Home > Computing > Computing safety – I see this every day (PSA)

Computing safety – I see this every day (PSA)

In the time periods that I’m not baking, grilling, or playing, I have a regular type job working with computers. Too often I run across folks who get owned because they send credit card info over unencrypted email, don’t patch their machines regularly (especially if Windows is your main OS), and allow malware to accumulate to where the machine slows to a crawl.

Malware is just that: It’s bad for your machine. It spies on you when you’re browsing around sites so that the authors can send you random email messages you didn’t ask for, and it can even spy on you when  you’re doing your online banking or other transactions and take your credentials. It can send yucky emails to everyone in your contact list. Overall, it’s just a major pain to deal with.

So what can happen if your Windows machine lacks critical patches? Well, let’s see:

  • Something your machine gets infected with can turn it into a mindless zombie to use in attacks against other machines.
  • Your machine gets hacked so bad there is no way to recover apart from a full system reload. That takes time, energy, and money if you have to hire someone to do it.
  • Rootkits can be installed as a way for a hacker to get into your machine’s command line whenever they want via a backdoor.

I can go on and on, but you get the idea.

People ask me what things can they do to prevent this, and here are my suggestions:

  1. Make sure your antivirus software is updated regularly (new definitions come up every week), and a full scan is scheduled to run at least weekly.
  2. Windows Update is there for a reason; check at least on a weekly basis for new updates. Tuesday is usually the day patches are released.
  3. Don’t open suspicious looking emails or their attachments. Email attachments are often the vector used for infection/installation.
  4. Run antispyware software regularly (make sure to update it before you do). Malwarebytes is one used by many techies in the field.

If this helps just one person, I’ll be happy 🙂

Categories: Computing
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