Protecting your computer before gambling online

Before you download any software from the internet, and certainly before you install anything, make you have antivirus software installed, and updated on your computer. While software developers have become more adept at protecting their software from malicious code, many viruses still exist, and the internet is an easy way for them to replicate and spread. More than 5 new viruses appear on the internet every day, and while some are rather benign, many are malicious and can trash your computer system, or worse.

Viruses are not the only problems you might encounter on the net though. Computer worms for example, will use security holes in your existing computer and networks to infect your computer. By constantly trolling through as many computers connected to the internet as it can find, a worm then copies itself through such holes, and then uses your computer as a base from which to attack other computers. One way to minimize the risk of this ever happening to you, is to turn on Windows Updates on your computer. Microsoft regularly releases patches of its Windows software whenever such potential exploits are found. The more up-to-date your Windows software is, the lower your risk of being attacked by a worm.

Finally, you will always be exposed to Trojan Horses as long as you are on the internet. Like the original in ancient Greece, a Trojan horse is a piece of software that pretends to be harmless, all the while concealing something dangerous inside. Trojan horses can (and do) take so many different forms that they cannot all be covered in this article. It might for example, claim to be a video, a photograph, a harmless game, an audio clip, and unfortunately, even an online card game. Some are so bad they will erase your entire hard drive the minute you 'install' them.

Adware is increasingly becoming a problem on the internet. This is software that causes adverts to pop up and display on your screen. The worst variants of these will open up new windows with adverts a lot faster than you can close them, forcing you to restart your computer. Sometimes too, adware will install spyware software on your machine. This software will monitor the way you use your computer, the sites you might be visiting, in order to display 'relevant' adverts.

Finally, you need to be wary of key loggers. These are more malicious variants of spyware, in that the record your keystrokes, before sending them to (typically) online fraudsters. Keystrokes that might be captured can include your login names and passwords for your various online accounts, including those attached to your finances.

Clearly, with all the risks you could be exposed to, it is better to err on the side of caution. If you are not sure about a piece of software, do not download it. And make sure you have virus protection software installed. Just as important too, update this software as often as you are online. If you are not sure whether your computer is protected, speak to a technician before you download and install anything.

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