Archive for November, 2009

Protecting yourself by protecting your computer

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Protecting yourself from malicious software can be a “full-time” venture. The number of viruses, trojans, rogues, spyware, adware, and other malware infections continues to rise in the United States. These nasty little scripts can cause problems from a slow computer to data loss to being framed for child pornography. Yes, some of the current malware infections can even open “backdoors” to your computer allowing some very nasty people to save information, even pictures or videos, on your computer without your knowledge. In an Associated Press investigation, reported by Jordan Robertson, individuals have been accused of, and charged with, child pornography for pictures found on their computers of which they had no knowledge. This is very scary and, potentially, an extremely serious problem. If pornographic pictures can be placed on your computer without your knowledge and accessed across the internet whenever the perpetrator wants, how about stolen bank records or credit card information, maybe even terrorist plans or hacked national security files that would then be considered to be in your possession – they are on your computer, right?
So what can you do? How can you protect yourself? Dennis Hughes, an FBI agent, once said, “The only secure computer is one that’s unplugged, locked in a safe, and buried 20 feet under the ground in a secret location… and I’m not even too sure about that one”. While quite funny, this quote is also eerily true. But there are things that you can do to protect yourself: maintain your antivirus software, keep your operating system updated, protect your passwords, clean up your computer by deleting unneeded or unused document files, clear your temporary internet files and cookies, and run scans for malware and remove any infections, even minor ones, immediately.
For more information on the AP investigation, check out Jordan Robertson’s November 15, 2009 article, “Computer users claim they were framed by a virus”. You can view the article at http://labs.daylife.com/journalist/jordan_robertson. If you want help protecting your computer, contact your current IT support professional or call CET, your computer magicians.