Defending the Internet and Yourself

I’m often asked, most usually by a friend or client that recently suffered a virus infection, why are computer viruses so rampant? Who is writing them and why?

This video is an excellent explanation to the driving forces behind the current state of computer viruses.

Mikko Hyppönen shares the story behind PC viruses

 

Make sure to watch through the 15-min mark and then think about your own defense and preparations.

4 Steps to Protect Yourself

 

  1. Backup – You will be infected, computers do break so backup your data. I prefer to use an online backup like Mozy or Crashplan and I also make a copy to an external Hard Drive.
  2. Keep your Antivirus Updated – Do not allow your antivirus subscription lapse. Save some money and use an excellent free antivirus like Microsoft Security Essentials.
  3. Use a firewall – This is especially critical if you use a laptop on public wireless networks. The Windows firewall has improved but I suggest ZoneAlarm’s Free Firewall
  4. Apply Updates – This applies to your operating system, your applications, and your web browser.
    1. Windows Updates – Turn on automatic updates to receive the latest patches
    2. Applications – This is a bit more difficult but try a tool like Secunia PSI to scan and update vulnerable applications.
    3. Browser Updates – Your web browser uses little add plugins like Flash and Java and they are continually updated (and exploited) so check your addons with Mozilla’s Plugin Check, it works with any browser.

Yes this seems like a lot of trouble but a PC requires regular maintenance and the headache of being infected is much greater.

Finally, use common sense.

  • Don’t click links in spam. If an offer seems too good to be true it is.
  • Don’t click suspicious updates from Facebook and especially don’t authorize some app just because it asked you.
  • Did your friend send you a strange attachment? Ask them about it before opening.

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