Staying Safe: Protecting your computer

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Computer users and experts are waiting to see if the April 1 target date for a bad new bug called Conficker is real or a false alarm. Either way, we have safety tips from Symantec, the company with a Utah presence that specializes in Internet security.

Keeping your security software updated is all you really need to worry about, right? Wrong. Your kids can be your biggest vulnerability, says Marian Merritt from Symantec.

"Because if they click on the wrong thing, it doesn't matter how great my security software is, they can make me vulnerable too," Merritt explained.

In fact, peer-to-peer music sharing sites, she said, are the most dangerous sites for family computers.

Here's another myth: Stick to trusted sites and you'll be safe. Wrong. People have been infected with the Conficker worm through MySpace and the Miami Dolphins' official Web site, for example.

Merritt says it's safest not to download from a link. "You have to stay savvy and aware and not accept unknown downloads. If you're video player needs updating, go to the manufacturers Web site and download it yourself," she said.

That means don't shop from the link you get with a special discount in your e-mail.

Finally, you should proceed as normal if the Conficker worm proves to be an April Fool's Day hoax? Wrong again.

"Just as when you leave your house and go out on the street you take precautions for your physical safety, you need to start using the same metaphor when you go on to the Internet. Keep your wits about you and look around you and always be a little suspicious," Merritt said.

We should point out an estimated 200,000 U.S. computers are already infected with this worm. For more information on the Conficker bug, as well as some extra tips, click the extra video segment above. -- (Note: Because the interview was done via satellite, there will be brief pauses in which the interviewer will be asking a question. You will not hear the interviewer's question, but you will hear Merritt's answers)


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