Malware (a.k.a. the Common Cold)


by Steve Deal on April 2, 2012

Computers are great tools because they can run all kinds of programs.  But like humans, they can sometimes ‘catch a cold’ – acquire a program that you don’t want.   Unwanted programs are called malware (“malicious software”), and include viruses, trojans, adware, spyware, and lots more.

So what’s the doctor’s advice for keeping your PC healthy this winter?


Take your Vitamins (Antivirus Software)

Antivirus Software contains information about known malware, and blocks it before it can do damage.  Install one good Antivirus program and set it to update automatically.

  • Microsoft Security Essentials – Free for home use and small business (less than 10 users).   This is ‘baseline‘ Antivirus – it’s better than nothing, but no longer intended by Microsoft to compare to commercial offerings.
  • For businesses there are various good commercial alternatives – Symantec, Trend & Vipre.  Contact us for details (we can also add this to a home monitoring solution).

If you don’t have an antivirus program, your PC is already infected, guaranteed.


Get that old Coat fixed (Patching)

The programs on your PC (e.g., Word, Outlook, Photoshop) often have defects in them – it’s nearly impossible to write perfect code.   Malware takes advantage of these defects to infect your computer.   It’s like wearing a coat with holes in it – the wind whips right through.

Programs get patches just like coats, but you have to put them on your computer.   There are two kinds of patching you have to do.

  • Microsoft Update – This updates your base operating system (e.g., Windows 7 or Windows XP) and some Microsoft programs (e.g., Word or Outlook).
  • Everything Else – Then go patch all the ‘other’ applications – Firefox, QuickTime, iTunes, Acrobat, Flash, Java, Skype…etc.  Some of the programs have automatic updates, and others you just have to do yourself.  Our  Platinum Security Service will patch the most common applications for you.


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