About three-quarters of Americans believe they're safe from online threats, according to a study by American Online and the National Cyber Security Alliance
In reality, many computer users are remarkably unprepared for the online dangers from Internet viruses, hackers, spam e-mails, and spyware.
The problem is that computer users suffer from complacency and a lack of knowledge about how to keep their computers secure. Who's responsible? Computer users don't believe they should have to purchase additional software to keep their systems safe, and computer companies blame the consumer. As fingers point back and forth, the number of online viruses and attacks keeps going up.
Even computer users who have a firewall, virus scanner, and antispyware package installed on their computers are complaining about unwanted Internet activity on their systems. According to industry experts, most spyware scanners are adware scanners with a few keyloggers (which capture your keystrokes and thus, passwords and account numbers) thrown in as an afterthought. In other words, they're not effective. If an ex-spouse or identity thief planted a surveillance program on the computer, that software can steal an identity.
What can you do?
*Download critical updates for Windows from Microsoft.
*Purchase an antivirus software package and set it for daily updates.
*Avoid free software offers from the Internet, which almost certainly add spyware of their own.
*Purchase a program to remove spyware. Some free spyware removal programs install their own spyware.