PC Security on Windows

My sister has just bought a laptop and she wants to go on Broadband with it. She asked for a bit of advice, and I might just have gone over the top a bit on the security issue…

I’d seriously recommend using the following software – I have most of it on disk although all is ree to download. Especially vital if you have broadband.
1.Service Pack 2 – this is an update for Windows XP which tightens up an awful lot (but not all) of the security problems with XP. I have the CD – but it takes a while to install.
2. Firefox – A web browser to replace Internet Explorer. IE is evil and lets in all sorts of viruses and other nasty things. Firefox won’t, and it’s a hell of a lot easier to use, too. This is possibly the most important change to make – if you have any sense you really will use this rather than IE.
3. Firebird – An email program to replace Outlook Express, if you use it. It’s more secure and all round better. If you just use Yahoo mail on the web, then there’s no need to bother with it. If, though, you’re like me and have about 5 different personal email addys, it is vital.
4. AVG Anti-Virus – A free virus checker, which I have and is easy to use and pretty comprehensive. Scans all files coming in and out of your PC. You may already have something by Norton or McAfee pre-installed on your system. This is fine for the period you can download updates for free, but at some point they will want £30 – £40 off you. Better to remove it and add the free options you can keep up-to-date for no outlay.
5. Zonealarm – free firewall. Limits the programs that can run on your computer. Absolutely essential. I don’t actually use this myself as I get a free McAfee firewall with AOL, but this is just as good, apparently.
6. Spybot – Search and Destroy – This scans your computer for ‘spyware’: malicious little programs that get on your system despite all the above protection, then deletes them.
7. Ad-aware – another spyware programme. I have (and use) both.

I didn’t mean to scare her at all….