HashOut: 2007/07/02
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Is your computer data safe?

Computer data safety / security when online on the Internet. Use auto update, anti-virus, anti-spyware, firewall and secure browser like Mozilla FirefoxShielding your home computer from online threats is easier than you think. Try these simple defensive steps:

Update your OS. Whether you use the Windows or Mac operating system (OS), it must be updated regularly to shore up your computer's defenses. On a PC, go to "Windows Update" under the Start icon and click to install all security-related updates. On a Mac, go to "Software Update" in your system Preferences (OS X) or under Control Panels (OS 9). Set the feature to update automatically each week.

Install a firewall. Hackers can enter your computer if you don't have a firewall in place, such as ZoneAlarm (free), which can warn you each time your computer accesses the Web.

Install antivirus software. You need the most up-to-date anti-virus programs to ensure your hard drive and e-mail are uninfected. Two popular brands are Symentec's Norton AntiVirus and McAfee's Internet Security Suite. Run the software weekly.

Fight spyware. Spyware enters your computer when you're online, and reports your activities to companies that then try to sell you products. To remove spyware, download an anti-spyware program such as Ad-Aware (free). Run the program daily.

Change web browsers. Viruses that enter your PC via Internet Explorer can do serious damage. Consider trying a free alternative such as Mozilla Firefox.
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