Viruses, Worms and Trojans…Oh My!  Viruses, Worms and Trojans…Oh My! 

 

Well, for those who remember The Wizard of Oz, you’ll recall Dorothy and her friends really had nothing to worry about.  But you do my friend!

 

Yes, malicious software is out there and the writers of this crap are truly out to get you!  So, you have very real reasons to be paranoid.

 

I know you are probably sick of hearing me talk about this so much but it really is dangerous and the sad part is, just because you have Anti-virus software installed doesn’t mean you are truly safe!

 

You may have heard the phrase “safe sex” referring to the use of a condom.  Guess what! The only “safe sex” is a monogamous, not to be confused with monotonous, heterosexual relationship within the bonds of traditional marriage.  (Feel free to leave a comment on my blog disagreeing with this view if you wish, just keep it kind or if you wish you may leave a positive comment as well.)

 

Well, just as using a condom does not guarantee against the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, neither does having Anti-Virus Software guarantee you are safe from malicious software on the Internet!  Commonsense is required too.

 

Please read up on this issue as much as you possibly can.

 

A few factoids:

  • A recent study concluded consumers paid $7,800,000,000 over a two year period having professionals clean up their computers.  That is Billion with a “B!”
  • Spam gets the most press, but it is mainly annoying.  Viruses, Worms and Trojans accounted for 5.8 billion of those dollars.
  • Infections of spyware, a type of software that can track computer users’ habits or collect sensitive information about them, are also a problem. Such infections caused almost 1 million U.S. households to replace their computers, in the same time period. (Incidentally, a lot of these probably were replaced needlessly!)
  • Losses from phishing scams, which are fake e-mails and Web pages that request sensitive data such as bank-account passwords. Such scams cost consumers $630 million in 2004 and 2005. That’s an average loss of $850 per incident.
  • Cyber-crime, which is outright thievery, is growing too.  The Federal Trade Commission reported that nearly half of all complaints to their office in 2005 were Internet-related with losses nearly $335,000,000.

It is really hard to tell who is directly impacted by all this, but ultimately consumers, you, are paying for all of these financial losses, either directly or indirectly through increased costs.

 

So, please make sure you have protection for:

  1. Virues, Worms and Trojans (anti-virus software)
  2. Spyware/Adware (anti-spyware software)
  3. A Firewall (to prevent unauthorized access of your PC.)
  4. Common Sense (To prevent you from doing something you shouldn’t.)

 

And remember, these products cannot be loaded and just forgotten.  You must update them on a regular basis.  What is regular?  At least weekly.

 

Don’t have the money to purchase this protection?  Then you’ll end up having to pay someone like The Computer Guys LLC to fix your PC once it is hit.  Or you can use a variety of completely free and legal software solutions.

 

If you want a totally free and legal solution is what you are looking for then here is one combination you can use:

 

  1. Microsoft Windows XP firewall
  2. Microsoft Defender (anti-spyware)
  3. ClamWin (anti-virus with some anti-spyware.  http://clamwin.org)

 

One last thing…malicious software is also spread through websites and browser plug-ins.  Never ever click on an active link in an email.  The link may say it is one thing but really another.  For example click on the following link to visit a Really Inspirational Site.  If you were to click on the link I’ve provided you would end up at CNN.  (Not exactly inspirational.)  What a really nasty person might do is send you to a site that looks inspirational but could be downloading nasty software on your PC without your knowledge or consent.  Also, never add any shopping helpers, or search helpers.  Quite often they too are loading crap on your PC that could ultimately cause you to have to pay several hundreds of dollars to get it working again.

 

Well, watch out for the lions and tigers and bears!

 

Dennis “The Wiz” Wilson

Happy Surfing.

 

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