Anybody who spends as much time online as I do researching my books, promoting them on various blogs and websites, gabbing with my author friends on social media, and helping moderate four different Facebook groups is bound to get hit up with some kind of attempted virus attack.
This is in addition to all the emails I get from bored housewives and horny college coeds who want me. Not to mention that nice man in Nigeria, and his cousin in Kuwait who both want to send me millions of dollars.
I use three different programs to protect my computer, all recommended by my buddy Greg White. And while they all have paid versions, the free versions seem to work very well for me. One is AVG Virus Protection, another is Super AntiSpyware, and the third is Malwarebytes. Thanks to them I’ve never been hit with a virus or anything like that. But that doesn’t mean the people putting that kind of stuff out don’t try.
Just the other day I got an email from the production manager at the newspaper that used to print the Gypsy Journal before we went all digital. The headline said “Invoice Attached” which let me know right away that something was bogus, because we always paid our printing bill as soon as we got it, and it’s been over a year since we printed an issue. So I didn’t open it, and instead sent her an email asking what it was about. Sure enough, the next morning I got a reply from her telling me that their email had been hacked and not to open any attachments that came with anything from them.
And occasionally, looking at what might seem to be innocent websites can come back and bite you in the butt. Jim is a fantastic guitar player and he is partial to old Western music. On Tuesday he mentioned an old cowboy song that he would love to find the lyrics to, so I did a Google search, and sure enough I found a reference to it. But when I went to the website and tried to open a link to the song, AVG popped up with a warning message not to do so.
I’m not sure what happened from there, but yesterday I suddenly got a red flag on my screen telling me that my computer had been compromised and that I needed to click a link on that message or call a toll-free number so that their technicians could take care of it for me. It contained a dire warning not to ignore it or try to click out of the screen or I would lose all of my files. I immediately hit Control-Alt-Delete, which took me to my computer’s Task Manager, and I exited my Internet program from there. Then I ran all three of the above mentioned programs, after first making sure I had the latest updates. And sure enough, they found a malware program, which was isolated and then deleted.
You can’t be too careful when it comes to all this stuff, and if there is any doubt in your mind (and there always should be) when you get a message that doesn’t make sense or seems suspicious, don’t open it. Get offline and do a scan and find out what you’re dealing with. If you don’t, it could cost you a lot of time and effort, at the very least, and maybe even a lot of money to get rid of whatever is trying to infect your computer.
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Thought For The Day – Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in. – Andrew Jackson