Chapter 3. Protecting Your Internet Privacy

In This Chapter

  • Understanding the risks of the Internet

  • Using your common sense online

  • Using the built-in Windows 7 Firewall

  • Protecting your PC from viruses

"Am I really taking any risks with my computer or my privacy when I'm online?"

That is one of the most common questions I receive from my readers. I wish that I could assure you that security accompanies the once-unimagined freedom of the Internet — but, unfortunately, the opposite is true. For once, the popular media's perception of computer crime is quite accurate: With your Internet connection comes the possibility of exposure to hackers and con artists.

But just what can happen online? How much is hype, and how much is reality? With the right precautions and a little additional hardware and software, you can be reasonably sure that you're well insulated from the bad guys on the Internet! In this chapter, I provide you with everything you need to know — the same recommendations I've made to my clients, friends, and family for more than a decade — to protect your privacy online.

What Can Really Happen?

Before I present you with the worst that the Internet can offer, please keep these two important questions in mind:

  • Are you a target? The likely answer is no — and I'm glad to say that's my answer as well. Virtually no private citizen really draws the attention of the serious hackers and other bad guys on the Internet. Hackers would rather attack someone famous, the government, or a corporation ...

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