Computer & PC Help

Internet Security and Virus Protection12 Jan

I get many questions on this subject so I decided to write about this for you.  I get questions like “Am I protected?” “Does my virus protection do the right job?”, “Is my protection enough? “And “Do I have the “right” virus protection?”

Basically all virus protection products do the same thing.  That is, to protect you from viruses and spyware.  The basic difference in the products is how much they ‘tax’ your CPU or simply how much they slow you down.  As you all know my preference is Vipre.  I push the product because it doesn’t slow you down and it doesn’t add time to your already long boot up time.  You virus protection usually loads up when you boot up and then runs a scan and depending upon the brand of virus protection will determine how fast or slow this process takes.  You can always change the setting of your virus protection not to scan on start-up but if you do that just remember to at least run a scan once a week.  Basically your virus protection is only as good as its last update – so update it often, it will tell you when it’s out of date.  Just remember the virus protection plays catch up with the viruses; and sometimes they are ahead of the “game”, but most of the time they react.  Still, it’s important to have virus protection.

Then we have the Internet Security products again basically they all do the same thing.  Do you need such a product?  Well that’s purely a personal preference.  That too has its issues. These products with the built in firewalls can also cause you issues if you don’t understand how to use them.  Basically what a firewall does is block your internet access and unless you “allow” the site it will not let you get to that particular site.  Will that stop you from getting a virus or downloading spyware, in a word NO.

I prefer a free product called WOT – Web of Trust.  This is available for Firefox, Internet Explorer and Google Chrome.  You have to download this  What this product does is warn you if a site isn’t trust worthy.  Then it’s up to you to decide if you still want to visit that site.  Is it full-proof? Probably not but it allow you to be aware of what you are visiting on the web.  It’s easy to set up and cost nothing to install.  It will not slow you down either. I recommend it to all my clients.

Your best protection from a virus, unwanted downloads, spyware, etc., is YOU.  You need to be aware of what you are doing on the internet and what emails you are opening.  Think of it like this.  Would you allow someone into your home without asking who it is first when they ring your bell?  Probably not.   Would you allow a repair person to enter you home to repair something if you didn’t call them first?  I doubt it.  So why would you open email from someone you don’t know?  Or open an email that says you are expecting something when you didn’t even order anything?  For example, why open an email from FedEx, Ups even the post office, if you’re not expecting something? Besides these places will NEVER send you mail with attachments to open. They many send you a link with a tracking number.  Also, look at the senders name and address, that will tell you if it’s real or not. Another clue is misspelled words, you usually don’t receive email with misspelled words. Remember, the IRS, Microsoft or even your bank will NEVER send you email asking you to verify who you are.  Why have you won a lottery that you didn’t even enter?  I guess it’s the old saying “curiosity killed the cat” or in this case “curiosity ripped you off”

Your awareness is most important when surfing the internet too.  If something starts to download that you don’t want simply close your browser (IE, Firefox or Chrome) before it starts installing.  READ everything you are clicking on; don’t say yes to something if you don’t know what you are saying yes to.  Would you sign a document without reading it first?  Same rules apply on the net.  Is it safe to buy things on the internet or even do my banking?  Yes it is, but again be aware of what you are doing.  A secure site will appear as https and usually have a lock on the bottom right hand corner of the screen.  If the site isn’t secure, think twice before you buy.  You’ll see the lock when you go to the check out.  Most, if not all banks are secure sites so basically you are safe to do your banking and pay your bills.  BUT remember if your bank site doesn’t look right, it’s probably not right. That’s being aware.

Basically you are your best protection from spyware, virus’s and unwanted downloads.  Often I find stuff on machines and the users ask me, “How did that get there”?  Well basically you downloaded something because you weren’t paying attention to what you were doing.  Users always give me the same answer; “No I didn’t” Well my answer should be is well if you didn’t then someone did because it got installed.  But I just explain the situation and tell them to just be more aware and then I remove it.  How many times have you suddenly realized that your Internet Home Page (the first thing that appears when you open your browser – IE, Firefox or Chrome) has changed? Well this happened because you downloaded something and it changed your home page because you allowed it to do so.  Sometimes things you install from the internet without you even realizing it.  Java, for example will  try to install a tool bar for your browser,  unless you say no or uncheck that box. – See my older blog “How’d that get there?”

So to sum this all up basically install some type of internet virus protection on your PC.  Do you need to install internet security?  Up to you, but basically you should be a novice computer user to get the best out of that product.  What product should you buy?  Again, a personal preference, basically they are all the same and do the same thing.  It’s just a matter of how it slows down your PC.  I recommend Vipre but again it’s up to you. If you want to download a free trial of viper you can do so on my site. Try it and see if you like it – that’s how you decide. Just because a computer manufacturer sells a virus protection with its package doesn’t mean you have to purchase it, you can opt out and buy your own.  But again you are your best protection against viruses and spyware – being aware of what you do on the net is half the battle.  Lastly and to me most important is to download and install WOT (Web of Trust).  It’s a free tool that will make you aware of “bad” internet sites and it will help you to avoid the dreaded viruses and malware.

Hopefully I’ve made you think a little and you will be more aware of what you are doing on the net.  Happy Surfing everyone.

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