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Why You Need to Guard Your Computer

Occasionally, I'll hear from readers who are sick of how difficult and complex it is to keep a PC safe on the Internet but who simultaneously can't give up going online. So they adopt a certain fatalism, saying, in effect, "These extra pop-up ads are annoying, but it's just too much work to fix this week."

The problem is, you can't be sure that the spyware infesting your machine is only pulling down extra, unwanted ads. A story on our Web site this afternoon explains the potential downside:  "Three suspects in a Dutch crime ring hacked 1.5 million computers worldwide, setting up a 'zombie network' that secretly stole credit card and other personal data, prosecutors said Thursday."

So the worst-case scenario isn't just extra ad pollution, but the use of your hardware and Internet bandwidth to commit crimes. Your hacked computer is not just your problem; it can be everybody's problem. But how do you start securing your computer? Here's the how-to piece I wrote last December.

-- Rob Pegoraro
Washington Post consumer technology editor

By Brian Krebs  |  October 20, 2005; 5:45 PM ET
Categories:  Safety Tips  
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Comments

It's somewhat frightening how many people do not understand this basic point. They set up a wireless network with no encryption and say "who cares if someone uses it"

I always ask them if they still won't care if something like child porn is traced back to their IP.

Posted by: Matt | October 20, 2005 6:47 PM | Report abuse

One good way to secure your computer, is to stop using Windows!! Mac isn't much safer, but Linux is usually a LOT safer in terms of exploits, and it's 100% Free!

Aside from 'KeyGhost' (http://www.keyghost.com/photos.htm), there is no such thing as a linux desktop keystroke logger, so identity theft that much less of an issue!

Sure, there are still problems with The Mozilla Firefox Web Browser, but it has only been around 2 years or so, and has had much more focus on security in those 2 years than Microsoft will ever put into Internet Explorer.

Unfortunatly, Microsoft spends LOTS of money on anti-linux media coverage, which has left the world with the impression that linux is not ready for the average desktop user, when in reality, the average desktop user is simply not ready for linux!

Posted by: Sean | October 20, 2005 8:08 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Sean when he says "stop using Windows!" although he is way off about the Mac. I have yet to even hear of a virus for a Mac and I thank my lucky stars every time I read about how many virus attacks PC users suffer. Their acceptance of such shoddy security continues to amaze me.

Posted by: Peter | October 20, 2005 11:00 PM | Report abuse

I have been a windows user all my adult life until September of this year when I bought a Powerbook. With Windows and Internet Explorer I was under a constant barrage of pop-ups. They became less so when i seitched to Mozilla Firefox. They are non-exixtant with the Mac and Safari. The constant security patches required by Microsoft were a testamant to ther lack of concern for their customers.

Posted by: Mike | October 21, 2005 10:31 AM | Report abuse

"Occasionally, I'll hear from readers who are sick of how difficult and complex it is to keep a PC safe on the Internet..."

IMHO, it's not that it's difficult to protect a PC...it's simply that folks aren't doing anything.

Do you have be an expert at using Windows or a developer to do so? No, not at all. But you do have to follow some pretty simple advice.

Linux isn't the answer, either. If someone can't configure Windows, how do you expect them to configure Linux?

Look at it this way...if you put your hand on a hot stove and burn yourself, someone's going to tell you, "don't do that." It sounds to me as if people are continuing to put their hand on that hot stove, burning themselves...and complaining about it.

Posted by: H. Carvey | October 21, 2005 10:40 AM | Report abuse

One good way to secure your computer, is to stop using Windows!! Mac isn't much safer, but Linux is usually a LOT safer in terms of exploits, and it's 100% Free!

Sorry, but you're not correct here. Mac and Linux are basically the same thing - Unix, and are both equally safe and 100% safer than Windows because no viruses exist for them - period.

The plus with Mac OSX over Linux distros is that you get a computer any child or adult can use and be safe with without having to learn techno babble. Macs also run Microsoft Office, Adobe, and all the other mainline apps that run on Windows and come with all drivers for everything pre-installed.

The hardware is pretty cool looking too.

Posted by: Mateo | October 25, 2005 12:35 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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