Is anti-virus dead?

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Hi, Leo. Do you have any observations, comments or advice about the recent Symantec talk given to Wall Street Journal? They seem to say that only 45% of computer viruses are caught. Are we as home users more prone to attack nowadays, or is this comment mainly directed to companies as an earnings increase tactic? I’m sure we’ll be interested in their falling profits.

Yeah, this actually made the headlines a couple of weeks ago. The headline that was being generated of course, was “Antivirus is dead”.

No.

Antivirus is not dead.

In my opinion this is just another case where somebody chooses an exceptionally sensational headline or position in the hopes that it will get people talking. Apparently they succeeded, because here I am, talking about it.

Read moreIs anti-virus dead?

Why does this ad imply I have a criminal record?

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I recently put my name into the Norton search engine and came across the following:

Ad related to (the person asking the question’s name appears). (His name)  “was arrested?” and then the name of a website that promises to check your records with the phrase “free public record search application.”

Not only was I shocked (to see his name in the ad) but felt that anybody repeating a search on my name would infer I had a criminal record, I have written to the company demanding that the offensive link of my name with a criminal history be removed – although I’m not sure that they would be responsible for the context of my name in their advertisement for checking on an individual’s criminal history. The sad thing is that if you put anybody’s name into this company’s search engine, until a fee is actually paid, it conveys the impression that a specific inquiry would lead to a criminal background. Your words of advice would be appreciated.

First, I’ll explain what you can do about ads like this. Then, I’ll try to explain why this misleading ad is popping up in the first place.

Read moreWhy does this ad imply I have a criminal record?

How safe is iCloud?

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OK, Leo. How safe is iCloud? I have a feeling that privacy is a thing of the past. How do I know that nobody’s looking at my stuff?

This question is bigger than just iCloud. How safe is any online service, to be honest?

Ultimately, with any service provider, you simply don’t know that your data isn’t being looked at unless you take steps to protect it.

Read moreHow safe is iCloud?

Will adding an “s” to http make my connection secure?

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I’m using a website to confirm a rental and they require some personal information. I’m pretty confident in the company. I noticed the page for this added info was only an http site – no “s.” To see what would happen, I typed an “s” after the http, pressed Enter, and the page flickered like it was reloading, but there it was – same page but now with an https. Did this work? Could it really be that easy to get a secure page? Or did my browser just fool me? I tried an F5 refresh and the https remained. What do you think? Am I safe and secure now?

Adding an s to the http to make it secure is interesting. It’s tempting to see what will happen when you try it. But even when it works, I have some concerns.

Read moreWill adding an “s” to http make my connection secure?

How do I secure my website?

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If you have your own website, how do you keep it from being infected with viruses that get passed on to viewers? Two of our sites are just ISP-provided personal web space to which we publish Front Page pages. The other is a hosted site and the pages are just HTML that I edit with FrontPage and upload via FTP.

If you have a static website (meaning it’s just .html) that you’ve uploaded via FrontPage, FTP, or whatnot, the single most important thing to do is choose a good password and keep it secure.

One class of site hacks is simply people getting the password, ftping in, and monkeying about with files on the site.

While that does happen, it’s actually not the most common cause for a good number of site hacks these days.

That gets a little more technical.

Read moreHow do I secure my website?

I’m not seeing a padlock with my https site. Is it safe?

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Before I make any transaction with my credit card, I always look at the address bar at the top to see if it begins with https and that there’s a closed golden padlock at the extreme right of the bar. Then and only then will I proceed. Recently, I’ve come across a couple of trusted and/or reputable sites which do exhibit the https part, but the padlock is missing. Instead, they have sort of a reassurance like “your order is safe and secure with all SSL 128 or 256 blah, blah” lower down where you enter all of your personal details and credit card number. Now what would I like to know is this safe? Even though the vendor’s site is reputable and it’s recommended by an equally reputable person? At the best of times, I’m rather paranoid about giving my personal details to an invisible entity so when it comes to credit card details and such, my distrust knows no bounds. Am I being overly cautious or am I being justified somewhat reticent?

You’re justified in asking these questions. I suspect that there’s actually something that you’re missing on screen, which is fine.

I do want to cover just exactly what that padlock does (and does not) mean and what the https is all about.

Read moreI’m not seeing a padlock with my https site. Is it safe?