SECURITY Basics

by Rich Aber

Security basics

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Malware, viruses, trojans, keyloggers, phishing… the Internet can be a dangerous place.

It’s important to be aware of potential threats, how to recognize them, and how to defend against them.

Rule #1: The most simple, basic truism of computing is that everybody needs antivirus! That includes Mac users. Don’t believe the hype that some magical Macintosh shield is going to protect you from viruses, trojans, malware, and the like. Macs used to have such a small share of the personal computer market that they were virtually ignored by cyber criminals, but that has changed. All operating systems are vulnerable to attacks. None are 100 percent safe.

Rule #2: Only install an antivirus solution from a reputable, well-known source. Avoid obscure antivirus products or products from unknown companies, and never download antivirus from a file sharing site or peer-to-peer network. Installing a “cracked” or “pirated” antivirus product would be like handing the keys of your house to a burglar.

Know the name of your antivirus product and know the company it came from. If you see an antivirus window or message pop up on a website, tread very carefully. Criminals are known to frequently trick Internet users into inadvertently downloading malware disguised as antivirus software. This is why you should be familiar with your
own antivirus product, so you can differentiate what is a legitimate message from your antivirus, and what is a bogus message from “the bad guys” trying to trick you.

Antivirus recommendations:

Windows users: Microsoft Security Essentials. This is a good antivirus product, provided free direct from Microsoft. A must for Windows users.

Mac users: Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac Home Edition. It’s free, trusted, reputable and fast. Also removes Windows malware from e-mail, so Mac users don’t inadvertently pass along infections.

Advanced options: If you want to pay for antivirus protection, I suggest McAfee Total Protection for Windows, or Intego VirusBarrier X6 for the Mac.

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