Are you protected?

Today, I learned some very hard lessons about computer viruses and the software we use to protect ourselves. The only reason the crisis was averted as quickly as it was (and with minimal hair pulling on my part) was because I have a computer genius for a brother. Through this wise sage, I learned that – even with anti-viral software – your computer can still pick up viruses. But wait, there’s more! Your computer can pick up these viruses from legitimate websites – I’m talking Google, CNN, etc. – despite their efforts to keep their sites clean.

I also learned that there are basically two types of malware (viruses, I just like sounding smart when it comes to technology): the ones that are used to copy/delete personal information and something called scareware. Scareware is interesting and works sort of like this…you’re minding your own business, typing an email to your BFF in Peru, and a notification box pops up with an urgent message of “Danger, Will Robinson!” proportions. It tells you that a virus has been detected, and you must click on a button to delete it – or your computer will self-destruct in 30 seconds. (I’m exaggerating, but you get my point.) When you click on the button to delete, the system will “try” to delete the virus and fail. You’ll then be prompted to do something like an “online scan.” And that will take you to a site that will suggest you purchase additional software – except they’re all viruses! It’s like going to the pharmacy and saying, “Yes, I’d like to purchase a syringe of the Black Death, please.”

As my brother walked me through the process of scanning and eliminating all of the malware on my computer, he informed me that smart phones can get viruses, too. By this point, I was about ready to revert back to using notepads, regular ink pens and the old standby rotary phone.

Since I’ve never had a problem with viruses on my computer, I’ve never taken the anti-viral software scans and update notices all that seriously. During this incident, though, I was secretly freaking out about whether or not all of my personal information was being broadcast over the internet or if I was going to lose things stored in my computer. I’ll certainly take the anti-virus software update messages more seriously from this point on, you can count on that.

Surprisingly, though, this is not a post about computer safety – although, I hope it encourages you to be more vigilant about your anti-viral software. During this whole ordeal, I found myself making a connection to our spiritual walk. We may begin to get comfortable in our spiritual routines and find ourselves thinking that because we do a, b and/or c, we’re safe from sinning. Not so. Walking upright before God is something that we must be intentional about every day (heck, every hour, every minute…). We also may think that because we don’t go to certain places or hang around certain people that we’re safe from temptations. Not so. Just like my laptop can pick up a virus from a legitimate website, we as believers can encounter temptations from a “legitimate” source – because none of us is perfect.

So, if you want to keep your computer and spiritual walk free from viruses, I’d like to suggest a few steps to take:

  • Make sure that you have a virus detection program. (For Christians, that would be the Holy Spirit.)
  • Make sure that your virus detection program is up to date and set to do daily scans. (For Christians, that means read your Bible and pray every day – just like the old Sunday school song says.)
  • If you notice something is not right, don’t wait for the scheduled virus scan, do an on-demand scan right away. (For Christians, that means don’t wait until the next prayer/healing/deliverance service at church. “Have a little talk with Jesus” as soon as possible!)
  • Most importantly, when your virus detection program alerts you to a problem, pay attention and follow directions!