A Fool and His Identity are Soon Parted

foolI am a moderator in a chat room that has around 250+ active users at all times – day or night. The chat mostly centers around technology, social media, and anything that could be considered to be “Geeky”. Several times a day – EVERY day – the talk turns to computer security. And always, some dolt makes a claim of how smart they are on the Internet… how they don’t need protection… how they couldn’t possibly become infected.

I’ve been around the security field for about seven years now. I’ve been recognized by Microsoft for the past few years as an MVP in Security. I’ve spent thousands of hours over the years (on this site and others) helping people remove malware from their computers. I am by no means the best… and I know far from everything. However, I do know a thing or three.

One thing I know beyond a shadow of a doubt is that you are NOT protected if you use no security protection programs, thinking you’re safe if you “browse smart”. Guess what? You’re not safe. I don’t care if you don’t download illegal files. I don’t care if you don’t open email attachments, or click on links in instant messages. The fact of the matter is that you are still vulnerable. There are websites that are seemingly innocent and harmless that will install a drive-by infection on your machine faster than you can blink. You’ll never know it’s there. Some of them don’t even show any “symptoms”, so you don’t have a clue there’s a problem. It will just sit quietly gathering your information, and doing whatever it wants with it.

There are so many excellent pieces of software out there that can protect you… many of them for free. It’s insane not to have these installed on your machine. We all know the only way to be 100% safe is to stay offline. To come as close as possible to that 100%, you need a good software firewall, a hardware firewall if/when possible, an anti-virus program, and an anti-malware (or anti-spyware) program. Layers of protection is the key. You never want to install more than one A/V or software firewall. They can – and will – conflict with each other.

Look, I’m not trying to boss you around. I’m actually trying to help you. You honestly don’t realize until you’ve done the research just how many different types of malware there are out there that you will never even know you have. Stop thinking you’re invincible. I’m here to tell you… you’re not.