Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Confessions of a(n) (In)Secure User

Ok. I'll admit it, I don't use anti-virus protection. Also, with the exception of a Microsoft Outlook infection that overtook our campus 7-8 years ago and that reached the address book on my pc, I've NEVER had a virus.

Is that smug? Probably, and now that I'm writing this post, I'm expecting a massive attack and crash. But you need to understand that I'm very careful and I've just been doing a couple of simple things and I've never had a problem. Besides, the folks at Wired agree with me:

The gospel is familiar: An antivirus program paired with anti-spyware/malware measures will shield your PC from just about anything. In fact, the marketing of those products is so good that security apps are about the only software people still expect to pay for. But the best stuff doesn't cost a dime. Programs like AVG and Ad-Aware are free, and they won't hit you up for upgrades like the big security suites.
Those guardians are fine for Grandma's Gateway, but the truly savvy eschew them altogether. Even the most well-meaning program bogs down your box. And it's not hard to dodge infection; just abide by the basic tenets of Internet common sense: Don't click on mysterious email attachments, don't bother with the free pr0n, Ch3@p Vi@gr@, and Nigerian millions, and never open .exe files. Email is still one of the biggest infection vectors, so be cautious and use a good webmail service like Gmail, which automatically scans your messages. Don't leave your computer online when you're not on it. Beware of anything that immediately asks for personal information. Don't reuse passwords.