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Fending off the Internet Scourge

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Category: 2011 Published on Friday, 21 October 2011
Mike Berman
Dave Berman

Again, my frizzy-haired offspring is going to make me look like a genius!

Although his attempts at securing his PC work well, they require you to be diligent --- and, let's face it, very few of us are! Instead, we need something to do an adequate job of protecting our PCs for us without too much input from us.

Installing a good Internet security program -- or even installing the security software that came with your operating system -- is a good way to start.

Although none of these programs can catch everything, there are a ton of them that can shield your PC from more than 95 percent of the threats that are cruising through cyberspace. And none of them will protect you if you open a virus-laden email or link in Twitter or Facebook.

For the email threats, you need make sure virus and SPAM protection is activated on your email server. Most email services offer this protection for a couple of bucks per month or even free. If yours doesn't, dump them and get someone else!

Unfortunately nothing, except refraining from clicking on erroneous links, can protect your PC from so-called social network attacks.

I agree that you'll probably encounter a virus or two even if you use the best protection, but why leave your PC open to attack?

If you're a Windows user, you can install Windows Defender, which is a free Internet security program that comes with Windows 7 and Vista. I've run it on a couple of PCs and it works well. BUT, the protection is pretty basic, shielding users from the more common viral scourges.

To fend off more sophisticated attacks you really need to install a third-party Internet Security program from publishers like Symantec, McAfee or Kaspersky. There's also a free program from AVG that can be upgraded to offer additional protection.

It really doesn't matter which of these programs you use. The point here is realizing that an unprotected PC is a vulnerable PC!

Of course you can always resort to the steps outlined below by old-sage Dave, but most of them are designed to detect an attack AFTER you've become a target. The others, truthfully, are the result of the paranoia that accompanies the fear that your PC is vulnerable.

Feel safe. Feel secure. Protect your PC!

The only way you're susceptible to computer attacks is if you're being dumb. Really really dumb. For real.*

I don't think Windows 7 or any other new OS is more secure. They might have these cutesy tools like Windows Defender or built-in firewalls but it doesn't catch everything.

Browser popup blockers which have been around for a long time isn't really protection, it just hides the problem. And if you install Google or Yahoo! toolbars either, directly or through another program, you're opening the door to trojan type programs. If you learn one thing today, never ever EVER install toolbars. Read on, I'll teach you more. I run Windows 7 and I've had my fair share of computer attacks and they still happen.

Often times you won't know unless:

  • You see Twitter posts by you that you didn't post
  • You sent an email to half of your Facebook friends about starring in a "new movie"
  • You get redirected to unwanted sites
  • You get a penis enlargement email you weren't expecting
  • ... so on and so forth  

I don't have any virus protection installed however I do run Spybot Search and Destroy and MalwareBytes when I believe there's a problem. I more or less take the same stance on protection as I did back when we wrote about a similar topic in 2002, What's your Viral IQ?

Use protection if it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, however if you're knowledgeable around a computer system then you don't really need any. Just be smart. If you think there's a problem (regardless of what OS you're using), then you can and should take the following steps:

  • Shutdown your PC
  • Take off all your clothes
  • Run around outside screaming "I'm under attack!"

I'm kidding. I shouldn't even have to tell you I'm kidding. Here are the real steps you should take:

  • Check control panel / add remove programs (renamed to programs and features in Windows 7) and uninstall any junk or things you didn't know you had installed
  • Download Spybot Search and Destroy
  • Download MalwareBytes
  • Update the virus definitions on each
  • Scan the system twice
  • Reboot
  • Scan another time
  • The results at this point should be clean. If not, repeat the process

The reason you want to scan mutliple times is that often times when you clean one issue, another is uncovered. The reboot is needed just in case there are some hidden programs waiting to startup so they'll just end up re-infecting the system.

So to wrap all of this up in a pretty little bow before shooting it full of lead and burying it, you could have the latest computer with the latest OS and the latest patches on it and you'll never be completely safe.

No virus protection or OS on the market can protect stupid people. Or even smart people like myself. Take my advice and you'll never have any issues.

* I didn't mean to insult you, fine reader. This was a call-back to a viral video remix featuring Antoine Dodson. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMtZfW2z9dw)

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