Protecting Your PC
While most of the junk you get in your e-mail is just annoying, some messages have a dark side. Every time you turn your computer on, you expose your data to threats from viruses, worms, trojans, backdoors and other hacker tricks. While there is no single approach that provides 100% protection from attacks, a combination of knowledge and smart computing can keep you and your data safe.
The bottom line: there is absolutely no substitute for anti-virus software. When properly installed and regularly updated most anti-virus programs will catch and clean about 95 percent of all viruses, worms and other unwanted attacks. Popular dependable packages range from $10 - $100 and are well worth the peace of mind. Check the Links page for leading anti-virus manufacturers.
Since no anti-virus program is completely infallible, you must also be knowledgeable of the variety of types of attacks to which you may be susceptible if you want to be as protected as possible.
Viruses and their ilk are all-to-real, but e-mail virus warnings are most often flat-out hoaxes. Some hoaxes actually go as far as to convince you to delete important files (as in the jdbgmgr.exe virus hoax). Even in the cases when the virus is real, the e-mail notices about them contain too little information to be useful. Even worse, some viruses (like the Klez virus) actually masquerade as an e-mail warning and disinfecting tool from a friend!
The damage caused by viruses and similar risks ranges from minor annoyances (glitches, error messages), to data theft, to disabling your computer. If you keep your software up-to-date and practice safe e-mailing, you can safely delete any e-mail virus warning you get.
Installing a firewall program, along with anti-virus software, provides a powerful one-two punch against hackers who would try to steal your data. Firewalls prevent unauthorized people and programs from copying information to or from your computer without your permission and can detect attacks antivirus software alone could miss. Check the Links page for firewall resources.
Round out your protection with an adware/spyware detector, which identifies cookies and programs, often installed without your knowledge, that collect information about your surfing habits and send it to someone else. Most adware is relatively harmless and used legitimately to gather demographic information about a site's customers in order to customize their experience. But some cross the line into spyware, giving lurkers more information than you want to share. An adware/spyware detector can help identify the bad guys. Check the Links page for adware/spyware resources.
Disclaimer: BreakTheChain.org is not an expert authority on computer security. The advice above is intended only as a guideline for safe computing. If you have questions or concerns about viruses, worms or other attacks, please consult the experts.