How to be Safe and Secure on
the Internet Almost
updated: September 3, 2006
by John Krill
note: This helpful article
assumes you are using Microsoft Windows XP: Home or Professional
No one can be completly safe no
matter where or what they're doing. Getting on the Internet and
browsing the Web using Internet Explorer or getting e-mail using
Microsoft Outlook Express can be unsafe and insecure. But there
are procedures you can follow that will make you much more safe
and secure while you are on the Internet.
First: We are not going into detail
on how you do some of the procedures we will recommend. For instance
if we suggest you install a program we will not discuss how to
get, install, or use that program. We only tell you were to find
the product. The rest is up to you.
Second: Get a good book on Windows
XP. Ask your friends what they bought or better yet steal theirs.
Here's what we recommend: Get ZoneAlarm
and Ad-Aware installed on your computer. Create a user account
with limited access. Setup Outlook
Express to make is safer. Turn off Messenger
if it isn't already disabled.
Zone Alarm is a firewall that can restrict
data from entering and leaving your computer via the Internet.
ZoneLabs has a freely downloadable
version of ZoneAlarm. Get it, install it, and use it!
You may need to turn off Microsoft Windows
XP's version of a firewall. It only restricts data from entering
your computer but not leaving it. If it is on then turn it off
before you install ZoneAlarm.
Quickly download the program and then install
it offline. Once you have installed ZoneAlarm and you're using
an account with limited access then you can go back on the Internet.
I recommend you get someone to help you
with the initial running of ZoneAlarm. ZoneAlarm needs to know
what programs can have access to the Internet. It can be confusing
but you must get through it. You will be much safer once you do.
Ad-Aware [added to article 9/3/06]
This product will protect your computer
from all forms of spyware. Spyware is usually done using your
web browser and cookies to track you Web usage. The first time
I ran Ad-Aware it found over 1200 useless cookies - many of them
trackers. Now every time I get on the Internet I run Ad-Aware
SE after signing off. (We still use dial-up service. We're to
cheap to go to high-speed.) You could also run Ad-Aware manually
while still online.
The free version of Ad-Aware cannot be
used as a real-time tool. So in order to catch spyware on the
fly you need to invest in the full version. We at Photoessayist
would be using the full version now except for the pricing policy
at Lavasoft. First they
sell you a product at such and such a price and then you have
to pay an additional fee to download the product. We can understand
maybe a fee to get the CD, which they do have, but to download?
No way. In short I found the pricing to be deceptive.
Ad-Aware is a product of Lavasoft.
Some background information: When Windows
XP is first installed there is only one account called Administrator.
If you go to the Start button and the menu has the name Administrator
at the top then you have never created other user accounts.
Now the wierd stuff about accounts. When
you create your first account - other than Administrator
- it will also have full access to your computer and the next
time you log-on to your computer this new account you just created
will be the only account listed. Lets say we call this
account BOSS. This account will now be the administrator account.
If you haven't created this first account
- then do it. And give it a password! Give all your accounts a
password. If you are now saying to yourself, "I don't want
to use passwords," Then stop now and forget about security.
Go away and never bother me again. In fact you are probably a
plague and dangerous just to be around. Don't ever e-mail me.
Ever! You're walking death. Ugg!
Note: If you set Password age
to zero you never have to change it. O.K. I'll explain how to
do this. It's down at the bottom of this page.
You don't know how to create an account?
Get a good Windows XP book. Didn't I already say that? Yea, I
So now you are logged on to the new administrator
account. And it has a password? Good.
Now create another account and give it
limited access. A good Windows XP book will show you how to create
accounts and add passwords and give them limited access. Now log-off
your new administrator account and log-on to your new limited
When to use your limited access account?
All the time. In general whenever you are
on the Internet you should be using only user accounts with limited
Because while using a user account with
limited access to the OS. No one, including you, can change anything
involving the OS. That includes putting a virus on your computer.
Now you get it? I hope so. This writer has never had a virus since
he started using Windows XP. Never. Not once. That's zero viruses.
What are the restrictions to a limited
You can't add or delete programs and hardware
or change the OS while logged on to a limited user account. When
was the last time you changed the OS? Right - you don't even know
what I'm talking about. But this restriction is also why you should
be using an account with limited access to the OS. And when you
need to install a new program then disable Internet access while
you're doing the install. If you have to be online during the
install then do it quickly and then log-off and go back to your
limited access account.
Using ZoneAlarm, Ad-Aware, and a limited
access account is really all there is to it. Virus checkers -
what about viruses? Virus checkers can only spot known problems.
Usually the virus is installed before you can get updates. You
will not need them if you have done what I have asked you to do
plus two items involving Outlook Express. Spyware that use the
browser will load their trackers to the local account so getting
updates is important.
Fixing Outlook Express
One: Turn off the preview pane for e-mails.
From the Outlook Express Menu Bar go to View
-> Layout .... and make sure Show Preview Pane is
Two: Never open e-mails with attachments.
In case you didn't hear me: Never open e-mails with attachments.
Got it? Ok. Now what did I say? Yea, I know, you know the person
sending the e-mail. But are you absolutly positive that your friend's
computer insn't infected? So don't do it. It isn't worth it. Never.
Where do viruses come from? They come as
attachments to e-mail. That's why you never open e-mail with file
attachments. And if you have the preview pane enabled then as
soon as you highlight an e-mail from the list of e-mails it will
open that e-mail in the preview pane along with attachments. So
never, I repeat, never use the preview pane.
Yes, Microsoft has claimed to have fixed
problems with Outlook Express and added features for checking
attachments. Forget them. Remember you are the last bastion of
your computer. Depending on others to check for viruses
will only end in disaster.
If you are getting little window popups
while on the Internet you need to disable Messenger. note:
This is not the Instant Messenging program.
1. You need to be logged onto your administrator
2. From the Start button go to Programs >> System
tools >> Administrative tools >> Conponent
Services. (figure 1)
3. From the list on the left select Servies (Local)
3. From the list on the right select Messenger and
4. From the drop-down list for Start-up type:
select Disable. (figure 2)
5. I also disabled Routing and Remote Access.
6. Close out everything and restart your computer.
Set Password to Last
When you install Windows XP the default
length of time a password last before it has to be changed is
42 days. You can change this to never (0 days) or to whatever
From the Start button select: All Programs
>> Accessories >> Administrative Tools
Security Policy.(figure 3) Under Account Policy
select Password Policy. In the right-panel select the item
you want to change, such as password
age, (figure 4) and press Enter button.
That's All Folks!