Unprotected PCs – The bane of the Internet

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Unsecured and unprotected personal computers by users who have not got anti-virus and other protection software installed and kept updated are a menace to the rest of us on the Web, and I do not use the word “menace” lightly.

It is the likes of those computers, to a very great degree, if not in the main, that are being used as part of bots nets to transmit all the spam traffic and also to spread viruses and other malware that is, primarily, email-borne.

How many times do I hear when someone comes to me with a PC that has caught the sniffles upon my question as to anti-virus protection that they don't have any or someone may come and say 'but I have got this or that anti-virus program,' often one of the big ones, 'on my PC and still it got a virus (or hundreds) and when I then enquire as to when it was last updated I get this blank expression. 'Updated?', is the invariable question. 'What do you mean with updated?' and I then find that they in fact believe that the program that is installed will do it for ever and a day without them having to do a thing. No one seems to have told them when they got a PC.

OK, one could ask on which planet those users have been as it is often enough even in the “ordinary” media about needing all those bits of protection software and the need to keep it all updated regularly, ideally on a daily basis. Checking for updates should be done, in my opinion, at least once a day, or more often even, when one is online. Signatures change so quickly that, especially when it is “virus season”, sometimes the companies release more than one update in a day in the space of a couple of hours. It is, therefore, always good advice to check, maybe, every time that one logs on if one has not been on for a few hours and has checked in between times.

Those that use the Internet for work and, say, work from home, should use an opportunity every couple of hours, when they think about stretching their legs and other parts of the body (no, I am not trying to be rude, so put that dirty mind away). Often it is but a little right-click on an icon in the system tray that allows one to check as to whether there are updates available and then the programs will normally do the work of downloading and installing any available updates all on their very own. Given us a time to go and have a coffee (or tea, if you so desire – mine is tea, white, one sugar – thanks).

There are some servers, as far as I am aware, that will not allow someone to send emails if their PC transmits attached viruses unbeknown to the user even. This, in my view, is a good way of protecting the Web. They also return emails with an attached notification that an email was detected in the email one tried to send.

I have once, many years now, been in that position myself when, unbeknown to me, a virus had been sent to me and the system was transmitting it to all contacts in my address book. In those days I had a, what I thought to have been updated, anti-virus program of a large well-known company, but alas, although it was completely updated on a daily basis it had failed. That was the days before I used to use a software firewall which would have prevented the transmission of the outgoing virus. I also changed the anti-virus software after to the FREE version of AVG and have been using AVG ever since without any problems and while other people I know and work with who were using software from the two of the biggest anti-virus software companies had viruses get through AVG caught the same version each and every time.

There are other very good systems available for FREE, aside from AVG, such as Panda, Avast, and others that no personal user has any excuse not to have his or her PC secured against viruses, Trojans, malware, adware, and other.

Remember folks: If you PC is unprotected not only do you risk your own PC and the data on it, you also enable malicious hackers to use your PC as a transmitter, often entirely unbeknown to you, of spam, viruses and other malware. If and when the law hits out against someone then, if and when they manage to trace the whereabouts of the computer from where a virus or such was sent it could be you who then is the one who could end up on the wrong side of the law, without you having done anything yourself actually.

Aside from that, any unsecured PC is a potential menace to other Internet users. Secure your PC.

© M Smith (Veshengro), April 2008