More and more seniors are jumping into the Internet. Some are moving to countries like Panama to “Enjoy Paradise”, and need a cheap way to stay in contact with family back home. Some are introduced to FaceBook by their grand children. Some have heard that they can sell their junk on eBay and get more money than at a garage sale.
There is no question that in today’s world, the Internet has become a necessary part of life.
Unfortunately the vast majority of newcomers are not equipped with the knowledge of the traitorous waters they are entering into to protect themselves.
Maybe it is time for another warning that most will skip over without reading.
I do not care if you are a Microsoft Windows advocate, an Apple fan or a Linux maverick. None of the systems are absolutely safe. All have worked hard to make their systems safer, but there will never be a completely safe system as long as humans are using them.
I happened to stumble onto this article and it brought to light a new set of flaws I had not considered. I think most people that use AntiVirus programs never think about the vulnerabilities of those systems.
While they are vulnerable, and after reading the article, possibly more vulnerable to some threats, I still consider them a necessary evil.
The Largest Vulnerability to PC Safety
The first thing all users should realize is that users are the largest vulnerability for any PC. Operating systems can be designed to protect against most external problems, but none have been designed well enough to protect against stupidity or naivety of users.
Surfing the net is not safe if you do not use common sense. If you go to a new site and immediately get a notification (popup) that your system may fe infected, do you want to do a system scan – DO NOT PRESS OK!
If you get an email from Yahoo that your account is suspected of being hacked and wants you to provide your password, don’t give it. Banks, Legitimate companies, etc., do not request private information via email. Most browsers will now show you the destination URL if you hover the cursor over the link. It may say YAHOO MAIL in the text, but the actual address might be a phishing website. This is just one of many phishing schemes.
One of the most vulnerable ports in a PC is the USB port. If a friend gives you a USB drive with a document they want you to print, do not open any document on that USB before you scan the USB drive. The way many Cyber Cafes in Panama get infected is by students bringing documents to be printed.
Many new users are happy to find out about sites on the Internet where you can download first run movies and watch them on your PC for free. These P2P sites are notorious for having virus infected data files. There is no free lunch.
Now let me look at the main Operating Systems. It is my recommendation on all of the following systems, that you run an AntiVirus (AV).
Obviously, the Microsoft OS is the most vulnerable system. That is not because of its design, but because it has the highest number of users and is therefore a bigger target. I will say that vendors of MS systems do have one practice that increases the likelihood of getting a virus.
Many MS vendors package a large amount of bloatware with their systems. They get paid by these companies to put trial versions of their software in the hopes that the buyer will purchase it following the trial. A lot of this bloatware is just junk. There have been several cases where prominent manufactures have sent out machines with viruses already in their system.
I made a practice of removing all bloatware from any new PC prior to using it. If I didn’t research the application and really want it, I don’t trust having it on my system.
Most PCs come with a trial version of an AntiVirus It will usually run for 3 months and then require purchasing to continuing to get updates. I think some of the the paid for AVs may have a few advantages of some of the free AVs, but I stick with the free AVs.
On Microsoft Systems, I have used Microsoft Security Essentials and AVAST and never had an infected system.
Linux software supports the largest share of servers on the Internet today. If used correctly, it is a very stable system and a reasonably secure system. Even thought it is highly used to support the Internet, it has a very low utilization on the desktop.
Google’s Chrome OS is also based on the Linux kernel. It is aimed at Google supported devices i.e. Chrome Books. Android (another Google Linux variant) has the largest amount of malware of any phone system. I think Chrome Books are OK for what they are designed for, but they need to be connected to the Internet. I could not use them because I operate offline many times.
I quit using Linux because I got tired of having to fiddle with the system. It is stable and as secure as any other system, but it does require more technical knowledge than the average user has.
Apple OSX and IOS systems
Apple has made large gains in recent years. It has taken a different approach from Microsoft and has one OS for mobile systems and one for desktop systems. Currently this is my system of choice. I like the way that Apple is integrating all pieces of their hardware and systems. I have been using the desktop systems since Tiger and am running the Yosemite Beta. I have found each system release since Tiger to be a step forward.
I have always used AVAST as my anti virus on OS X systems.
In closing, no post related to Internet security can avoid talking about passwords. I have written about that subject many times before and rather than rehashing it again, I will just point you to my last discussion.
The Internet is a necessary evil especially for those of us that are living in a foreign country and away from our family. Hopefully if you are aware of the dangers you will tread more carefully.