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Security Alert!: What Every Vista User Should Know to Keep Their Computer Safe

In this excerpt from The Windows Vista Book, authors Matt Kloskowski and Kleber Stephenson show you how to protect a computer running Windows Vista from all of the bad people wanting to do bad things to it.
This chapter is from the book

Allow? Don’t Allow? Continue? Cancel? I’ve got good news and bad news. Bad news first: get used to seeing the questions at the beginning of this paragraph. The world of online computing has a lot of bad people in it, and they all want to do bad things to your computer, or even retrieve things from your computer and use them against you. Now, for the good news: Vista was made with one main goal in mind—keeping your computer safe. Part of doing that is constantly asking you whether you really want to visit a website, install a program, or download something. But there are other parts to keeping secure and safe and they are what we’ll look at in this chapter. Yeah, I know it gets kind of annoying, but trust me, in the end your computer will be that much better for it.

Why You Should Worry About Keeping Your Computer Safe

If you’ve ever had a virus, spyware, or some other unpleasant intrusion into your personal computing life, then you can probably skip this because you already know why it’s important. If not, then give it a quick read before moving on. So, here’s the deal: every time you turn your computer on and connect to a network or the Internet (wired or wireless), you leave your computer vulnerable to Internet criminals (let’s just call them “mean” people) and potentially damaging software (let’s just call this “bad” software). Even if you take the highest of precautions for securing your computer, you can still have problems if you share files with other people who haven’t taken those precautions. Now, most of what these mean people do and most of their bad software is illegal, but here’s the thing—some is not. They have ways of having you agree to download and install programs on your computer that can either invade your privacy or flat-out harm your computer, but that’s all done legally. Even if you kept on reading after the first sentence, I’m pretty sure this isn’t the first time you’ve heard of this. This is a huge problem, but Microsoft has been working hard for the past few years to squash this once and for all in Vista. Fortunately, the tools you need are right at your fingertips. It’s just up to you to turn them on and leave them on to help protect your computer.

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