Is Your Computer Up to Date?

The past month I remembered some seasonal home maintenance—replacing furnace filters, installing snow tires, and cleaning gutters. But I neglected to update the anti-spyware definitions on the computer my wife and I share. Mistake.

One morning I turned on the computer to check our email and found an official-looking notice from “Vista Home Security 2012” that our computer had been infected. The pop-up assured me there was a simple solution. I just had to click yes to a few boxes and our computer would again be secure.

Bogus. I’m no techie, but I know that neither my wife nor I had installed such a program.

On the advice of our son—a professional programmer—we rely on two programs: “Avast” against viruses and “SUPERAntiSpyware” for further protection. The downside of that anti-spyware program is that I must update the definitions regularly and then have it scan our computer.

I’d neglected that for a few weeks. Fortunately I recognized the alert was a trap, trying to lure me to “register” the program—and set me up for identity theft.

The solution was relatively simple. I restarted the computer in “safe” mode, ran a full system scan with the anti-virus software, updated the anti-spyware definitions, then ran the anti-spyware program—twice.

Since then, no problem. But I did add an important upgrade: a tiny sticky note on the bottom of my monitor on which I jotted “spyware update” and the date.

Andy Scheer, editor-in-chief for the Christian Writers Guild, also serves as a freelance book editor and an agent with Hartline Literary. Before joining the CWG staff he served for twelve years as managing editor for Moody magazine.

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