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busting a few myths about personal computers

By  Mar 17, 2008

Topics: Software Security, Security

You've been using a personal computer for years and have constantly been warned of viruses, Trojans and other security threats. It's time to kill some of these myths. My humble (and very cautious) experience suggests the paranoia and warnings about security threats are overstated.

You've been using a laptop or PC for years, and have constantly been warned of viruses, Trojans and other security threats. I'd like to share my humble (and very cautious) experience with you. You may discover that the paranoia and warnings about security threats are overstated.

There are quite a few myths about personal computers running Windows that have never been refuted.

Myth #1:  Antivirus is a must

My computer doesn't have any antivirus software installed on it. It has been antivirus free since I bought it in 2003. Lo and behold, it's never been contaminated with malicious software and it's never been cracked.

Myth #2: Windows reinstallation every once in awhile is unavoidable

Ever since I bought this computer I've never had to reinstall XP. The same old installation is still running smoothly, without any performance degradation or other sorts of deterioration. I even promise you this: this computer will be recycled and smelted down before a new XP installation will take place. How can I be so sure?

Myth #3: XP is secure, but older versions of Windows are very risky

I have an old (very old!) backup computer which is used only when the main computer is out of order. The backup computer runs...Windows 95. It has run this very installation since 1998 IIRC. Although I've had a few chances to upgrade to 98, 98SE, and the infamous Millennium Edition, I decided eventually to refrain from that because the hardware couldn't run anything newer (and slower) than 95. Now take a deep breath: this machine doesn't have any antivirus either! There's not even a firewall, and yet, it has never been cracked or contaminated by malicious software either. How can it be? Maybe the reason is that no cracker would bother to install a Trojan via a dialup connection of 56kbps… There could be another explanation though: crackers' skills are simply overstated.

Keep it Simple

How do I manage to keep the Bad Guys out? It's simple. I don't install any nonsensical software, I don’t install any Instant Messaging clients, and I don't share (steal would be more appropriate) files, and most of all: I don’t visit dodgy Web sites. Not only do these habits keep my computers clean and secure, they also avoid enormous time wasting.