Notebook computers provide a great convenience for personal computing. Just sit within range of a wireless hotspot and you can connect to your office or home network, access your email, and complete important projects for work. However, roaming from one insecure wireless network to another can leave your computer vulnerable to malicious software attacks.
Protects Your Notebook from Spyware and Viruses
If you're connected to a wireless network without its own firewall, hackers can easily intercept the signals you send and receive over the airwaves. Bad people can also install spyware and viruses on your computer.
Spyware refers to applications designed to track the internet activity of computer users, log sites visited, and gather other information. The term "spyware," can also refer to non-virus malicious software, including software that takes over your internet connection, generates unwanted advertisements, or even blocks your internet connection. Tracking programs are technically labeled as spyware only if the computer user does not agree to the download or installation.
Spyware collects information and sends it back to the spyware controller. Spyware program owners usually sell the collected information to marketers. For example, spyware can obtain computer user email information, using that information to bombard users with advertisements and spam. Spyware is also known as "malware" (Malicious Software) because it can be used to aid in identity theft and fraudulent activity (some spyware programs mine credit card information and other sensitive financial information). Keylogging programs used to steal credit card information and passwords by monitoring everything users type, come under the spyware/malware umbrella.
Viruses are another type of malicious software. Viruses are pieces of code that attach to your programs, files, or boot sector. These malicious programs are called viruses because they work like a virus infection - they spread to other files, programs, and even computers, and they are explicitly designed to corrupt your files and destroy your applications.
Protecting your notebook computer from spyware and viruses protects you from fraud and also protects your privacy.
The first thing you need to do is install a secure web browser. Internet Explorer is very vulnerable to unauthorized scripts that can be run and installed on your computer without your knowledge. Instead of using Internet Explorer, you can try using Mozilla Firefox, one of the safest web browsers. Firefox will always notify you of any downloads or installations, notify you of suspected sites, and update your browser automatically to continue improving security.
Apart from using Firefox, it is important that every computer user installs a personal firewall to block unauthorized access attempts. For Windows XP users, Comodo Personal Firewall is a free option (there is an Alpha version of Comodo Personal Firewall Version 3, which adds Vista support, but it won't be a stable choice until they reach the final release). Even the best firewalls can sometimes allow spyware in, so scan your computer with a free program like Spybot: Search & Destroy or Ad-Aware SE, two of the best anti-spyware programs available. You shouldn't neglect to install anti-virus software either. If you have an anti-virus program that you already use, stick with it, but the free home edition of Avast and the open-source (free) anti-virus product ClamWin are two excellent options. Keep your security software up to date (most programs update themselves automatically, but sometimes programs ask for your permission) to provide the best protection against malicious software.