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The Computer Buzz March 26th, 2009

Nome and Paul Van Middlesworth - owners - The Computer Fact


Avoiding "Malware"

Malware: From the words malicious and software, is software designed to infiltrate or damage a computer system without the owner's informed consent. Malware includes computer viruses, worms, trojan horses, most rootkits, spyware, dishonest adware, crimeware and other malicious and unwanted software.

The difference between a virus and other forms of malware is purpose. A virus is a frontal attack on your PC. Its purpose is to wreak havoc on your computer, then use your PC's connection to spread infection to others. A virus doesn't try to hide its presence. It may protect itself from your efforts to remove it by disabling features in your operating system designed to assist in virus removal but viruses are exhibitionists, they want you to know they are haunting your PC. They revel in your agony. A virus is the high tech version of a flaming bag of dog poop placed on your porch by mischievous trick or treaters. It has no constructive purpose other than the amusement of its twisted perpetrator.

Any anti-virus program will protect your PC from viruses. Norton, McAfee, AVG, Panda, Kasperski, Avast, all work. We particularly like Avast and AVG. Both are available on the WWW in both free and for pay versions. Paid versions provide tech support, free versions don't. We recommend taking the freebee.

We advise against installing Norton's "360" or "Internet Security" and any of the comprehensive Internet security suites offered by companies like Microsoft and McAffee. These "all in wonders" will slow your PC to a crawl, fight with other programs and deny access to web sites you wish to visit.

Non-virus malware is a far larger problem. These programs have an agenda. It may be to hijack your home page, flood you with ads, steal your personal information, record your Internet interests or simply use your PC as a resource in a criminal "botnet." Whatever the scenario, the purpose is to make money for someone. It is therefore usually in the best interest of the "perps" to keep you from knowing that your PC is infected. You start to suspect a problem when your PC begins to slow under the burden of hundreds of malware files.

The only truly effective way to prevent malware contact is the "Vatican method," total abstinence. Visiting popular sites like My Space, Face Book, Twitter, Lime Wire, I-Tunes and assorted adult content sites will ensure frequent contact with malware.

You need to scan your PC frequently (from "safe mode") with a cocktail of anti- malware programs. AVG anti-spyware (comes with free AVG anti-virus) Super Spyware Remover, Malwarebytes and Spybot Search and Destroy are a few. These "sweepers" are free downloads from the WWW.

It is also important to install all the latest security upgrades offered by the non-Microsoft Internet utilities like Real Player, Acrobat Reader, Adobe Flash Player, Quick time, Java, Google and others. These days over 80% of malware attacks use non-Microsoft programs as vectors to enter your PC.

When all else fails, bring it in. A clean-up costs from $75 to $105 depending upon what kind of car you're driving.





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