Book Review - PC Pest Control by Preston Gralla
Since I live and breathe computer stuff, I'm pretty much up to speed on how aware someone needs to be when it comes to PC security. But every once in awhile, I'm forced to look at a PC through the eyes of someone who really doesn't understand what's going on... like my father... But there's finally a book I could give a typical user to allow them to sort through the nasty world of personal PC security... PC Pest Control by Preston Gralla.
Overall Protection: Your PC Is Not Your Own; Where You're Vulnerable; Pest Prevention and Monitoring; Killing Pests
Fighting Specific Pests: Throw Internet Explorer Out the Window; Adware, Spyware, and Home Page Hijackers; Viruses, Trojans, and Bots; Email, Worms, and Instant Messaging; Spam, Spam, and Spam; Protecting Your Identity and Kids Online; Wireless and Home Networking Dangers
Appendix: A Field Guide To Pests
Gralla has written a book that approaches PC security at a level that can be understood by nearly anyone that uses a computer. Terms such as "spyware" and "bots" will no longer be something that causes your Uncle Joe to scratch his head in total confusion. There's a clear explanation of the different security risks, what they do, how to tell if you have that problem, how to fix the issue, and how to monitor and prevent the problem in the future. There are also references to a number of additional software packages that can be downloaded (free and for purchase) to fill the security gaps that are inherent on Windows systems. Spending $25 on this book will pay for itself immediately when you learn what anti-virus and anti-spyware software is and how you need to have it running on your system. To me, it's second nature. To Uncle Joe, it's a complete unknown.
If the information wasn't so valuable, I'd probably ding the book on a minor nit that started to annoy me after awhile. There's the tendency to repeat the same commentary on something over and over. For instance, whenever the spyware software CoolWebSearch is mentioned, it's followed by "may well be the most reviled piece of spyware in existence". Fine the first time, OK the second, after that it was distracting. Same thing with the advice about upgrading to SP2 if you're running Windows XP. I really don't need to see that as the recommended solution to nearly everything (even if they do try to make it humorous after awhile).
If you're a hard-core geek and IT professional, you probably know most of this. But if you have the unenviable task of being the de facto help desk for your extended family, you might want to buy this book as a Christmas present for your most problematic "customers". It'll pay off for both of you...