I just sent this to a few friends but it bears repeating to whatever audience I have here on the Interwebs. A while back I got a message forwarded from my brother from his IT guy. There are some new nasty viruses floating on the net. Just today I read about a new one on a web forum that doesn’t panic without cause. This piece of malware actually encrypts your data and then demands a ransom to get it back. So here’s Jerol’s guide to keeping your computer clean.
First of all, you should never open email that is not from someone you know or a company that has a legit reason to email you. I know my gmail filters 99% of these without me seeing them but most email servers aren’t that good. Carjo uses Outlook/MSN and she gets a frightful amount of spam but it at least gets sent to junk mail.
Second, back your stuff up at work and home. That means everything: photos, videos, documents, etc. go onto an external hard drive and you disconnect that from your computer. We’ve got separate hard drives for all three of our computers but I often leave them connected to the machines (except the laptop). I gotta stop doing that. External drives are relatively cheap. Get one or two. I know some guys that keep one in a safety deposit box and every now and then, load new stuff on it. That way if your house burns, gets flooded, or whatever, your digital stuff is safe.
Third, be careful where you go online. Checking your email at a coffee shop is no longer risk free. Those networks are ridiculously easy to hack. If you are going to surf the Net at one of those places, I suggest you follow step four.
Fourth, get a real virus program. McAffee and Norton are for fools. Get AVG, Windows Defender, or Webroot. AVG even has a free program that is five times better than the one that comes with your PC. Download MalwareBytes while you’re at it and cleanse your machine.
Fifth, stop downloading. I’ve downloaded my share of content but those days are gone. In the days of streaming music and video, there is no longer any reason to download anything. Stream it or go without. Got it?
Sixth, Apple is no longer invulnerable. That was a nice myth while it lasted but they can be hacked just as easy as Windows. Take the same precautions and you’ll be able to maintain your hard won Cupertino Superiority.
In short, like everywhere else, the Internet is a somewhat safe place but you have to be careful. I know far too many people that have this ridiculous notion that they are safe when they do none of the above. Don’t be one of them. Just remember the words of Sgt. Phil Esterhaus, follow the above guidelines, and you will remain above the fray.