Well…do you? Okay, I’m not talking about what you wear—or don’t—while surfing the Web. I’m talking about surfing the Web without a thread of protection. Since I’ve started down this path of visuals to make the point of this article, I’ll give you a visual of how dangerous it is to surf without protection. Picture yourself walking in a prison yard, or on a street in a bad section of town, completely naked. How do you imagine you would feel, and even more importantly, what do you imagine might happen to you?
Recently I was called to help a friend who was experiencing the wrath of one of those “You have a dangerous virus on your computer. Send us $59 to fix the problem” anti-virus malware infections. As you might expect, it locked up his computer, he couldn’t shutdown, couldn’t kill the malware, his computer was useless. It took considerable effort, including removing his hard disk drive, to get rid of the malware. This isn’t an uncommon occurrence in these times, but there’s more.
When asked if his anti-virus software was up to date, he remarked that he had none, that his subscription had run out two years before. Yep, he’d been using the Internet for two years without any security protection against viruses and other malware…surfing naked!!
My point here is that it’s extremely difficult to keep your computer safe while surfing the web with a good, updated and properly configured security package; it’s impossible to keep your computer safe without any package at all. Excuse me a second while I climb onto my soapbox…okay, here goes.
Just as that old cartoon said once; “we have met the enemy, and he is us”—or something like that; we, the individual users of the Internet are responsible for much of the malware and criminal activity on the Internet today. Yes, I said the folks sitting at home, innocently using the Internet are at fault. Let me explain. The majority of the people who use the Internet don’t use good security practices, leaving themselves vulnerable to criminal predators. This has encouraged the criminal faction to take advantage of this vulnerability to make money using malware for extortion, identity theft, credit card fraud, and the list goes on. The computer user mentality is that:
1. They don’t know about computer security…that stuff is for geeks and
2. Therefore they hide their heads in the sand and hope they won’t be attacked;
3. We all know that computer attacks happen to other people, not us…
4. Computer security is someone else’s problem; and
5. If we get a virus, we’ll just buy an new computer and continue on.
No wonder the Internet is riddled with danger…we’ve made it possible, through our ignorance and irresponsibility, for criminal organizations all over the world to become hugely rich by taking advantage of our mindless attitude and incompetence. Stepping off the soapbox now, albeit reluctantly.
Please become educated about computer security and start following the best practices for keeping your computer secure. You can get started by doing some reading at www.uscert.gov for starters. Then start following Bill Mullins blog at www.billmullins.wordpress.com, www.whatsonmypc.wordpress.com and this blog, to keep current on the latest happenings in computer security and malware.
As always, I appreciate your comments on this subject…so please do. And be careful out there…it’s extremely dangerous these days.
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Home computing is a blast…keep it safe, productive and enjoyable.