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Is My PC Vulnerable on the Internet?
by: David Marc Fishman
Think about this: Is a simple antivirus application enough to protect your PC against all threats?

No longer are viruses the only threat on the internet. In recent years other threats have evolved which include spyware, adware, hacking, identity theft, information theft, pop-ups and the loss of information.

Letís begin with the basics. We all need to protect our PC in the same way we protect our home, car and bank account. We wouldnít give a stranger the keys to our car, home or bank account now would we. If you donít protect your PC it is like giving the keys to a stranger and letting him/her have full access to your PC. Once the stranger has the keys they can snoop around and take whatever they want. I know, your thinking how can they do this, my computer is in my house and my doors are locked. Well, today you can be anywhere in the world and access someoneís computer via the internet. Since the introduction of cable modems and DSL everyoneís PC is online all the time and accessible.

Why do I need to protect my PC, I donít keep any important information on it? Ask yourself a couple of questions.

1. Do I bank online?
2. Do I shop online?
3. Do I create documents, spreadsheets?
4. Do I let other people use my PC?
5. Do I download music, files onto my PC?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then your PC is vulnerable. If you bank online then you are sending personal confidential information to your bank via the Internet. For Example: Letís say you are infected with spyware and you are typing in your account number plus password. A spyware installation can record key strokes and then send them off to a site on the internet. Now the person who setup the site has your account number and password to your bank. Here is one more example, if you answered yes to I let other people use my pc, here is what happens. The other person decides that they like this new cool piece of software. They download and double click on the exe, msi or whatever installs the software. The adware, spyware or virus installs. Now the infection is installed and now it can start stealing confidential information or cause havoc on your PC. You get onto the PC as always, since you donít know this has happened and start doing what you always do, type documents, go to chat rooms, do your banking online, reconcile your banking with quicken and all this time your confidential information is stolen and you are completely unaware that this occurred.

The million dollar question, what do I do? Well, you can follow this approach.
1. Install a Spyware application and install and configure correctly. If you already have spyware application installed make sure it is up to date and make sure that is configured properly.
2. Install an Adware application and install and configure properly. If you already have adware application installed make sure it is up to date and make sure that is configured properly.
3. Install an AntiVirus application and install and configure properly. If you already have antivirus application installed make sure it is up to date and make sure that is configured properly.
4. Install backup software, why because if something does get through your defenses or delete something by accident you always have a way of retrieving the information. You should try to backup your system at least every other day.
5. Install Encryption software. This software will encrypt files like word docs, spreadsheets, banking file on quicken. This way if someone does steal your information they will not be able to read it.
6. Install a Firewall. The Firewall can either be software or hardware based. I would install both especially if you bring your laptop with you and connect to the internet at different locations. The Firewall will block hackers trying to scan your system while you are on the Internet.

Many people have these applications installed but they do not configure them correctly. Just installing the application does not mean that the application is working properly to stop the threat/infection. On some applications you need to configure the setting to make the application work the way it was designed to. Find out how to configure and install the software properly either by reading a how to book or getting someone to help. If you already have the application installed make sure it is up to date and make sure that is configured properly. All of the software needs to be up to date and kept current. As new threats are release on the internet, all applications will need the current updates to fight these threats.

If you would like to find out if youíre PC is protected you can take the test. This will not harm your PC it just checks for vulnerabilities and lets you know if you passed or failed. The application is a single exe and DOES NOT NEED TO BE INSTALLED. All you need to do is run the test application and follow the instructions.

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About the author:
David Fishman has been working in the computer industry for 15 years for major corporations protecting computer systems from outside threats.

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