Although the title suggests it's for teens who need to know the basics of computer security, it could also be useful to the vast majority of average computer users of all ages.
The book is written to cover the basics of computer security (firewalls, antivirus software, privacy, etc.) from the perspective of teens who use the computer in unique ways. The content is divided into four parts:
Part 1 - Protecting Your Machine - Gremlins In Your Machine; When Software Attacks: All About Viruses; From Sneaks To Slammers: How Viruses Get On Your System; The Built-In Doctor: Antivirus Programs; Guardians At The Gate: Firewalls; Locking Up, Part 1: Software Updates; Locking Up, Part 2: System And Application Configuration; Backups: The Most Important Thing You'll Probably Never Do; What To Do When You've Been Hit
Part 2 - Protecting Your Privacy - When They Think It's You, But It Isn't: Identity Theft; Passwords: Your Key To The Internet; The Traces You Leave Behind: What Your Machine Says About You; Every Move You Make, They'll Be Watching You
Part 3 - Protecting Yourself - Chat Rooms, Public And Private; Scams
Part 4 - Appendixes - Everyday Security; Registry Tricks; A Note For Parents; Index
"The Teen's Guide To Safe Computing"... No, this isn't a moralistic guide to what sites are good and bad for your kid to be visiting. "Always Use Protection"... It's a book on what and how to secure your computer from attacks and scams, written with the unique needs of the teenaged computer user in mind. But don't let that stop you from reading the book if you're a parent (or even if you don't have kids). You'll learn plenty.
As you can tell from the table of contents, Dan Appleman covers the gamut of issues related to computer security. You'll learn what viruses are, and how they can get onto your computer in the first place. By using antivirus software and firewalls, you'll learn how to actively defend against virus attacks. And by keeping your software up to date, you'll lessen your chances even further of being a victim of the latest virus sweeping the internet. Appleman also goes into privacy and identity theft on the internet, and what you need to know about not exposing too much information that could be used against you.
So why is this written for teens? The typical teenage computer user fits a different profile than the adult computer user. There's more use of instant messaging and chat rooms to stay in touch with friends, as well as participation in file-sharing networks and online gaming sites. These types of computing activities can leave certain pathways open to your computer and make it more susceptible to attack. Rather than just say "don't do that" (which would be ignored anyway), the author explains how taking the right precautions can keep your computer from becoming the latest victim, while still participating in activities that you enjoy. The tone is light, humorous, readable, and non-judgmental, and shouldn't pose an issue to any teen's sensibilities.
But quite honestly, you could drop the word "teen's" from the title, and this would still be an excellent book for the vast majority of average computer users. Based on how viruses spread so quickly these days, most people are not following the basic information presented in this book. Unless you're a full-scale computer geek, you'll probably learn something regardless of your age. For me, the chapter on routers and firewalls was perfect. I just recently bought a router for my cable internet connection, and now I know how the internals work. Very nice stuff.
If you're the parent of teens who are "computer active", you owe it to yourself and them to get this book. And while you're at it, you might want to read it yourself. I guarantee you'll learn something and suffer far fewer virus attacks if you do.