How to Protect your computer.
Safe Internet Banking
Actually, what this should say is "Recommended Software and Hardware I use in Costa Rica but that I strongly endorse to be used anywhere". I use a LOT of computers in my businesses, and I spend a LOT of time learning how best to protect them
The fact is that while using a PC's in Costa Rica, you will be exposed to a far greater number viruses, Trojan horses, worms, and other nasty things than elsewhere in the world as the ISP here does not do as good a job of filtering them out before they hit your PC.
I also like to people warn about the possible use of Key logger (keylogger) programs (programs that record every one of your keystrokes and send them to a third party), especially in public Internet cafes. These could include logins and passwords to bank, credit card, web hosting or other web sites where the loss of a login and password could be disastrous.
These are the program that I use in my home and businesses that I feel these will safeguard them. As I own five companies here, all dealing heavily with the Internet, I do make every attempt to research what is best and to place those programs on my computers and networks, and thus far, I have had excellent success using those recommended below.
Here they are, with links to the web sites (click the Logo), and a short section on exactly why I use them. I would aslo urge you to reead this post on Safe Internet Banking in Costa Rica
How to protect your PC and your confidential information.
This is SERIOUS Anti Virus protection.
Unlike almost all of the better known virus programs, this one actually works AND can be set to upgrade virus definitions as often as every few minutes... which is totally unnecessary. But... maintaining current virus definitions is critical. Other virus programs say they upgrade every day, but they do not except for what THEY define as "critical" upgrades. I do not want someone else telling me what is critical on MY PC. I want the thing protected. I set my mine to upgrade every three hours. It costs no more than other virus protection programs, but it works a WHOLE lot better. I use Anti-Virus Personal Pro 6.0 which is a bit more money, but has features I need as a business person. The non-pro version costs about the same as any other anti virus but can really depend on it.
I do NOT use their firewall product or their other programs. There is no good reason I do not. They are probably just as good, but I used a different firewall (below) and I just never changed.
This is SERIOUS Anti Virus protection also
Although I do not use this one myself, they are, in my opinion, just as good. They have been on the cutting edge of anti virus technology forever. They also provide up-to-the-minute virus definitions.
Both of the above can be downloaded directly from these web sites.
All firewalls have INWARD protection meaning they impede people from coming IN to your PC. This one ALSO covers any programs ON your PC that try to SEND info... and THAT is the key!
I use this as my Firewall. The reason I do this is because it tells me whenever ANY program inside my PC is trying to access the outside world via the Internet and gives me the option to say yes or no. Today's viruses, worms, and Trojan horses work by infecting your PC, collecting information from your PC or mailing list, then sending that information to some third party. You NEVER see this happening.
This firewall is programmable so if my browser wants to use the Internet (which is normal!) I say YES and tell it that this is a permanent setting so I never get bothered in the future. BUT, if some weird program that I do not know wants to send something, or WORSE, act as if my PC was a server, I can take action to block it permanently if I KNOW there is a problem or temporarily while I research the program to make sure it should be able to access the Internet.
So, if for some reason my anti-virus software (above) does miss something (almost impossible!) and some bad program tries top access the Net from within my PC, then my firewall is there to block it before any damage is done.
Skype has nothing to do with security, but at every seminar, people always ask about using Voice Over IP (VOIP) in Costa Rica to make and receive call cheaply. Specifically, they ask what do I use. I use Skype.
I pay about 2 cents per minute to call the USA and most of Europe from Costa Rica. People there pay about the same to call me. If they already have Skype on their PC, the calls are FREE to both of us.
The one thing that people don't like is being tied to their PC for phone calls, so here is how I solved THAT problem.
By using a cool little $60.00 gadget called the Actiontec Internet Phone Wizard I can use my regular wireless telephone anywhere in the house or in my office to make and receive calls using Skype.
Finally, a word about Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS), Noise/Spike Filters, and electrical stability here in Costa Rica.
UPS's are ALWAYS a good thing to have. Just make sure when you buy one, it has adequate battery size to keep you online for at least 10-15 minutes. I use one from APC and it works fine. One nice feature is that is I am not around and the power goes out, it places my PC's in hibernation mode, saving all my data and even the pages I was on at the time of the power failure.
Noise and spike filters are very good to have and many UPS systems come with Noise and Spike Filtering BUT, Noise filters ONLY work if there is a TRUE grounded, three pin connection to a REAL earth ground. Sadly, these are almost non existent in Costa Rica, so you must add one. It is not hard, but if you aren't knowledgeable in this, have an electrician guide you. Without a ground system, you've almost no noise filtering.
In my location in Costa Rica, the power can vary from 70 something volts to 150 something volts. Computers do NOT like this. You should test you voltage with a good recording meter. If you have a problem, consider buying and auto-transformer that will maintain a steady electric supply to your computer or other electronic equipment. These are available either for an entire house or for just 1-2 electronic items.