September 2, 2014

Medina
Intermittent clouds
69°F

Fight viruses with updated protection

By BRIAN SCHWARTZ
Cybertalk

More and more people every day have spyware, malware, keyloggers and other vicious software installed on their systems and they don’t even know it. In a past column, I discussed some things you can do to keep yourself protected. I feel it is necessary to talk about keeping yourself safe online by talking about the things you can do to protect yourself.

Anti-virus software

Symantec Norton, McAfee, AVG, avast! and others are some of the most popular brands of anti-virus software available. When you purchase this software, some include a multiple computer license. These are beneficial to people who have multiple computers in their household. All anti-virus programs will come with at least a one-year subscription. Most people think when their subscriptions end they are perfectly fine and can’t get hit with anything because they have the software.

This is absolutely incorrect. The reason you pay for a subscription is to keep your software up-to-date with the latest definition files. The company provides these definitions. This allows your software to find the viruses and destroy them. Anti-virus software not only blocks viruses, but also helps maintain your computer and provide backup solutions.

If paying for the software or the subscription service is not your cup of tea, then there are also many anti-virus programs that are free to use and have free definition files with them as well. AVG (free.avg.com) is my favorite free anti-virus software. Free software, although just as powerful as purchased software, is not as automated. This means you have to check up on it to make sure it is doing everything it should be doing.

Anti-spyware software

Some anti-virus software does provide anti-spyware support, but not all do. These programs mostly are free, with some having a subscription service for definitions.

The software that stands out in this category are the ones that are always protecting. This means they will block the spyware as it comes in, versus catching it after the fact while it is scanning. Although software that is always protecting is not perfect, it is better than nothing.

My personal favorite is Windows Defender (www
.windowsdefender.com). This program, created and run by Microsoft, also is built into Windows Vista. If you are running Windows Vista, there is no need to download and install it.

The best protection

It’s free, constantly updated and always working. That protection is you. Think of anti-virus and anti-spyware software as insurance for yourself. Not one program out there is perfect and can catch everything that happens. We aren’t perfect either, and that’s why the software is there to catch our mistakes.

Remember, don’t click on links in e-mails. Always go to your browser and type in the Web site directly. If something is important enough for someone to send an e-mail, they definitely will post it on your account when you sign in.

Be cautious when you travel to unfamiliar Web sites. If you are doing a Google search on something and some Web sites that seem a little strange come up in the results, think about what is more important: the information you are looking up that you can probably find on a more popular, mainstream Web site, or the pictures of your children and grandchildren you have on your computer. You do have those pictures backed up, right?

Next month we’ll talk about backing up files on your computer.

Schwartz, a graduate of Cloverleaf High School and the Medina County Career Center, is a student at the University of Akron.