Well, there… now that I’m breathing again…
I spent all morning disinfecting my computer of a pretty bad trojan/virus/spyware. In spite of my up-to-date security software, those nasty lil’ buggers can still get in. This particular one even kept me from accessing the internet until I removed the “local network blah-blah” that it self-installed. At best, these infections can slow your system down. At worst, they can steal your personal and financial info, send you scads of unwanted e-mail, crash your system, erase your hard drive, give you cooties, and take away your birthday.
Having weathered my share of scares, It’s been my experience that no one system keeps everything out. I currently use CA Security, which is the service provided to Roadrunner customers. By and large, it does a pretty thorough job. However, I still got bit. To locate the problem, I had to download and run SUPERAntispyware — a free download that caught a lot of the spyware that CA had missed. And now, like the short lady in Poltergeist said, “This house is clean.”
What frightens me most is when you consider how many attempts are made to infect your system day-to-day. For heavy web users, I have to imagine that the digital Jehovah’s Witnesses must knock on your computer’s door dozens of times a day. Click an ad in the sidebar? Mis-type a URL and it takes you to a suspicious page with pop-ups? A window comes up that looks like Internet Explorer telling you you’re at risk? Nope. That’s more of ’em trying to sneak under the velvet rope past the bouncer.
And to my Facebook friends: I love you all, I swear. But I don’t want a Little Green Plant, or a Bumper Sticker, or a Drink, or to take a Movie Quiz or be added to your Birthday Calendar. Every one of those things adds an application to your Facebook profile which asks if it can access “your data.” Which data? How much? Probably more than you’d like. So I’m gonna choose “Ignore” every time you send one. Nothing personal, I promise.
So, the takeaway, here (and I know I’m gonna sound like a parent talking to a
teenager for the hundredth eye-rolling time about being careful with the car), is to simply be careful. Question everything. Treat every browsing session like a walk through a dark alley at night. Take a second look at those links you click, those files you open, and those attachments you download. Keep your security updated, and most importantly, educate yourself on how to scour and de-bug your system if it does get infected.
Or just switch to a Mac. I haven’t made the full transition yet, but every morning I have like this one makes the case stronger.