IT'S ALL FREE! Electronic Handwashing

As a nurse, you wouldn't think of providing care to patients without washing your hands between each one. That's because you know the value of washing your hands to prevent the spread of infection. As a new legal nurse consultant, you can practice the electronic equivalent of handwashing to prevent the spread of computer viruses, trojans, and worms when you surf the internet.

It's important that you practice "electronic handwashing", not only for your sake, but for the sake of your family, friends, colleagues, and especially clients. There is nothing more embarrassing than having to notify a client that your email address has been hijacked and that a spammer is using your name to sell products of dubious repute.

One of the most common ways that LNCs spread electronic infections is by surfing the internet without proper protection. And one of the best forms of electronic handwashing is using anti-virus software and keeping it up-to-date. Most high-speed internet service providers (ISPs), such as AT&T, Comcast, and RoadRunner, offer free anti-virus software. Your ISP's anti-virus protection may not be automatic; you may need to log into your account and download the software to your computer. And if your internet service provider doesn't provide an anti-virus program, the internet offers lots of  these programs, many of which can be downloaded for free.

You can get other types of software free by downloading them as well. Unfortunately, some software has malware (short for malicious software) hitching along for the ride. Malware can contain parasites such as viruses, trojans, or worms that can sometimes trick even the best anti-virus protection. To prevent unintentionally downloading malware, always download from a site such as CNET.

You can also unintentionally download malware by visiting a web site with a poor reputation. Web of Trust is a free program that's set up like a traffic light. If you visit a web site that's potentially unsafe, a red light warns you that the site has a poor reputation. You can then choose to visit the site or avoid it.

To further prevent malicious downloads, you can also install a new hosts file to your computer. The hosts file can eliminate designated web sites from downloading parasites to your computer. It has the added benefit of preventing spyware and pop-up ads, but it's a little tricky to install.

But let's say that despite all your electronic handwashing, you still get a nasty parasite that your anti-virus program can't get rid of. You can spend $50-$100 for a computer nerd to remove the infection. Or you can grab a USB drive, go to a different computer, and download Malware Bytes. Better yet, download it onto a USB drive now, before you need it. This free program is a powerhouse against malware.

Now you know ways to practice electronic handwashing. And you can keep yourself and your clients free of computer viruses, trojans, and worms.

...Katy Jones