Remember the ’70s? When “Sex was safe & skiing was dangerous?” Ok, so maybe you’re not that old. But in the 90’s, Al Gore invented the internet 😉 and the saying became “The internet was safe & skiing was still dangerous”. Well, the internet has grown into a very dangerous place for the average computer user. You’ve probably heard the terms: viruses, worms, spyware, trojans, hijacking, identity theft, botnets. The list of threats to your fun goes on and on and on.
So how does the average guy keep themselves safe? Really, there are only four basic things to do and you’ll probably be ok:
Operating system updates
It doesn’t matter what operating system you are using; Windows, Linux, Mac or something else, an operating system is like a dike. When it’s first built, it’s water-tight. As it ages, the flaws become apparent and things start to leak. As flaws are found by the hackers of the world, the operating system companies scramble to fix the problems and keep their security (and your information) tight. Other issues that surface during the life cycle of an operating system cause system crashes, data corruption and worse. These are all the problems that are resolved by doing your updates. So if you see that little box appear on your screen, don’t dismiss it! Check for your operating system updates at least weekly.
New viruses are created daily. The numbers are shocking to say the least! Make sure your anti-virus is set to update at least daily. If you have a “trial version” of a package like Norton Anti-Virus or McAfee Anti-Virus (I personally prefer ESET) that is nagging you for money, you’re living on borrowed time. Either pay them the money orrrrr…… you can install a free version of a reputable anti-virus package, such as Microsoft’s Security Essentials, or AVG, available from File Hippo at Download AVG Free Edition.
These updates should be done at least weekly. Again, there are a couple of really good free versions out there that just work! All you have to do is use them!!! You can always be sure you’re getting the genuine article when you get Spybot from the home of Spybot-S&D, Safer Networking! This application has been so successful that there are many imitators out there who peddle free “anti-spyware” programs that are really spyware in disguise! So please, ONLY download from that link above! The application update and system scan should be done at least weekly!
Don’t go to risky sites!
Don’t blindly click links on search engines! Make sure that the site you’re going to sounds like what you’re looking for. In other words, if you’re going to a credit reporting website, the name of the site should remotely resemble a credit reporting website. If the website is www.illwreckyourcomputer.com, then I would highly suggest that you don’t go there!
If you’re searching using Google, and you see a message like “This site may harm your computer”, well, that message is pretty self-explanitory! You’re probably well on your way to a website that is hosting malicious software and just waiting for you to click on it!
If a friend sends you a link and the email message just doesn’t sound right, call them! It’s possible that someone is sending out spam emails and forging their email account. It happens all the time.
Be safe, have fun and don’t trust anyone (except me). 😉