Computer Security

Viruses, Trojans, Spyware, Hackers and Things that go bump in the night.

On many of the service calls I make I find the computer’s security compromised by viruses, clogged by spyware and in pretty rough shape. Often the user doesn’t even know it, just that strange things have been happening and their system seems much slower than it used to. The cost and difficulty of removing these viruses can be quite high. A few can actually destroy data. How to minimize risk?

First, you must have a good, up-to-date anti-virus program. There are many, such as Norton, McAfee, Trend Micro. They usually cost around $100 and are well worth it. There is one good program free to private, home users called AVG, downloadable from www.grisoft.com. The key, however, is UP-TO-DATE. New viruses are constantly being disseminated and the anti-virus (AV) program’s database must be regularly updated. After a few weeks, without frequent updates, it’s no better than no AV program at all. Most AV software now has an automatic update feature. Whichever you use, please read far enough in the user manual or Help file to know that the program is being kept up-to-date.

Do not open files files attached to an email (1) from an unknown source (2)unless you know what it is, even if it appears to come from someone you know. Better be safe than sorry and confirm that they really sent it BEFORE opening it. (3) if the subject line is questionable.

Be particularly cautious about emails seeming to be from your bank or other reputable source asking for your password. Reputable internet sites NEVER will ask for your password. If in doubt, call the institution to verify any email.

Exercise caution downloading files from the Internet. Ensure that the source is a legitimate and reputable one. Some “free” programs or images can be very expensive. Use Google or Xtramsn search to check out any doubtful source before downloading.

(to be continued)