority of attacks. If not,
you'll need to get a personal firewall for the computer. Windows XP comes with a
personal firewall; prior to Windows XP Service Pack 3 it is called the Internet
Connection Firewall (ICF) and it's not a great firewall, but it's worth having
enabled on your computer until such time as you can get a better one.
The firewall in Windows XP Service Pack 3 (called the Windows Firewall) is much
better than the first one and much less likely to interfere with applications.
If the computer does not come with SP3 pre-installed then you should install it
pronto. If you have a second, protected computer you can download a complete
(316.4 MB) copy of SP3 from this page on Microsoft's web site,
Click Here for the download.
burn it to a CD, and have to ready to install on your new computer without
having to put that one online. If you have enabled the ICF, you can feel safe
enough to go to the Windows Update site and install SP3 on the new computer that
way, but it will take a long time.
If you are using a version of Windows prior to Windows XP and you don't have a
network-based firewall, it is essential that you find some software firewall,
such as the Norton Personal Firewall 2005, to install on the computer before you
connect it to the Internet. Even if the first thing you do when you go online is
to download and install a firewall, it's probably too late. With Windows XP,
after you have installed SP3 is a good time to install a 3rd party firewall,
Still, the important point is not to expose the computer to the Internet without
having an effective firewall running.
Once you have a firewall running and you are all patched up from Windows Update,
you may still be vulnerable to many attacks, such as those you get from infected
e-mails with the latest viruses or by visiting web pages that exploit
browser-based vulnerabilities, or even adware you could install unwittingly off
the web. This is why you need to complete the security configuration before
using the computer for pedestrian purposes.
Install an antivirus program and update it before surfing the web casually or
setting up e-mail. Set up the antivirus program and Windows to automatically
retrieve security updates and to install them.
Finally, it's possible, especially with lesser-known system vendors, that a new
computer comes with adware on it, so you may even want to install a good anti-spyware
product such as Webroot Spy Sweeper and scan the system.
More users than you might think start out on the wrong foot with their new
computers, stepping right into the world of malware unknowingly when they
connect to the Internet. By getting your defenses ready in advance, you can keep
your new computer running smoothly from the start.
Let me know if you need anything else.
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