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.
Washington Post consumer technology editor
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