The question isn’t whether the virus-writers, phishers, spam merchants and other online nuisances are targeting your PC, money and privacy. The question is how successful will they be.
Your computer and data could be vulnerable from the moment you hit the on button. Threats multiply when you go online. While there’s no sure way to make your system safe, there’s plenty you can do to minimise risks.
The risks are real. At the less worrying end of the spectrum, neighbours might hop on your wireless router and surf the web on your ISP account or pranksters may load your PC with troublesome viruses.
There are people, including some seemingly respectable companies, who want to spy on your online activities.
More seriously, crooks want to control your computer so they can suck money from your bank accounts.
Others want to hijack your machine so they carry out their crimes or even terrorist acts at arm’s length leaving a trail that investigators may track to your front door.
It sounds scary, but a whole industry has evolved to help keep you safe. These days you need a variety of tools to fight a complex range of security threats (see the next post: Computer security: what are the main threats).
You should consider antivirus, a firewall and anti-spyware tools.
This may sound complicated and expensive, but all-in-one security suites make life easier and help you sleep at night. There are free security suites, some are as good as paid for versions. However, if you pay, you’ll get support.
Suites are particularly helpful if you’re not a security expert because the separate tools in security suites should interact smoothly with each other and offer overlapping protection from today’s nastiest threats which can use a blend of techniques to probe your defences.