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Step 1: Protect Your Computer

Installing firewall, antivirus and anti-spyware programs will help protect your computer from malicious software. Ensure security programs installed on your computer are up-to-date with the latest virus definitions and security patches. For enhanced security, you'll also need to download the latest version of your computer's operating system, as updates become available.

Verify that your operating system is up-to-date by visiting Microsoft's Windows Update Site. Mac users can check here for updates. We recommend configuring the software and your operating system to update automatically.

Configuring Your DNS Server

If you're running your own server that has a DNS resolver with an open recursive configuration, your computer may be vulnerable to malicious activity. We recommend that you secure your DNS server(s) to prevent outages and possibly improve performance.

For information on how to properly configure your DNS Resolver, visit:

If you have multiple servers, you can identify the incorrectly configured DNS servers using the open resolver tool. Once you've made the changes, the tool can also be used to verify that you've correctly configured your DNS server.

Firewalls

A firewall is a software application or hardware device used to protect a network from unauthorized access. Firewall protection is vital for Spectrum Internet subscribers because of the "always on" connection. Below are a few benefits that firewall software can provide:

  • Blocking intrusion attempts and unwanted inbound traffic
  • Managing which programs are allowed to access the internet
  • Keeping records of all inbound and outbound traffic

If you're not sure whether you have firewall software installed, check in the All Programs folder of your computer. Some common firewall brand names include Security Suite, F-Secure, McAfee, Norton Internet Security and ZoneAlarm.

The built-in firewall on Microsoft Windows 8 and 7 is turned on by default. If you have Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) or later, the built-in firewall can be enabled from the Windows Security Center.

If you have Windows XP, but don't have Service Pack 3 on your computer, you can download it by visiting Microsoft's Windows Update Site. A built-in firewall isn't available in other versions of Windows. In this case, it's recommended that you use a third-party firewall.

Many wireless access points and broadband routers for home networking have built-in hardware firewalls, which protection against intrusion attempts and unwanted inbound traffic. If a computer is infected, it may use the Internet connection in the background to send out malicious traffic or open a back door for future exploitation.

Antivirus Software

Antivirus software will attempt to identify, contain, and repair infected files on your computer. For continued protection, you'll need to update your virus definitions at least once a week or setup automatic updates. Also, perform a manual virus scan once a week or set up automatic virus scans to prevent a virus infection.

Many computers come with antivirus software installed and usually include a six- to twelve-month subscription. When it expires, you'll have to re-subscribe or purchase new antivirus software.

To manage antivirus software:

  1. Select Start, then Programs or All Programs.
  2. Locate the name of your antivirus software. Note: This can also be found in the Control Panel under the Add/Remove Programs list.
  3. Open the antivirus software to bring up its control center.
  4. Review the date of the most recent update and manage settings.

Anti-Spyware Software

Anti-Spyware software removes spyware and adware to prevent it from infecting your computer. For continued protection, scan your computer once a week and keep the antispyware software up-to-date. Most antivirus suites include antispyware. Check your antivirus suite program or contact your antivirus vendor for more information.

If you don't have anti-spyware software installed on your computer, you can download the following third-party programs:

Security Suite

Security Suite is antivirus software provided to Spectrum Internet customers, including real-time protection, automatic updates and virus removal. Learn more.

Security Suite also includes a comprehensive set of parental controls to help keep your children safe online. You can enable content filtering, block specific sites, and set usage limits. Learn more.

Step 2: Be Aware of Online Scams

Browsing the internet, opening email attachments or downloading content can pose a threat to your personal information and computer's security. An increased amount of email spam or advertising schemes is often a sign of a phishing scam. Learn more.

To ensure your personal information remains protected:

  • Don't open email messages or attachments sent from an unknown source. Forward all phishing emails to spam@uce.gov.
  • Don't call phone numbers or visit web sites listed in emails sent from an unknown source.
  • Don't reply to emails asking for personal or financial information.
  • Don't email sensitive information, such as credit card numbers, dates of birth or social security numbers.
  • If you receive a suspicious email, select Report Spam so that the message can be blocked in the future.
  • Be mindful of the amount of personal information you post online. Once you post something online, you can't take it back.
  • When making purchases or submitting sensitive information online, make sure https is included in the Web address and the on-screen padlock icon is displayed in the address bar.
  • Check your bank and credit card statements for unauthorized charges, and contact your bank or credit card companies if necessary.
  • Monitor your credit report to ensure no new accounts have been opened in your name.

Visit OnGuardOnline.gov for additional information and security tips. If you believe you've been scammed, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

Step 3: Guard Against Unauthorized Use

Once your computer has all the essential software installed and updated, guard your computer against unauthorized use by taking the following precautions:

  • Use a strong password and username for your computer and online accounts.
  • Secure your In-home wireless network, and use caution when connected to a public WiFi network. Learn more about wireless security.
  • Clear your web browser history after accessing your online accounts.
  • Avoid using Remember my password for online accounts.
  • Stay up to date on the latest security advisories.