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Keywords: PC security, viruses, firewall, spam, networking, phishing, trojans

Title: PC Pest Control

Author: Preston Gralla

Publisher: O'Reilly

ISBN: 0596009267

Media: Book

Level: Beginner

Verdict: Recommended


When the general public were being sold on the idea of the 'information super-highway' one thing they weren't prepared for were the hazards of the road. Nobody mentioned highway robbery as a daily possibility. But, with the rise and rise of a connected society we've had the rise and rise of crudware of all descriptions - trojans, viruses, worms, bots, adware, spyware and on and on and on. Trying to keep safe requires a bewildering range of software tools, activities and constant vigilance. For the average Joe or Josephine this is no mean feat. Enter then, PC Pest Control, a slim little book from O'Reilly that aims to guide the non-expert user through the PC security nightmare.

First off the design of the book needs a mention. There's enough flourescent yellow to induce a migraine. Maybe it's meant to look like someone's vandalised your book with a high-lighter. And the text is busy, with lots of side-bars and asides and so on. Maybe it's the attention-deficit teen that's the target demographic. Who knows?

But aside from that gripe the content is pretty solid. All of the major security issues are covered, from email to phishing to firewalls to instant messaging. The issues are handled in a relatively non-technical language that's clear and easy to understand. It's not just the explanation of the problems, the solutions are if anything even more important. And here too the writing is just at the right level for the average user.

Where software tools are mentioned there's a tendency to stick to the most well-known paths - Symantec, McAffee etc. Some free tools do get mentioned, such as the ZoneAlarm personal firewall, but other offerings, such as AVG Anti-virus or Kerio personal firewall don't.

At times the writing tends to be a bit repetitive, but if that helps get the security message across then that's no bad thing. While there is reasonable coverage of security issues in many home networking books, such as Home Networking Simplified or Home Networking Annoyances, it's a useful resource to have a single book that is specific to the threats the PC user faces from all quarters. For the average user wanting to find a path through the PC security minefield then this is one guide book that is definitely to be recommended.

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Contents © TechBookReport 2005. Published November 4 2005