How Do I Protect Myself from this Modern Epidemic of Spyware/Malware?
Answer: Avoiding and destroying spyware is not instant, and it is not a one-time event like an inoculation. Instead, stopping spyware/malware is a long-term game that is exactly like cleaning dirt out of your home. You need constant vigilance, and a regular habit of cleaning malware out of your computer every week.
Note: Additionally, as an educated user, you must also adopt a "buyer beware" attitude whenever you install new software from the Net or even from CD...you need to read every end user license agreement on your screen before you click "accept".
Here is the checklist for detecting and destroying malware
- Install two or three different anti-spyware programs ("spyware cleaners") on your computer, and update their definition lists regularly. Because every anti-spyware cleaner is imperfect, it is necessary to use combinations of these programs to catch the greatest breadth of malware. Also, the anti-spyware manufacturers regularly add new entries to their "definition" lists, just like anti-virus software. Make sure to keep your spyware cleaners updated with these lists!
Click here for 5 recommended anti-spyware programs.
- Build a weekly habit of "scan and detect". Like cleaning house, this should be done every few days. At the very least, this should be done whenever you install new software. Many anti-spyware programs can be set to automatically perform scan-and-detect nightly.
- Carefully read every EULA (end user license agreement) before clicking "accept". If you see the phrase "3rd-party software may be installed", make sure to follow the software install with a spyware cleaning.
Educate yourself on the latest strains of malware. In particular, start visiting these recommended anti-spyware sites, and update yourself on the latest malicious programs.
- Save your data, and backup often! As much as it sounds like broken-record preaching, backing-up is how an intelligent user prepares for the worst. Backing up means: keep your original software CDs in a safe accessible place, constantly save copies of your important work files on CD or separate drives, and presume you will actually need them one day. This way, if you ever experience the extreme spyware circumstance of having to reformat your hard drive, you can at least recover your important work.
There you go, fellow Internet users. Your lives now have an extra complexity as you add one more cleaning habit to your weekly routine. The good news is: once you build a regular scan-and-detect habit, then spyware and malware will be reduced to a mere annoyance, and you can get back to business of enjoying the Internet! Personally, I think of it as having one more room in my house to dust and vacuum.
Keep the faith, fellow webbies... the Internet is too important to let these malware programmers win!
More: Some Related Spyware/Malware Resources For You:
Here is some follow-up information for further reading: