The Ten Commandments of PC Security
Fortunately, archeologists have recently unearthed two stone tablets from a garage near Cupertino, California that can help deliver us from such evils. We present their guidelines here, along with interpretations from our brothers and sisters in the PC security choir.
It's not enough to have the software installed (if you don't have an antivirus package, stop reading right now and get one); you also need to keep up with new viruses as they emerge. "Your antivirus software is only as good as your latest virus definitions set," says Kelly Martin, senior product manager for Symantec's Norton AntiVirus. Programs like Symantec's Norton AntiVirus ($50) and Network Associates' McAfee VirusScan ($35 to $60) can automatically update their virus signature databases, but it costs an additional $20 to $35 for ongoing annual subscriptions.
II. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's attachments.
You get a message you think is from a friend with what looks like a cool file attached, so you click on it. Next thing you know, you're Typhoid Mary, spewing out infected e-mails to everyone in your address book. That's how the Sobig.F worm spread--and it happened so quickly that millions of copies got out before the antivirus companies could update their databases.
"Never trust an e-mail 'from' address," adds Chris Wysopal, director of research for security consultants @Stake. "And never open an attachment without verifying it was sent by a trusted person, and they meant to send it to you."
III. Avoideth bogus file downloads.
Be wary of any Web site that requires you to download software to view a page, unless it's something familiar like a Flash plug-in or Acrobat Reader. The file may contain a virus, a Trojan horse, or some auto-dialer that calls pay-per-minute numbers via your modem and racks up huge charges. "Do not install software via the Web unless you are absolutely sure what it is and that you trust the company you are downloading it from," warns @Stake's Wysopal.
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