Do I really need it?

(or “why is my computer acting funny and where on Earth are all of my photos?”)

Many people out there have never seen a virus on their home computers, while some have a seemingly non-stop run of attacks. 

The sad fact is that there are coders out there who spend their whole life trying to write the ultimate virus that will make mince-meat of everybody’s personal hard drives, delete files or send spam emails to everyone’s inbox via your account. 

If you have not had the opportunity to experience this first hand, I can guarantee this…..YOU DO NOT WANT TO! Years of photos, personal files, home movies and tax files can be lost in a heartbeat if the ‘wrong’ virus gets onto your machine. 

Nowadays, with the ease and affordability of having a PC at home, along with the low prices of Internet connections, it is fair to say that a couple of things are true for most people: your internet connection is live all the time whether you are actually using it or not, and most people have a fairly simplistic approach to Internet Security….ie “I think Windows looks after that”, or “I am sure the computer has something installed that looks after security”. 

With all of these facts in mind it is time to get a virus program sooner rather than later. If you already know that you have a paid or valid subscription – well done to you! You are safer than most!

If you don’t know, there are a couple of things you might want to do: For Windows 7 users, click on the Start orb, then Control Panel, and at the very top of the big list, select the ‘Action Centre’. This will display a few things that are important, but the one we want is the Security section. Expand this section and look down the list for notes on your Virus Protection. Straight away you will see whether you have virus protection, as well as whether it is up to date or not, and switched on. If it is all listed here with no warnings or alerts, you should be OK. * 

If you find that the virus scanner is out of date, then you need to take some action now. You could re-subscribe to the software you have if you are satisfied with what it does and how it does it (ie Norton, McAfee, PC-Cillin etc) or you could just go for one of the decent free options. 

A couple of the free options I would recommend are Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE), AVG or AVAST!. I use AVAST! free edition on my home computers, and recommend it to clients because of four very important factors: 

1 – it is free. (You can upgrade to a much higher security level if you want to, or if you use it for a business network, but the basic protection puts you way ahead of most viruses already.) 

2 – it works! I have NEVER been attacked by a virus using this software. 

3 – it is updated constantly with current virus data. 

4 – I don’t notice when it is doing its job! 

These ‘free’ packages are supplied by reputable paid virus software companies in order to gain much more virus data than they would if they had only a paid subscription database, and everyone benefits from this. For example, AVAST! Free is currently registered on over 162,000,000 computers right now, so imagine all the viruses they can see and combat with that sort of input! 

To help prevent attacks, delete emails that offer you an incentive or a seemingly valid reason to open an attached file (UPS Delivery is a common virus in emails) and minimise your use of websites that throw up a lot of popup windows and advertisements, as these are known to sometimes carry virus files in them. Just be careful when you surf the 'net. 

Remember that the cost of not having virus software can be devastating, so don’t put yourself at risk – check your protection status now and save yourself the heartache of losing important files and irreplaceable photos. 

Happy and SAFE surfing! 

Regards 

Steve 

Extensive I.T. 


* If you are not confident in checking this for yourself, just ask the question on the Extensive I.T. Facebook page and I will be happy to guide you where I can.