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Getting Rid of and Keeping Malware Off Your Computer

All of this malicious software talk is a little bit scary and probably has you wondering how to detect it and help keep it off your computer. Vista, by default, has a program called Windows Defender that does just that. Windows Defender is a free program that helps detect spyware and similar software on your computer (notice I didn’t say viruses, though). You can use it in two ways: First, you can use it to monitor your computer in real-time while you use it. It’ll alert you if any bad software tries to install itself and help you keep malware off your computer by deleting it before it even gets on there. Next, you can use Windows Defender to automatically run a scan of your computer every so often (you choose how often) to make sure that no bad software has made its way onto your hard drive. You can get to Windows Defender by going to the Start menu, to All Programs, and choosing Windows Defender. Keep one thing in mind though, and it’s probably the most important part of this tip: Windows Defender is not antivirus software—it’s an anti-spyware program, but will not detect or remove viruses (there are several tips later in this chapter with more info on viruses).

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