Internet Safety and Privacy Concerns…are you protected?

Over my tenure as a “computer guy” I’ve been asked to “fix” a computer countless times.  I remember it started out as “my computer won’t print” or “the screen went blank”, but lately I’ve heard a different phrase… “the internet is down!”  While this may be true, it is also proving to be safer.  Recently I’ve helped family, friends, clients, etc. to get rid of Antivirus spoofs, or fake programs that look legitimate, but in reality are a virus, a phishing scam, or worse!

It starts with an unknown website or email attachment (I even saw one come in from an internet ad!) which puts the virus on your computer.  From there, it quietly works its way into the computer disabling the “easy way” for me to fix it, then finally pops up a window saying “You are infected!”  The popup looks like a windows program and most of the time doesn’t have a brand name so it just says “Antivirus 2009” etc.  If I’m lucky, I get a call when they see this screen.  Most of the time, I’m not that lucky…

Should you let it scan your computer, it starts listing important files as infected and says that you can pay some amount to buy the program and it will clean the viruses for you.  At which point they ask you for a credit card number, and then you are toast!  It was all a ploy to steal your credit card & identity to do who knows what with them!

Granted there are fixes, patches, and repair tools to these problems.  However, these attacks are better off being prevented than treated, and all it takes is an antivirus and/or antispyware program, some are even FREE.

So why hasn’t every computer user without antivirus downloaded the free antivirus tool?  Because the average user doesn’t think that they will get a virus, which is the same as the average biker not wearing a helmet because they don’t think they’ll crash.

We are not as safe on the internet as we think we are!

Case in Point: AT&T had a glitch the other day where a customer was on their phone going to Facebook to login, and they were automatically logged in…TO SOMEONE ELSE’S ACCOUNT!  Apparently, the servers were confused on who was who, and it sent the wrong information to the wrong phone.  I don’t think anyone is to blame, but this just proves that what you think is safe isn’t really safe.  (Read the AP story here.)

What you think is private isn’t really private.  You can put the pictures of you partying on MySpace, but just remember that a court order will put those pictures in the hands of the prosecutor.  If you don’t believe me, read here.

Now an antivirus/antispyware program won’t prevent the outcomes of the past two points, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t protect your computer.  Without these programs, anyone could take over your phone and make calls or hack into your personal computer and download your pictures.  If you buy a brand new 65″ Plasma TV, you’d get the protection plan.  Even if it’s free, you’d still want it.  So protect your computer!

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