Originally published in The Clarion | May 02, 2012
As the old saying goes, most things in life aren’t easy. This almost always applies to computing. Whether you’re an IT professional or a basic home user, computing can become difficult at any given moment. Unfortunately, in our always-connected environment, failure to take preventative measures in keeping our PC’s and other connected devices updated and clean can result in any number of problems. While operating systems and software have drastically improved over the years, the simple fact that we have so many connected devices opens the door for all sorts of undesirable bugs in our systems.
In just the last week I have witnessed first-hand what a compromised device (in both cases they were smartphones) can do to a PC and network. The ramifications of connecting these compromised devices to outside systems were not pretty, fortunately neither wreaked too much havoc. Every home user should routinely take action to ensure their computing device is as secured as possible. This includes installing all available software updates, maintaining a functional anti-virus solution and ensuring they have some sort of firewall device or application that helps keep their devices safe from those who get kicks out of causing trouble.
One of the leading sources of computer bugs today is social media sites. These, combined with eMail hoaxes, can lead to all sorts of issues as quickly as you can click your mouse. I’ve said it countless times – if it seems too good to be true or if it seems to be from an unreliable source, it most likely is. The most basic rule of thumb in computing can go a very long way. When in doubt, simply don’t do it. If you do fall victim to a computer bug, there is a free software application that can often do the trick in cleaning things up. The application is called Spybot Search & Destroy. I have used this application countless times over the years to compliment anti-virus software and it has worked wonders. Many of the annoying computing bugs aren’t necessarily categorized as computer viruses. Because of this, most anti-virus software applications simply don’t recognize and protect against them. These bugs fall into a category known as spyware or malware. The malicious software embeds itself into your machine and, often without you even knowing it’s there, does all sorts of undesirable things.
The nature of spyware is an ugly one. When a machine is infected by one piece of spyware it’s almost guaranteed more will follow. Applications like Spybot Search & Destroy scan your entire hard disk looking for traces of such malware. Once Spybot has finished its scan, it can usually clean up the mess leaving your machine in a much better situation. Just like any software though, Spybot needs to be updated frequently and run on a regular schedule. The best preventative software in the world does no good if it’s not updated and executed regularly.