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Part 1 of 4: Browsing Safely

1.    Avoid clicking on everything. There are thousands of banner ads and popups on the internet that are designed to get your attention and make you click. Due to the way most modern browsers work, there are very few ways for you to get infected with something online UNLESS you click on it yourself. This means you should avoid clicking on banners for offers that are too good to be true.  Make sure your browser is configured to always ask before running files and downloading automatically. If you have to confirm everything, you are much less likely to get infected.

2.    Beware of misleading popups. Some of the most nefarious popups on the internet are designed to mimic the look of legitimate anti-virus software. These popups attempt to trick the user into thinking their antivirus software has found an infection. When you click the popup, however, the adware is actually installed.  Instead of clicking the warning, close the popup window and open the antivirus program on your computer. You most likely will not see any warnings. If you are still worried, run a scan using your installed software. Don't try clicking the "X" to close the popup window, as this will usually lead to more popups. Instead, use the Task Manager to get rid of it.  Check to ensure that your browser is configured to block popups.

3.    Clear your browser cache. Popups can store information in your browser's cache, leading to them reappearing constantly. To help prevent this, clear your browser’s cache regularly.

4.    Consider a different browser. If you are using an older browser such as Netscape or Safari for Windows, you may be leaving yourself exposed to security risks. Browsers such as Firefox, Chrome, and Opera are much more secure than older browsers, and more customizable.  If you don't want to switch browsers, make sure that the one you are using is always up to date to help prevent unauthorized attacks.

5.    Don't go where you're not supposed to. As viruses are illegal, they thrive on other illegal sites. Avoid sites that let you download copyrighted content or other illegal communities. File sharing is a quick way to get infected files. You will find that your computer is much less prone to infection if you avoid things you shouldn't be doing. Besides viruses from files you download, many of these sites will have a litany of annoying popups and misleading advertisements. All of these could lead to virus and spyware infection.

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