Keeping the Internet Nasties Away! 6/2/2011

In the past, I have hinted at how being frugal and using a computer can be a tad hazardous for your computer. Today I am going to give you the ugly truth and some tricks to keep your computer as safe as possible.

First of all, I navigate the very treacherous waters of earning online as well as coupon, freebie and sample hunting. Traditionally these areas are full of Trojans, Worms, Viruses, Auto-installers, Scareware and Malicious Script.

What does all this mean? This means your computer will not work properly, if at all. So, let us talk about some basics.

Virus Protection & Firewalls
Think of this like a small army protecting your computer. Because I get Norton for free via my internet provider, I use that. But there are many good anti-virus programs out there that are free such as AVG Free and a good free firewall is ZoneAlarm Free. Never, ever have your computer connected to the internet without a 3rd party virus protection. What Operating Systems provide is a joke.

Firefox (PC/Mac) is my number one choice. It tends to be safe and has the most add-ons I can pick and choose from. On the other hand, Internet Explorer is not even an option in my mind. It is the least safe to use. There are others such as Google Chrome, Opera and Safari but...I'll stick with the proven record of Firefox.

So, once you get your browser, make sure it is your default browser. Is that done? Great, let's go shopping for browser accessories AKA add-ons.

Currently I use NoScript and AdBlock Plus as my secondary browser's line of defense. AdBlock Plus is great! It does just what it says, blocks ads. This causes loading times to decrease. Whereas NoScript does just that: Blocks scripting, namely JavaScript.

So, why would you want these? Simple. Most rubbish people try to put on your computer, intentionally or accidentally is via scripting. AdBlock Plus requires no effort on your part unless you find it is blocking images from a site you know to be safe.

NoScript does take some getting used to. Pages will load oddly. Some pages will even have a little box or URL redirect letting you know you have to have JavaScript enabled to view the site. So, right click your mouse and scroll down to NoScript and allow the base URL access if this happens. What is this? Oh my! Yes there are 30,000 other URLs feeding script into this one little website. Scary huh?

For websites I frequent and am 100% sure are safe such as,, etc., I grant permanent permission to allow scripts.

With NoScript and AdBlock Plus I can now more confidently surf the internet.

Browsing Safely
If you are ever surfing the internet and suddenly windows pop up looking like warnings from your Operating System about virus or any other alert, stay calm. Click nothing in or around the box. If my firewall/virus protection has not kicked into high gear what I do is calmly Ctrl + Alt + Delete then once my Task Manager is up, I do a hard shutdown of my browser. Once my browser is closed, I then run CCleaner, a comprehensive virus scan with my primary anti-virus program, then I run SUPERAntiSpyware. If I still have nothing I then run a registry cleaner. At this point, if nothing pops up for me, then I restore my computer to a previous date. These fake alerts can auto-install stuff on your computer. Nasty stuff. If you are using NoScript, most of these types of nasties are avoided.

No folks, it's not over. There is still more. Cleaning your browser. For myself, I clean my browser often. Perhaps once per hour of use.

To clean your browser in Firefox press your Alt key (usually by your spacebar) then use your Arrow key to go over to "Tools". Alternatively you can just use your mouse to click "Tools". You can also press Alt + T. Doesn't matter how you do it. Just get to the Tools of your browser.

Now, scroll down to "Clear recent history" or wording to that effect. Select it. A cute box pops up. I highly recommend ensuring you are cleaning your browsing history, cookies and cache. Press the button that says something to the effect of "Clear Now". Let it do it's work. Once the window disappears, you are golden. Close out your browser and precede to the secondary cleaning via CCleaner (see below).

This method will work for nearly all browsers but will be called something else other than "Clear recent history".

Other Goodies
For ages and ages I have used a free little program called CCleaner, formerly CrapCleaner. And, it does just that. Cleans rubbish off your computer. It is amazing how, even though I cleaned by browser just moments ago, there are still some icky things left. CCleaner removes all that and makes it squeaky clean.

Another piece of great free 3rd party software is SUPERAntiSpyware Free Version Home Users. With the free version you have to check for downloads yourself and run the scans yourself. But, do this once a week to really ensure all sorts of nasty things that your other programs may have missed, are taken care of.

Let me go back a moment to explain why I also use SUPERAntiSpyware when I already scrub my browser and use a comprehensive anti-virus program. Simple. Most malicious software is first of all aimed at the top 5 programs. This means my Norton may miss something. So, twice a week, late at night I run SUPERAntiSpyware. Make sense?

So, onto other goodies like HijackThis. This program is a "just in case". If for some reason your computer starts acting weird and you really can't figure out why, any forum you go to for help will ask for the HijackThis report. Some viruses will prevent you from downloading from the internet and/or installing. By already having HijackThis on your computer, you are good to go. Think medical insurance for your computer. ;-)

Did you know most computers can be scheduled to do things when we want? I have my computer scheduled to shut down each night at a certain time. This is to save on my electricity and is a step in my effort to be more green. Learn how to schedule your computer to shut down here and here.

If you feel ready, here is a great article about how to schedule other things such as CCleaner at a time good for you.

Don't download programs unless it is from a known trusted site such as The no download rule also applies to anything you get in your e-mail.

Yes, Grandma sent you a cute picture as an attachment...but could Grandma's e-mail address been cloned and a mean person just sent you a nasty? Create a free account for Grandma at a place like Photobucket so you can go and get the pictures yourself, safely.

Create a throw-away e-mail account to use when signing up for freebies, samples, etc. Then, schedule yourself to delete the e-mail account at some future date such as 6 months later. About 5 months later, create another throw-away account and start using this one so you are phasing out the first. Rinse and repeat. This will help keep your real e-mail account(s) from being bogged down and you can have a basic rule of "I never download anything from these e-mail accounts, ever." Also, if you sign up for anything that requires you to join a newsletter, always, always, always opt for the Text version so you don't risk any nasties via HTML coding in the e-mail.

Be sure you log into any site that you enter a password via secure connection. Examples of these are,,, etc. You can check if a site you log into has a secure connection by simply adding an "s" between the "p" and the ":" in the URL.

Finally, the internet is like crossing the road: Hold hands, look both ways and proceed with caution. We don't stop crossing roads because we might get hurt. We are just careful crossing.

Disclaimer: I'm not a computer tech. I am simply a gal that has been going online since the late 1980s and have experience and witnessed the evolution of nasties on the internet. I am only providing my honest opinion on being safe. I am not compensated nor even approved by the companies/software I listed. Just trying to help you all be safe!


Thank you for your thoughtful comment. Stay frugal!