If you spend a lot of time browsing the web or have ever gotten a virus, you may have heard someone mention the term safe browsing habits. I myself mention this term quite often to my clients, but recently I’ve come to realize that most people don’t really have an idea as to what these are. Even I get hard-pressed from time to time to actually name them off. So in this edition of “learn to use your computer moron” that is exactly what I am going to do. These tips are only a handful of things you can learn about keeping yourself safe online. Once you’ve mastered them however, you can definitely feel far safer when cruising the web.

So without further babbling from myself, here’s just a couple to get you going.

Visiting Safe Websites – This is one of the most important tools in your arsenal against viruses and attempts to steal your information. With the incredible amount of information out there on the web, it’s easy to get caught up by clicking on link after link to cruise around. This is a very dangerous practice to do, because along the way you will almost certainly click on some website that used to be one thing, but now is owned by someone less scrupulous. It’s important to try and stay to well-known sites with a good reputation. Places like Amazon.ca, Wikipedia.org, or even CBC.ca are well moderated and protected by their administrators, and can find you virtually any information you may need on a day to day basis. If what you’re looking for can’t be found in these places, try to limit the amount of independent sites you visit for your info. Do a little research into a company’s background before purchasing from them. All these extra little steps are extremely important in protecting yourself.

Never download anything that isn’t well vetted and documented – The internet is a haven for helpful, useful, and sometimes free software. There are millions of great programs and utilities out there that can make your life a lot easier. The problem is however, there are a lot of software packages out there that are more virus then helpful. If a program is offering you any kind of free content or services that most companies would make you pay for, it is more than likely a virus. The best way to be sure what your downloading is safe is to download it from a reputable site. The two best places for this is FileHippo.com & CNET.com. Both these companies are pretty good about keeping the bad stuff away, while offering the good stuff with decent download speeds. Stay away from little unknown sites, or sites that offer free programs that claim to do incredible or even illegal stuff. If a program offers you free movies or games, it’s probably a virus, or is infected with one.

Keep your computer up to date! And then keep it even MORE up to date! – One of the biggest vulnerabilities to the average user is an out of date computer. Microsoft, Apple, and even the many Linux versions available out there (Ex: Ubuntu & Fedora) often release updates to their systems to protect against flaws that viruses take advantage of. This is especially important when it comes to web browsers like Internet Explorer or Safari. Update your system each and every time an update is released.

That’s just a few little tips to get you going, there are many other things you can learn to do to keep your computer safer. Nothing is 100% foolproof, but every step helps.

That is all.