One of the posts I've wanted to make is a set for suggestions for safer use of Windows. Now Terry Gliedt has made what appears to be an excellent start called Coping with Windows. I haven't read the whole thing yet, but his first bit of advice is spot on:
My first advice is to not install Windows - choose something else. Buy a Mac. Install Linux.
Under the heading Virus Tools, Terry points to the free anti-virus tool I use: F-Secure Anti-Virus™ for DOS (along with other free and non-free alternatives). He also points to the two anti-spyware programs I use: Ad-Aware1 and Spybot Search & Destroy.
I want to mention a couple of other pieces of software I have found valuable. Terry's site is intentionally aimed toward the naïve:
Realize that what follows is for the very computer naive person at home. There are a million things I might tell my friends and family about this topic, but to do so means they would never do the simplest things. So I have decided to make this as simple as I can get away with and still end up with a secure home environment.
The couple of things I'm adding here are not for the naïve. But both are free. One is Privoxy, an ad-blocking proxy to reduce a significant number of annoyances one encounters while surfing the Web. It is quite useful out-of-box, without modifications, although one of its beauties is that it's customizable. The other suggestion I'll add is also for Web Surfing: MultiProxy, a privacy-protecting personal proxy that can be used to "completely hide your IP address by dynamically connecting to non-transparent anonymizing public proxy servers." This means no one will know who you are or where you are. I rarely use it, but it's indispensable at times, such as when I am denied access to content based on my physical location.
1Note that the link Terry has on his site is not to Ad-Aware, but to Ada-ware, where one can download an anti-spyware program named SpyAssassin. SpyAssassin may be a fine piece of software, but I'm all but certain Terry meant to link to the same software I link to here, Lavasoft's Ad-Aware. The screen-shot he has looks exactly like Ad-Aware.