FBI Nabs Three in Operation Bot Roast - Protecting Yourself with Updates
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It’s very important to remember that the fight between malicious hackers and antivirus writers is an arms race, with one side holding an advantage over the other for only so long. As soon as new software comes out that installs all kinds of malware on an innocent computer, the antivirus companies jump in there to try to recognize it and create patches that stop it. Once the bad guys hear about the patches, they immediately get to work finding ways to circumvent the system again. So if you’re virus-free and want to stay that way, you’re going to have to keep your system updated, just as you’d make sure your kids and pets got all their vaccinations and booster shots.
Let’s start with your operating system. Whether you run a variation of Windows, a Mac OS, or an open source operating system, it is very important that you get the updates that plug the system’s security holes. While Microsoft Windows is well-known for having security problems, it also has an automated system for patches; you can choose to turn it on, or visit the company’s web site to get patches. Regardless of your OS, you should make sure you keep your system up to date.
Likewise, you should keep your computer’s antivirus software up to date – for precisely the reasons explained in the first paragraph in this section. You can’t keep up with the arms race if your antivirus software isn’t receiving regular updates. As with some operating systems, you can set antivirus software from some companies to update automatically. Often, you can also set it to scan your system automatically, say at a set time and/or on a particular day of the week.
Not all antivirus software comes with antispyware capabilities, so it might be a good idea to have a separate antispyware program, and keep it up to date. While both viruses and spyware are forms of malicious code, they generally do slightly different things. Spyware is specifically designed to monitor what you do; it might collect information about you without your knowledge or consent, or throw annoying pop-ups at you in response to your web surfing habits. Depending on your operating system, you may already have free spyware protection installed on your computer, or you can pick some up at a computer store or online. Don’t get antispyware software from a site you don’t know, and be wary of online ads – some of the “spyware solutions” are in fact spyware themselves.
Judging from past experience, it will be quite some time, if ever, before we get a handle on the spam problem. But law enforcement is starting to make a little headway at last. Ultimately, however, keeping your computer safe rests in your hands.
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