Charleston Tech Support News

Protecting Yourself On Windows

Protecting Yourself On Windows

I received an email from the Post & Courier last week asking about a rise in malicious software infections in the Charleston, SC area. I let the reporter know that I hadn’t seen a spike recently, but that it’s more of a constant issue that customers call about. I also wrote up a summary of the things that leave people more vulnerable to viruses, trojans, & most other forms of malicious software. I thought I’d share that with you here:

The number one issue is that people are still using Internet Explorer. I can’t stress enough to people to please use Google Chrome instead. I used to be a big fan of Firefox, but in recent months it too has often failed on the security front. Google’s approach has been the most effective to date by keeping the browser in a virtual sandbox.

Consumers don’t update their software. Software companies are constantly patching their software against bugs and security holes, and many infections take advantage of holes that have already been patched – because they know that the consumer hasn’t applied the update yet! The bad guys prey on the fact that people don’t patch their computers because patching software is time consuming and confusing. Each vendor has a different method and they all want to do it as soon as you turn on your PC, so much so that you ignore all of them so you can just do whatever it was you sat down in front of your PC to do. It’s your responsibility to put some time aside each week to pay attention to those nagging updates and take the proper action on them. If you’re not sure about an update, then Google it and make sure it’s legit.

People trust their security software too much. The problem used to be that people wouldn’t keep their anti-virus software up to date, and their neglect would result in a vulnerable computer. I can tell you that every computer is a vulnerable computer! Malicious code writers have made a profitable industry for themselves and will continue to be a day ahead of the anti-virus software vendors. You need to be a bit more diligent when you click on anything at anytime. Read before you click and pay attention to what you are doing. Most of the infections are introduced by no more than old fashioned carnival tricks – they trick you into clicking, installing, and even giving over your credit card information! Trust no one and click wisely. Nobody is going to contact you on Facebook with a pornographic video starring you, so don’t fall for it!

Lastly, if you are using a web email client such as Yahoo Mail or Hotmail that displays graphical ads, ditch it. Move over to GMail. A large percentage of infections I have gotten calls about were transmitted through Yahoo or Hotmail. I have only once seen a GMail user get infected, and that was more of a case of “clicking on a link before thinking” issue. If you don’t want to switch, then try using a program such as AdBlock Plus to control the display of graphical advertisements.

And there you have it. I hope this gives you an edge on using your Microsoft Windows-based PC more securely.