By David Gracey
It’s been way too long since we have made a journey to Cynthia’s Corner. For those of you who have been waiting on the edge of your seats for the next thrilling edition of the technology problems experienced by my mother-in-law, the wait is over!
When we last visited Cynthia’s Corner, the “blueness” had taken over her computer. Things have been relatively quiet lately. But I got a panic call recently saying that her mouse was jumping all over the place. Being the calm professional that I am, I shouted “get out of the house!” But then she said it was her computer mouse having the problem and the “pointer” (her term, actually very accurate) was jumping around the screen when she moved the mouse.
After a little bit of digging I determined Cynthia had some malware that needed to be cleaned up. Related to computer viruses, malware is software that generally tries to sell you something or installs pop up ads in your browser. It’s annoying at best and brings your computer to its knees at worst. In this case, Cynthia had clicked on a popup that was a fake anti-virus notification. Many websites have these embedded either by design or they’ve been hacked. Getting rid of malware can be done but takes some time to run the scans and reboot a few times. Occasionally, the computer will have to be wiped clean and everything reloaded, but that’s the exception, not the rule.
Whether you’re a doctor, lawyer or a stay-at-home grandmother, here are a few simple steps to stay problem-free:
- Update Windows: Make sure your Microsoft Windows operating system stays current. Click on Start > Control Panel > Windows Update to check when your computer was last updated. Microsoft releases patches each month and you should have your computer checked for updates daily. Changing the setting to Auto-Update is a good idea.
- Anti-virus software: A great way to stay bug-free is if you have a good anti-virus program (McAfee, Kasperski, Norton) and it stays current. Usually these programs have a small icon in the system tray, near the clock, that you can click on and view the status.
- Browser protection: Most anti-virus software has a “browser plug-in,” which is an option when you install the anti-virus program. The browser plug-in will scan all websites you visit and make sure they are pop-up and malware-free. Just know that it can block some legitimate pop-ups as well.
So stay away from jumping mice and the blueness and you’ll be happily using your computer like Cynthia.