Cookies of the Plate and Computer

The Holidays are fast approaching. Christmas lights are up. The sounds of bell ringers and Christmas Carols have replaced the usual soundtrack of my life. There is a nip in the air and smells that remind me of my childhood. Ahh. . . cookies. Nothing says holidays like cookies. Although with the kids out of school for a long break and the wife shopping online, my techy thoughts shift from a plate full of cookies to a computer full. Rather than flu vaccines, I think of virus protection.

Around the holidays, the internet traffic increases. If you, or a family member, are doing holiday shopping online, surfing the internet or downloading a “free” game, remember that nothing is “free”. In many game downloads, a piece of spyware or tracking software can get in and see what sites you are visiting and then send targeted advertising your way. Beware of what sites your kids are visiting. Although they may seem perfectly harmless, Internet sites, emails and social networking sites can contain gateways to viruses.

There are many different types of computer viruses. Some of the most common types are Trojan horse, worms, and email viruses.

The Trojan virus doesn’t want you to know that it is there. It hides well and acts like a spy. It simply wants to collect information. It gives intruders access to your files, documents and personal information. This virus can go easily undetected and before you know it your identity and credit cards have been compromised.

Do you Facebook? Chances are that you have received an email from a friend (that doesn’t normally send you video links) who has tagged you in a video. Be careful, a worm is a virus that multiplies itself. They spread using email and security flaws both on networks and individual computers. Worms can also compromise personal and corporate data. They are not limited to social networking sites. It can email itself to all your friends from your computer without you even knowing.

If you are tempted to open pictures with the red X, remember that the email virus is one of the easiest ways to be compromised and spread. Email viruses spread by users opening attachments and pictures with an embedded code. Cute holiday games such as Elf Bowling can be used to make the user want to click.

There are several ways you can protect yourself and your computers from such viruses:

  • Make sure your computers are up to date with all of the security patches and service packs (stop hitting “ignore” or “later”. They are there for a reason. Make the time)
  • Your antivirus software also needs to be current and up to date
  • Clean out your browser cache either daily or weekly (IE8, Google Chrome, and Mozilla each have tools to clean out the browser cache)
  • Get a firewall (I recommend hardware based because many of the firewalls have filtering for viruses and malware. This gives you an added layer of protection and it does not hurt the performance of your computers)

If you read the protection options above and still think that a patch is something that you put on old jeans and a service pack is a military accessory, a computer professional might be your best option. IT professionals can save your valuable time and make all necessary updates and upgrades (quick and painless to you) at a reasonable rate.

If you are the do it yourself type and are diligent with these options, you will greatly reduce your chances of being compromised or getting a virus. Don’t forget to protect each computer in the house.

Warning Signs: Is your computer is running slow or locking up? Are you blasted with pop-ups? Being redirected? Constantly running scans? These are just a few indications that you might already be infected. Call a professional IT Consultant for help. A word to the wise, if you ignore the signs, they don’t go away. They get worse.

For a free consultation call 318-402-8842 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) Paul dePingre’ is the owner of Computer Medic, servicing Shreveport and Bossier City. He is a certified Microsoft (MCSE) and Cisco (CCNA) professional with Federal background check clearance. Paul also holds an all access Texas Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (TLETS) clearance. With over 10 years in IT Management, Paul has a very broad working knowledge of the ever changing field of IT. His background includes Manufacturing, Healthcare and City IT Management.