Safe Computing: Free Antivirus Protection
Without the Software

Keeping our computers safe is not an easy task. And despite all the software available to help make things easier, the end result can be anything but. Not only do we end up spending valuable time locating and dealing with computer viruses, but there's also the cost-factor. The question is: does computer virus protection have to be expensive? The answer might surprise you.

The truth is, protecting your computer can be virtually cost-free. The only catch is, you can have to put in the effort necessary to ensure your own computer practices are safe. After all, viruses cannot damage a computer until released by a human action. The secret is learning what actions to watch out for. Confused yet? Don't be.

For free antivirus protection, follow these simple practices:

    Keep Up-to-date.
    Viruses don't exist in a vacuum. Instead, they are constantly evolving and adapting to their surrounding conditions. If you use Microsoft applications, you are particularly vulnerable, as virus creators are constantly looking for holes to infiltrate their huge programs. The good news is system operators like Microsoft are also working hard to stay on top of potential security breaches. All you have to do is keep your system updated by executing prompted online updates. The same goes for your antivirus software programs.

    Be Your Own Spam Filter.
    Many spam emails have viruses attached. Of course, spammers are smart enough to know you wouldn't open the attachment if you suspected it to be a virus, so instead they call them seemingly benign - or otherwise curiosity-inspiring - names. If you weren't expecting to receive an attachment, don't open it; even if the sender is someone you know.

    If It Sounds too Good to be True, It Probably Is.
    Are you downloading free software, music or other programs from peer-to-peer sharing sites, such as Kazaa? If so, you're putting your computer at high risk for virus infection. Although these sites provide a lot of free software, they can also put your valuable personal information at risk. To be safe, use only secure and reputable sites from which to download.

    Use Alternative Web Browsers and Email Providers.
    Because Internet Explorer and Microsoft Outlook are the most widely used web browser and email provider respectively, it makes sense that they would be the primary target for viruses. However, there are many more, and much safer, options to choose from, such as Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and The Bat, to name just a few.

In short, the real secret to safe computing is using common sense. Of course, even the most computer-savvy among us can still become the victim of virus infection, which is why it's still a good idea to have antivirus software and firewall protection installed on your computer.

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Identity theft comes in many forms.

A person\92s identity can be 'borrowed' for the purpose of creating fictional credit cards or a person\92s entire identity can be usurped to the point where they can have difficulty proving that they really are who they claim to be.

Up to 18% of identity theft victims take as long as four years to realize that their identity has been stolen.

There are many ways to protect your personal identity and many steps you can take to prevent your identity from being stolen:

*Never give out unnecessary personal information
*Never provide bank details or social security numbers over the Internet
*Always remain aware of who is standing behind you when you type in your personal credit codes at ATM machines and at supermarket checkout swipe machines.