The World Wide Web is evil?

Well, no, not exactly. The Web is a great tool and resource that a lot of people find incredibly useful. There are ways to access information once only available within libraries ( There are resources to investigate and log your genealogy (  Heck, you can even find video lectures from colleges that cost thousands of dollars to attend (

 Unfortunately, there are also a lot of bad guys who know that millions of people use the Internet to access the Web, and not everyone is as careful as they should be when accessing this wealth of knowledge. These same persons spend quite a bit of time and energy doing very little but trying to gain control of your computer and/or trying to get your personal information.

Why would people spend so much time and energy trying to break into your computer? The simplest answer is money. Even if you don’t do shopping or banking on the Web, will they bother with you? Absolutely. These hooligans might not get anything directly from your computer, but if they control it then they can use it together with others to attack a bank server or to send out spam (junk email) to people who will give up money in some way.

These infected computers are collectively called botnets, and vary in size. Here are some estimates of a few different ones and what they do: . Scared yet? You should be, but just in case you’re not, here’s something else to look at: .

This information is not meant to cause mass hysteria, only to let you know that there are bad guys in the world who do nothing but work all day everyday to do these bad things. Every time you connect to the Internet you are taking a chance on becoming their next victim. The good news is that you can reduce your risk.

Everyone who is fairly responsible should be running antivirus and firewall software on their computer, If you’re not, go download one of the free versions such as AVG or ZoneAlarm. Be aware they also offer pay versions, so be sure you download the FREE one and not the trial unless you want to pay for it, which is fine. The next step would be to have a spyware prevention/removal program installed as well. Spybot S&D is my personal favorite, but some people prefer AdAware. Either one is great, and both have free versions available for download.

I would also suggest having a router between your PC and the Internet. You do not have to use a wireless router, especially if you don’t need it. However, most routers have a built-in hardware firewall to help protect you. Plus, the router will spread your connection into another ‘subnetwork’ that the bad guys will have to get through to get access to your PC. It’s not foolproof, but will help.

If you don’t have broadband and need antivirus or firewall software, drop me an email. I will make a CD available for you so that you can have protection. We all need to be good netizens and keep ourselves safe from the criminals.