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Thieves target your computer
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Scammers are becoming more creative, but one of their biggest theft tools is still the computer.
If you don’t know the differences between a virus, Trojan horse, worm and rootkit, then your computer, your personal information and your money could be at risk.
Beef up your computer’s security and set it to automatically update every day. That’s how often new viruses come out. Even one virus program might not be enough. Consider also installing spyware or malware programs. Keep your computer’s operating system current by getting the updates.
Make sure anyone in your house who uses your computer (the kids really should have their own) can recognize suspicious activity and know not to give out personal information. For young children, set their e-mail to not accept attachments and keep an eye on what they do online.
Be careful where you click. Go to the wrong Web site and you could inadvertently let a Trojan horse into your computer and end up giving control of it to thieves. Investigate programs that will scan links before you open them. AVG, a free virus-protection software, has Link Scanner, which will put a green check beside all links that are safe.
Minimize the number of occasions you check your accounts from your home computer, or call the bank’s automated teller instead. Don’t sign up for any e-mail correspondence from your bank or credit-card companies. That way if you get e-mail from one of them, you’ll automatically know it’s a scam.
Take a close look through your computer’s hard drive (especially if you’ve had it for a few years) to make sure you haven’t stored any passwords or account numbers.
If you have a friend who loves to pass along jokes or funny links in e-mail, ask him or her to stop. You’ve no doubt already heard them, and passing along a not-so-funny bug is entirely possible. Worse is if the friend likes to paste whole Web pages into your e-mail. Your computer can be at risk of any malicious code on that page.
Best bet: Use an older computer that’s no longer hooked up to the Internet for your checking software and to store your personal information.

Uffington does not personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into his column when possible. Write to him in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mail to
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