Adventures in Genealogy Adventures in Genealogy

Viruses

Or "Rednecks, Evil Email & Downloading Attachments"

by Uncle Hiram

I know this may come as a surprise to most of yall, but not everyone out there in the cyber-universe grew up wanting to be John Wayne or Mary Poppins. There are some folks that get a big kick out of messin in other people's oatmeal. I don't pretend to understand what makes these individuals feel the need to destroy other people's computers, but the fact is they exist and we need to guard against them.

I aint suggesting you panic and wrap our computer in saran wrap like Cousin Tyrel did. It is possible to have an enjoyable and successful "safe" computer experience without the use of saran wrap, yellow rubber gloves or duct tape. You just need to follow a few simple rules to avoid the majority of these online viruses.

  1. Get yourself a really good virus killer program. Personally, I would recommend either McAfee or Norton, both are reasonably priced and work extremely good. Of course the key to making either of them work at peak performance is the frequent downloading of their updates. The updates are usually free to the people who buy the program. I cannot stress enough that the cost of these programs is money well spent.

  2. Don't ever download anything from someone you don't know. I know this sounds like a drastic overreaction to a very remote possibility but let me explain my thinking. There is a better chance of Cousin Tyrel winning the Pulitzer prize for Poetry than there is of some stranger sending you a "once in a lifetime" gedcom filled will all your ancestors.

  3. Never download anything from someone you know without first double-checking with them to make sure they sent it to you. The reason for this is simple --- Your buddy may have caught a virus or been hacked. If your buddy or online cousin sent you the attachment, they wont mind verifying it and if they didn't, you will be alerting them to a possible problem with their computer.

  4. Never accept an "instant message" from a screen name you don't know. These things can carry a virus or a "Password Stealer." A password stealer program allows the hacker to access your account and cause all kinds of mischief ---- THAT YOU WILL BE BLAMED FOR.

The key to online safety is to use common sense and to be slightly paranoid. Next week I would like to take a look at another problem that plagues our online world, Urban Myths.

Coming Attractions:

Aug 7th -- Leonard, Texas - Uncle Hiram gives a talk on Internet Genealogy to the Tri-County Gen Society.

September -- About.com/Genealogy Chat - Uncle Hiram gives a talk on Mail List Manners

Remember to check out Dear Myrtle's Online Radio Talk Show at www.DearMyrtle.com. Tell her Uncle Hiram sent you and that I said she should buy the first round. (GRIN).

- Adios and Keep Smiling!

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About the Author
"I am not rich or famous so I don't have a pre-prepared Bio written by some high paid ghost rider. So I will just give Yall the relevant facts."

- Bill Hocutt (Uncle Hiram)

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