You have a laptop computer and you know the security on it is terrible or nonexistent. You’ve got spyware and viruses and don’t know what to do.
Here are three steps you can take while watching the Super Bowl. You won’t miss any of the game.
Install Free Anti-Virus
Most users don’t need fee-based anti-virus programs like Norton or McAfee. Instead, consider using AVG anti-virus. It’s free, easy to install and use, and just as effective as the big boys.
AVG from Grisoft: free.avg.com
Then run a scan of your entire computer. Double-click the AVG anti-virus icon in the systray. Click Test Center, then click Scan Computer. This will take a while – now you can watch the game.
Do an Online Virus Scan
Not sure if your installed anti-virus program is finding all the viruses on your computer? Go to one or more of these sites to get a free online scan – like getting a second opinion on the health of your computer.
Panda: http://www.pandasoftware.com (look for the ActiveScan link on the home page)
Trend Micro: http://housecall.trendmicro.com/
Any of these will take just a few minutes to set up, and then the scan will take as long as an hour or more. Enjoy the game while the scan is running.
Install a Free Personal Firewall
A firewall can block incoming threats like worms and bots that can otherwise harm your system and steal your data. Like the other tools on this page, these two products are both free. Firewalls require a little more knowledge, so you might want to find a power-user friend to help.
Scan for Spyware
Spyware, adware, and other unwanted software lurks in spam and on websites. Anti-virus stops some, but not all.
Install one or two of these packages, then follow the instructions to scan your entire computer for spyware.
Install Software Patches
Okay, software patches should be free, and free they are. It is very important to stay up to date with Windows and Office security patches. If you run Windows, get your patches straight from Microsoft. Unless you’re an IT pro, I recommend you set up Automatic Updates so that patches are installed automatically.
Bonus tip: Get a Free Credit Check
U.S. citizens can get free credit checks once per year. You can get them from all three credit reporting bureaus all at once, or do one every four months, picking a different bureau every time. By monitoring your credit, you are more likely to discover fraudulent use of your identity.