Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Top Ten excuses why people don't want to secure their computer

1. I don't have anything valuable on my computer anyway, so I don't need to worry about someone taking it over.

Actually, you have something very valuable on your computer, especially if you are on a fast internet connection. You have bandwidth. A lot of malware is designed to take over your computer and use it as a server to attack other computer, distribute SPAM or even deliver more malware. It will also steal your data, passwords and account numbers, so the criminals can steal your identity and everything you own. Even if you only use your computer for gaming, there are people now stealing passwords for some computer games so they can steal any reserves you have built up online.

2. The antivirus companies are the ones who put out all those viruses so they can sell their programs anyway. If I install their program, it will install their viruses.

This is mostly one of the silliest myths on the web. It is true that there are rogues that try to trick people into buying their programs by claiming your computer is infected:

List of Rogue Programs

However, the legit companies wouldn't even consider risking their reputations to make a few extra dollars. If they are recommended by reputable sources, they are going to be safe and useful. You need to be sure the source is reputable though. The people that create viruses and other malware are criminals and many are now part of organized crime gangs that make millions by stealing from people like you.

3. Running a firewall slows down my games.

Most firewalls have settings to allow you to play games without removing that protection. Even a few minutes online without your firewall can leave you infected.

4. The programs are too complicated.

Most programs have simple modes that can be set to update automatically and protect you without you having to do much more than renew a subscription or download a major update about once a year.

5. I don't have any money and the programs are all expensive.

You can assemble a very effective set of security programs for free. Even if you pay a bit for a program, it is a lot less than what you will pay to get your computer fixed and possibly deal with having your accounts cleared out by criminals.

6. I have heard that WinXP Service Pack 2 and 3 will cause problems on computers and I don't want to risk it.

That is sort of like saying I will jump off of the cliff because I don't want to risk slipping on the rocks climbing down. SP2 is probably the most important security update that MicroSoft has released for any version of Windows to date. It is true that it caused problems in the first few months, but it has been out for more than 2 years and it is quite stable now. If you don't have it, you also don't have any number of other security updates and you are almost certain to get infected.

7. I have an illegal copy of WinXP and MS won't let me update it. It isn't fair because they make so much money anyway.

If you are running an illegal copy of Windows, do the rest of us a favor - buy a legal copy. When you get infected, you can become a zombie server for the criminals, distributing malware, SPAM and scams all over the web. If all the zombie systems were shut down today, the quantity of SPAM would slow from a tidal wave to a trickle. Don't contribute to the flood. If you don't believe you can afford a legal copy of WinXP, use a free install of Linux. There is no good reason to put yourself and the rest of us at risk.

8. I have never used security programs and I have never been infected.

Maybe, maybe not. Some of the most effective infections today are essentially invisible on your computer. They don't slow it down in a noticeable way, they don't popup ads and they don't do anything to attract your attention. They do quietly send your personal information to the criminals, they do use your computer as a zombie server and they do own your computer more than you do. The truth is, malware is getting more aggressive, harder to detect, harder to kill and almost unavoidable if you go online at all. If you are not armored, you are probably already infected or you will be.

9. It is my computer and it is only my problem if I get infected, so leave me alone!

Well, not really. It is your computer and it is mainly your problem if you get infected. However, if your computer becomes a server that sprays malware, SPAM and attacks against the rest of us, it becomes our problem too. As soon as you go online, you are part of a community and the decisions you make effect everyone in that community. If you don't mind people messing around with your personal information and possibly using it to steal all that you have, please at least consider the harm you may be doing to the rest of us.

10. I plan to install security programs, I just haven't had time yet.

If you are reading this, you are already online. If you are online, you are already at risk. I once fixed a problem with my firewall and had it uninstalled for a while. I went online for about 10 minutes to download a fresh copy and while I was online, my system was infected with the Welchia worm. TEN minutes I was online, only 10 minutes!! How long have you been running without security??

Copied/pasted with permission - Credit goes to Budfred (SWI Admin) - original article. For more similar articles/news/tips, subscribe to the SWI Newsletter.

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