Safety awareness more important than antivirus programs | News

A large part of my job is helping my customers deal with virus-infected computers. All the antivirus programs in the world won’t help if you click on the wrong thing, and some folks, believe it or not, will click on anything.

The need to explain that antivirus programs are not perfect happens a lot.

In a way, many people have been conned into thinking that, simply because they have an antivirus program installed, their computer is protected from any and all Internet threats forever and ever, amen. Sorry, folks: that has never been true and probably never will be true.

I recall one particular person who had, unknown to him, been sending me spam email messages. Many computer viruses are designed to turn your computer into a spam forwarding center, sending hundreds or thousands of spam emails around the world without your knowledge.

When the messages arrive, they will have your email address listed as the sender and, if bad turns to worse, you will be blamed for sending spam messages designed to scam people out of their money, or even distribute other nasties, such as child pornography .

It’s sort of like if your kids were dealing drugs out of your back yard. Maybe you didn’t know they were dealing drugs from your back yard, but, because you are the parent and it’s your back yard, you could ultimately take the blame for dealing drugs, because you are responsible for what happens in your own back yard .

“How,” my customer wondered, “could my computer be infected? I’m using an updated antivirus program. I ran a scan and it didn’t find anything. How could a virus have gotten through?”

The sad truth is, no antivirus program is perfect. They all fall down on the job somewhere, especially when you willfully click on the wrong thing and, in essence, tell the antivirus program to let it in.

There is no such thing as a “set it and forget it” computer security solution; it simply does not exist. Numerous studies have been done which prove this point. Unfortunately, due to high-powered advertising and marketing campaigns, many people refuse to believe it.

Good computer security is done in layers, like layers of an onion.

Many components need to be in place before any level of confidence can be achieved. Expecting a simple antivirus program to provide perfect security is like expecting a new set of tires to prevent you from wrecking your car. Your car also needs things like brakes, wipers and mirrors in its automobile security package.

Even with all the right layers, such as antivirus, antispam, firewalls, browser protection and security updates, computer security cannot be 100% guaranteed.

Maybe you’ll sail across the Internet, forever trouble-free, or, like most of us, you’ll have an occasional flat tire or fender-bender.

Just keep in mind that Internet safety depends on you being aware of your online surroundings and the potential perils that exist.

Just like being “weather-aware,” train yourself to be “Internet safety-aware” and you’ll most likely be OK.

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