Craig Murphy has posted a great article highlighting the general lack of concern home PC users have over security under the title â€œPC security is not the first thing on the mind of a home userâ€?.
He is absolutely right, PC’s are sold, and most people buy them in the same way as they buy anything else like a TV, a kettle or even a car. They expect the PC to sit there, allow them to read their e-mail, write a few letters and just work, in the same way that they expect that their kettle won’t suddenly burst into flames. Essentially with all of them they are bought to just work. The description of what happens is spot on too – the free security software never gets extended, and people put up with a lot – I know of people who quite happily clicked through about 20 porn filled pop-up windows to get to a browser window to do their online banking, without even considering what else could be on the machine onto which they are typing all their important financial details. I’ve also known a number of people who maintain that they don’t need anti-virus or security software because they don’t view dodgy sites, and don’t open attachments from unknown sources – all of them have ultimately found out to their cost that their are nasties on the Internet now that will transfer onto a PC without any intervention at all from the user, and generally ended up having to spend a lot of time and/or money getting their machines sorted out.
In fact, in general I tend to find that many people don’t start taking PC security seriously until they have had a problem like this. However, it’s not too difficult to protect yourself. Craig has some good advice and recommendations for both paid for, and free alternatives for the various essential bits of software that you need before you let your PC near the Internet. I also strongly back up his advice to go get a proper router instead of using a USB based ADSL connection. The added protection by having this extra layer between you and the internet makes a big difference.
Of course, the one suggestion I would make that Craig wouldn’t, is to consider whether you really need a PC at all. Want to read some e-mail, browse the web, do your online banking and write a few letters? You do all of those on a Mac – I do – our PC gets used for games mainly, everything else is on the Mac. Go along to somewhere with knowledgeable staff, like John Lewis or even better one of the six Apple Stores around the country to see one in action. If you can’t get one of those, get hold of a Mac magazine such as Mac Format or MacWorld – you’re even going to be able to pick up a Mac from Tesco now! Of course, I’d still recommend getting hold of a virus checker, and following Craig’s good practice, even with a Mac, but currently it’s a much safer platform to work with, and certainly not buried under nearly so much of the spyware and viruses that attack PC’s.