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by
Sarah Hoyt

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December 15, 2011 - 2:23 pm

My friend Francis Turner who writes the blog L’Ombre de l’Olivier sent me an email about protecting my computer from virus attacks.  This was particularly germane since a recent weekend was devoted to weeding out #1 son’s computer.  Since #1 son is far more computer competent than I am, and has never before been hit, it seems to me I’m at considerable risk.

And, of course, over the holidays, you end up shopping at some iffy sites, because sometimes those are the only ones that carry the barbarian-princess-in-only-chain-mail calendar that you know the men in your household will love.

So, in the spirit of keeping your computer safe for the holidays, here is the email Francis sent me:

We (the company I work for — ThreatSTOP) have come up with a simple way to see if your computer is under the control of someone else, that is to say whether it is running a “Trojan” or “botted”. It’s a simple download that anyone can run and get a report at the end.

http://www.threatstop.com/threatcheck

The app is important because malware writers these days can regularly avoid (and even disable) antivirus so you may have no idea that there’s a banking trojan on your computer until suddenly you discover that you just sent all the money in your online bank account to some guy in Romania. This is pretty much guarranteed to ruin your holiday season if it happens and it isn’t fantasy, it’s happened to thousands of people and small businesses (see http://krebsonsecurity.com/2011/11/title-firm-sues-bank-over-207k-cyberheist/ for example).

Let your holiday shopping be merry and safe.

Sarah Hoyt lives in Colorado with her husband, two sons and too many cats. She has published Darkship Thieves and 16 other novels, and over 100 short stories. Writing non-fiction is a new, daunting endeavor. For more on Sarah and samples of her writing, look around at Sarah A. Hoyt.com or check out her writing and life blog at According to Hoyt.com.

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