First and foremost, you cannot operate a Microsoft Windows-based
computer on the Internet without adequate virus protection. Adequate
is defined as this: a paid Internet solution that will catch viruses
and Trojans on the fly and give you protection prior to infection.
Every antivirus company has a free product for the masses.
Agreeably, the free antivirus is better than no antivirus. But the
free one only helps you if you are already infected.
The way most viruses and Trojans work these days is that when
they infect, the first thing they do is disable the installed
antivirus program's ability to detect the virus. That means the
virus renders your antivirus null and void. It becomes a novelty
rather than a crime-fighting hero.
Paid antivirus programs at least give you a fighting chance. Most
detect the incoming invader and prevent it from infecting before it
begins to do harm. And paid antivirus programs do not give you a
license to do dumb things.
Most viruses and Trojans at a minimum screw up your computer's
ability to think straight. They drain your computer's resources and
make way for bigger and meaner viruses and Trojans that are designed
to either take over your computer or steal your important
So, preventing them from doing their dastardly deeds is
In addition to viruses and Trojans, the new risk on the Internet
is from download sites that offer you important drivers, important
programs, and programs and games you might be interested in. These
sites used to be helpful, but now they are very dangerous. There are
fakes galore out there. They offer you something and give you
something else —
meaning they plant a Trojan on your computer to steal your identity,
or at a minimum, annoy you greatly.
Rule of thumb: When you need to download a program like a VNP
program or a device driver, go to the first-party site rather than
the plethora of third-party sites offering the software. For
example, if you need a SonicWALL VNP program, go to the Dell
SonicWALL site and check carefully to make sure it is the real Dell
SonicWALL site. When you are sure you are in the right place, only
then do you take the chance to download the program. The same goes
for any software or drivers you are seeking: Use only trusted
first-party sites. ALL THIRD-PARTY SITES WILL GIVE YOU SOMETHING
EXTRA YOU DON'T WANT!
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Everything has a cost, and downloading cute games and clever
utilities from free sites is extremely dangerous because you end
up paying. You not only get the utility or game, but also the
extra annoying backup program offer, or the continuous pop-up
promising to optimize your computer. These are malware programs
that will have to be removed because ultimately they will invite
in their bigger, badder mafioso cousins that will try to remove
your wallet and your identity from your back pocket.
Trojans, such as Heartbleed, lurk out there waiting to steal your
computer-based passwords and private information like bank account
information. The reality of using the Internet: It's dangerous out
Newer viruses and Trojans attack even Apple OS and IOS-based
equipment, so taking precautions on every platform is important.
Once thought invincible, Chromebooks might even be compromised by
One more warning: We are still living in the era when dangerous
email attachments can compromise your computer's health. Trojans
lurk in email attachments ready to infect your computer and cost you
money. Many new viruses such as CryptoLocker will take your computer
hostage and demand that you pay a ransom within a period of time or
they permanently lock up your important files. These Trojans are
known as ransomware.
RULE OF THUMB: Pay careful attention to the emails you receive,
subscribe to a spam filter, and never, never open attachments from
suspicious unknown sources. CryptoLocker comes in attachments
labeled from UPS, FedEx and DHL, with email messages that say you
missed an important package. The legitimate companies will never use
email to notify you of a missed package. Don't open the attachment.
The rule of the Internet: Use common sense, arm yourselves and
take care out there. Proceed at your own risk, and use adequate
[By JIM YOUNGQUIST]
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