(All quoted information is from Wikipedia) Hello computer world, this is Constantine logging in from the eastern seaboard here with a special guest edition of dDave's GF Tech Lessons. Today, we'll be talking about something I believe more and more people are confronted with but have no idea how to handle: malware. Your three main concerns are: Adware is advertising software that floods your computer with ads and pop ups. It can significantly slow and harm your computer. It is the most common malware you'll encounter. Spyware tracks your computer usage and attempts to hijack or steal information. It allows the spyware's master to see what you're searching, what you're typing, or what you have on your computer. Some advertisers use these programs to better advertise to customers. Viruses range from annoying to downright devastating. They've caused millions of dollars of damage in the past to entire networks. Viruses infiltrate your computer, multiply and do different things depending on how they're programmed. They can delete information, replace it, or alter the system. They can even spread to other computers via email or messenger programs. Malware represents one of those facets of humankind we've yet to understand. Most malware simply exists for advertising purposes, companies trying to learn your surfing and shopping habits so they can advertise even better. Yet, there exists a good amount of it that serves only one purpose: to destroy and steal. Whether it's identity theft or just some nut enjoying your misery over lost vacation photos, malware of the lowest order is out there. I'm not so much concerned today with telling and teaching you the technical aspects of malware, but how to avoid, detect, and fix it. The simplest analogy, one you've probably heard before, is that computers are like the human body. They are susceptable to disease and sickness varying by the amount of protection they have and the routine maintenance done on them. If you don't shower for days, chances are you'll stink and most likely get sick Computer equivalent: Routine system clean ups. As you surf the net, listen to music, download files, and play games, junk files build up. Every few days, a defragmenting is a good idea. This will most likely be explained in a future Tech Lesson, so I won't cover it just yet. Also cleaning out your internet cache will not only speed the computer up slightly, but it will prevent malicious cookies from infiltrating your system. If you don't take medicine when you need it, you'll get sicker and possibly suffer serious consequences. If your computer begins to slow down, or pop ups show up when you're not surfing the net, or your computer is being just plain weird, you should run a malware check. Some of the best programs are as follows: Lavasoft's Ad-Aware Free Edition - Incredible free software that will keep your computer in top shape. Highly acclaimed and available in stronger pay versions, Ad-Aware is THE anti-spyware and malware program of the day. Spybot Search and Destroy - A great partner to Ad Aware, Spybot S&D tends to pick up infections Ad Aware does not. Spybot also immunizes your internet browsing against certain cookies. Another highly acclaimed program, check it out, it's free! Webroot SpySweeper - One of my personal preferences, Webroot does an awesome job of removing and fixing virus related problems. It's also available in most major electronic stores (Best Buy, Circuit City, or places like Target and Walmart). Try a free trial today! AVG Free Antivirus - An internet favorite and user choice, AVG provies unrivaled power for a free product. Also available in a pay version AVG offers great virus killing power with little resource hogging. Download the free version but trust me, you'll be buying it soon after! If you don't excercise and eat right, you'll slow down Without a steady diet of reliable programs and upgrades, your computer will not be able to keep up with the world and net around it and unlike you and I, a computer can't go for a jog to get itself into shape. At least once every year, upgrade some memory and data storage capacity on your computer to keep it running at an optimal level. Internet connections are getting faster, but slower computers cannot handle them. Memory allows your computer to run more programs at once (think of having increased "brain" capacity so you could think about more at once!) and data storage offers more space so that the computer has more room to work with (stuffing a small car with camping gear sucks, using a truck or SUV works best!). Malware Threats Virus makers and advertisers are two entirely different entities. Advertisers will typically get you throw shady websites. If you are a frequent surfer, it's probably a good idea to scan after each session to be safe. Yes, it's true, simply by clicking onto a site, you can be infected, so try to stick to safe sites. Also, surf with Firefox, never Internet Explorer. Imagine driving through Iraq, wouldn't you rather drive in a tank? Emails are common attack spots. Most email services offer spam protection, but they're not guaranteed. Do not open emails from people don't know, no matter how many inches it will add to your penis or how much money king Juju wants to give you. Basically, safely traversing any connection to the web is a solid idea. A big new trend is to disguise viruses by calling them AntiVirus programs. Pretty evil, eh? That's right, these people trick you into thinking you're getting free protection when all they're really doing is stealing information from you. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it is. Fork over some cash and buy a good antivirus program (aside from the ones listed above, of course!). Check here for some good selections: PC World's Top 10 Antivirus Softwares (2006) That's it for now! Remember, surf safe and strong! If you think you have a malware of sorts do not panic! Use an antivirus scanner along with an ad/spyware scanner (like Ad Aware) and check out your computer. Do not try and fix things yourself if you are not 100% comfortable! Computers can be difficult, especially sick ones, so be patient. Hope this was helpful! Go download/buy an antivirus and/or malware detection program now! This topic is now open to discussion. Do you have any problems you think may be malware related? Ask here! Have a suggestion for software? Tell it here! A reivew of the article I wrote would be great, too!