Securing your Computer Against Malware and Virus Attacks
Probably the best way of ensuring you are protected from computer virus and malware attacks is to make certain all your security up-dates are installed as they become available. Cyber-criminals are continuously finding ways around the various security protection software as they develop and regular up-dates are the best way to keep them at arm’s length. Some of the most efficient ways of keeping your computer safe is to follow the following basic rules:
- Always use passwords on everything you do on your computer and change them regularly. Of course it is a pain using different passwords all the time but you will get used to it and it could save you a lot of worry that will occur, once you have been compromised. Passwords aren't the total answer but they will make things harder and put other people off using your computer, especially people who might not be as security conscious as yourself.
- Install anti-spam software filters so that unsolicited email never gets into your mailbox. Nearly all Internet Service Providers (ISP) and mail providers offer spam protection software as part of their service but it will still pay you to install your own, just to be certain you are fully protected.
- Firewalls are a software specifically designed to protect your computer from a number of happenings. They monitor data traffic to and from your computer and block any access if you haven't previously authorised it. It is there for you to use so make yourself familiar with it and put it to good use.
- Install a good anti virus software that is capable of detecting and getting rid of all types of malware and computer viruses. Update your protection on a regular basis and make certain it is capable of scanning all your emails and downloading requirements as they are being accessed from the internet.
- Ensure your computer operating system is regularly updated. If you make this a practice you will know you have all the latest fixes and patches installed.
Therefore, the most important thing you need to understand about internet security at this point, is to make sure you never open any email attachments unless you are 100 percent certain they originate from people you know and trust. Nor should you leave your computer operating when you are not in the vicinity, especially if you are in the process of providing credit card information to an online shopping site, or if you are logged into your bank. Many websites will tell you they have encryption available to allow you to securely transfer sensitive information. If this is true they should have an icon of a padlock on the lower right of their site window and if you use Microsoft applications always enable Macro Virus protection, but never run macros if you are not certain of what the document consists of.
Two Types of Hijackers to Remain Aware of at all Times
Although it may all seem too much to fight against, there are actually only two types of cyber criminals who are out there to do you damage. If you are aware of these you will go a long way to keeping them from getting to know you. They are:
- The first is the most serious type of hacker who, thankfully, more often than not targets commerce and governments. These types of hackers are not usually interested in the simple computer used by the average household. Now and again you might have run across one of them and inadvertently upset them in some way and they have accepted the challenge. If this happens it is very difficult and perhaps impossible to stop them, other than changing your phone number and buying a new computer.
- The second type is the one you will most likely come across and they are commonly known as 'scripties' or 'script kiddies. Scripties gain access to certain scripts that have been written by extremely clever individuals. These scripts are then used to locate and exploit any vulnerability that can be found in a computers operating system. They generally gain access to your computer after carrying out a port scan on your specific IP address. By doing this they are able to find an open port that may have been previously opened up by a Trojan. It could also gain access through a known weakness in your operating system. When they locate what they want they enter your computers operating system and effectively take over your PC and its internet connection. Included in this group are people known as spammers. These people are only interested in finding a way to use your computer so they can maximise their email output.
There is always someone somewhere looking to find a way to gain unauthorised access to your computer for their own devious ends. The risk has gotten greater with the advent of super fast broadband as you will now be online for longer periods. This gives them more time to do their illegal work much more efficiently than they could previously. If you have a troublesome pop up that won't go away you can press Ctrl-Alt-Del, then click on the problem browser or pop up name when the Application list appears. You then click 'End Task' to close the troublesome browser and all pop ups that go with it. This will only give you temporary relief however. It will come back again as it hasn't been removed from your hard drive, only closed down for the time being.
No Room for Complacency Where Computer Security is Concerned
One thing you mustn't do is to become complacent. This way of thinking can occur if you tell yourself that you only use your computer online for playing games and a visit to Facebook now and again, so you’re unlikely to run into any internet security issues. However, it is exactly this type of user the scammers and other devious characters are looking out for. Some of these people couldn't care less about what you have on your computer. What they are after is your computer itself. Virus writers, hackers and spammers are all experts at keeping their identities secret and they go to great lengths to make sure this remains so. To do this successfully they have to keep finding new computers to work from. They don't use their own. They can work behind the scenes undetected for quite long periods and it is when you start trying to find the cause of your computer slowing they start destroying things, real time. They then move on to another unprotected device.
In order to control your computer from a remote location, hackers use part of a code they call a daemon or agent. By doing this they are able to control one, or many thousands of PC's, around the world. They call the computers they control 'zombies.' It is from these zombies they take aim for bigger fish. A zombie computer is vitally important in their Denial of Service (DoS) attacks. These attacks are capable of bringing at least part of the internet to a complete stop. Spammers too are quite capable of using your computer as a 'way station.' When they find a vulnerable computer they are capable of installing a full email server on it which they then use as a hidden mail server to deliver thousands upon thousands of spam messages from.
Internet Security Protection You Can Implement Now to Protect Yourself, Your Computer and Your Data
Now that you have an awareness of what you are up against you have to turn your thoughts to doing something about it. There are free anti-virus software programs available and these can be quite good up to a certain point, but it only stands to reason that if you actually pay for a recognised product that has been successfully operating for many years, you stand a better chance of keeping your computer clean. When choosing any one of these well known anti-virus software products make sure that it includes your email and fully protects you against web site infections. It must be able to do these things as well as keep a constant eye on your complete system to properly guard you against infection from all sources.
Spyware infection is growing so rapidly around the world that no known software is currently available that can keep up with the flow. For this reason it will be in your interests to install not one, but two anti-spyware programs. It appears that those who use Internet Explorer are at a bigger risk of being infected by spyware than those who use other like programs.
Computer Security is not Confined to Remote Hackers
You should also keep in mind that it is not always hackers who attack your computer from afar you need to protect yourself from. If you share your computer with others, or if your lap top or notebook can be easily accessed by others and you keep sensitive material saved on it that you don't want others to gain access to, you should always use password protection. Passwords are a pain but their protection is the first step to your personal security solution. To make password protection easier you can install a sound and reliable password manager software that will be able to manage your passwords, account numbers, serial numbers, PINs and anything else you might want password protected.
Firewall Protection Stands at the Front Line
An effective firewall is paramount to any anti-virus protection you might have as it is at the front line where outgoing and incoming data is being trafficked. It is here where any unauthorised activity can be first recognised and stopped from going any further. It is the soldier standing on guard who sounds the first alarm, and if your firewall is configured properly it alone can prevent your computer from becoming a zombie. It can also entrap key loggers and spyware operators before they get started on their devious deeds of destruction. You will find that Service Pack 2 has considerably improved the Windows XP firewall. Even so it isn't capable of doing a perfect job and some weaknesses do become apparent every so often. To overcome this you can install a third party scanner instead. If you do this you will have to turn off the windows firewall as firewalls are not compatible with each other. If your broadband is always connected you should get a hardware firewall to use in conjunction with your software firewall. You will find many of the newer cable/DSL routers have a hardware firewall built into their product.
If you have a new computer and you want to have full security protection right from the start, you will have many of the tools described above already installed. If you want to go a step further right from the start to give you full peace of mind, you can purchase one of the reputable security suites that are readily available. These security suites will combine parental control, anti-spyware, anti-virus, anti-spam, and firewall protection all in the one package.
It is hoped that this guide to internet security will save you from a lot of heartache and emotional distress that will always accompany the loss of your files and, in a worst case scenario, the loss of your computer's usefulness. Anybody who has been using computers for any length of time will be fully aware of the damage hackers can do once they get the upper hand. The best you can do as a computer user is to make their job as hard as you can by not allowing them access to your files in the first place. It can be done if you remain vigilant and remain on your guard at all times. Keeping your computer clean will give you many hours, and even years, of enjoyable, safe, reliable, computing.
The Reasoning Behind Computer Viruses and Malware Attacks
Some computer viruses, and malware generally, do no more than be annoying by loading your computer with spam and useless advertising material. Many other such attacks are the acts of cyber criminals who's only thought is to steal your personal information such as your credit card details, passwords, and bank account numbers. Once they have what they want they will then go about destroying your hard drive so they can not be traced. Others simply want to use your internet broadband connection for illegal purposes without you knowing anything about it. This guide to internet security will go a long way to helping you make your computer safe from such attacks.