Man vs. Wild

There’s a show out there where a guy gets dropped off in the middle of nowhere and has to survive with what he’s got in his pockets and what he can find.  It’s an amazing show and something that most of us probably never need to know, but the premise is great.  But in my life, man vs. wild comes into play on a different level every day.  What I’m talking about is the wild of the Internet.

With the advance of technology and interactive programming on the internet, websites are a lot more wild than they used to be.  Not only that, but it leaves us prone to more and more malicious attacks every day.  The people that want to compromise your PC are using simple tactics on websites to do so.  Viruses still exist ‘in the wild’ but most of the problems are now coming from websites that have either been put up specifically to attract people or websites that have been compromised themselves.  In either case, ‘surfing the net’ isn’t nearly as safe as it once was, especially when even some of the biggest and most visited sites can be ‘hacked’.

To keep yourself as safe as possible, there are many things that can be done.  The most important is to keep your system up to date with the latest patches.  Usually, websites use faulty technology in browsers to manipulate local files.  The next is making sure you have a firewall , anti-malware and anti-virus installed.  There are also new products out there that actually scan web links before you get there, checking for malicious code beforehand.  Check out AVG’s link checker for an example.  The reason all of this came up is that Microsoft has put out a new anti-virus/anti-malware software suite called Microsoft Essentials, and it’s all over the tech news.  Most of us were skeptical at first, after all, this is a company that’s been well known to have multiple problems with their browsers and OSs, how could they possibly make something to protect that?  Well, according to AV-test, a well respected testing company, MS Essentials scores very high on keeping you safe.  It caught all the viruses and malware that were thrown at it as well as having returned no false positives, which is something that we techies know is annoying.  So overall, it seems pretty impressive.  I didn’t jump on the bandwagon fast enough so I didn’t get a beta download (it was limited to 75,000) but I’ll definitely be taking a look when they open it up further.