Don’t search – it’s dangerous!

This is an older article which originally appeared in the Register-News.

Of course I’m using sarcasm. Search is one of the best tools there is for finding information you need on the web. Search is used to the point that Google is now recognized formally as a verb, as in to google something.

Unfortunately, the mainstream news is using the slight increase in ‘drive-by’ infections to create hype and scare people. Drive-by infections are when you search for a photo, news, etc. and then become infected with malware (virus, etc.) just by visiting the site. By now I would hope you know that viruses can be hidden in web pages, photos, screensavers, Word documents, and pretty much anything else you use on a PC.

So, use common sense along with antivirus/firewall, and don’t go to questionable sites searching for questionable material. Check with reputable sites you know for news or gossip about your favorite stars or topics. They do get infections as well, but VERY rarely. Mainstream sites pay a lot of money to keep themselves secure, and usually it works out well for them.

As a warning, a Windows computer connected to the Internet is infected within 4 minutes on average. This is from a source I trust that has done much research into the matter. Also, a friend recently purchased a new PC from a chain. He did not listen to my advice and install antivirus/firewall right away. One day later, he called me with a problem, and the end result was that he was infected. Within one day.

I jokingly tell people that if they knew how evil the Internet is that they wouldn’t connect. Unfortunately, that is the reality. Without antivirus/firewall, you are like my buddy who didn’t protect himself – open and ripe for attack. Whether it really is four minutes or one day, wouldn’t you rather keep your PC controlled by you instead of a virus?

So, while the mainstream is saying that ‘search’ is the latest evil predator of the Internet, it is the same threat that has always been there. The same advice still applies – antivirus/firewall, antivirus/firewall, antivirus/firewall…  Get the point?

In addition, stay away from questionable sites and questionable material. If you need to find something and don’t know where to look or whom to trust, send me an email. I’ll answer as best I can to help you, that’s kind of why I do this column.

Recently, I have found a new antivirus/firewall that comes in one neat package, is free for home use, and has been tested by some friends for awhile now – Comodo (http://comodo.com). If you are looking for change or needing something, go check them out and download the FREE version. There is also a pay version, but you probably don’t need it.

As always, email with thoughts, concerns, questions, and fan mail to askageek@register-news.com .

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