Computer Internet Security
Three main components of computer internet security include virus protection, spyware removal and simple awareness on how to avoid both email spam and phishing (the act of fraudulently acquiring sensitive, personal information such as passwords, account numbers, social security numbers, etc. through emails and online forms).
You can get spyware in many ways, but the most common are:
a) installing spyware as part of another program you download (such as freeware or shareware)
b) tricking you into clicking a link that downloads spyware or manipulating options within an already installed program that initiates spyware programs.
c) surfing to a webpage controlled by a spyware author that attacks the browser and forces spyware installation without your knowledge
Spyware does things as seemingly harmless as monitoring keystrokes or changing the default settings of your internet browser (your keystrokes could reveal a password, for example) to more outright malicious activity like scanning the files on your hard drive or stealing credit card numbers and other personal information. Pay attention to the fine print in the user agreements of downloaded software. Often they refer to spyware that will be installed and sometimes you even have a choice not to install that portion of the program.
What Can You Do to Avoid Spyware?
1) As part of your computer internet security, get an anti-spyware program. One of my favorites … Super Anti-Spyware. Update the program frequently and run scans regularly. This program scours the web for new threats and provides daily definition updates. You can download it for free! Run it two or three times in a row until all of the spyware is removed.
SuperAntiSpyware – Protect your computer from web threats
2) If you use Internet Explorer, update security patches often and only download programs from reliable sources. It seems that spyware likes to attach itself to IE functionality, so another option is to use a different internet browser such as Mozilla Firefox or Apple Safari.
3) Backup your data … spyware is growing in its maliciousness and cleverness and affects more than 90% of all computers. A worst-case solution for severe spyware infiltration is to basically erase your hard drive and reinstall your operating system.
Phishing (pronounced “fishing”) is the act of fraudulently acquiring sensitive, personal information such as passwords, account numbers, social security numbers, etc. through emails and online forms.
Phishers (professional criminals) can make the email message look legitimate by copying logos and text from real companies, and even providing a link that appears to lead to the actual company website, when in fact it leads to a replica website.
1) Point your mouse to the email link or a submit link. The actual website address to which you are being directed is displayed at the bottom left of your browser window. This is a quick way to see if you are being led to a legitimate website or not.
2) Don’t click links within email messages … open a new browser window and manually type in the legitimate website name. Be sure to delete the email message and “empty the trash” frequently.
New computer viruses are created every day that are either annoying or actually harm our computer system. Here are two of the most popular ones:
Trojan – A trojan horse is a program that appears to perform a legitimate function but has malicious code within it meant to cause damage to your computer such as erasing data, corrupting files, spreading other viruses, randomly shutting down your computer, phishing, and logging keystrokes … to name a few.
Mass-Mailing Worm – A program that propagates by sending copies of itself to recipients via electronic email. Once the recipient opens the email attachment, the malicious program executes on the victim’s computer and further propagates itself.
Protect yourself the best you can by:
1) Avoiding the download of anything onto your computer that isn’t from a 100% reliable source or sender.
2) Make sure that your operating system is always up-to-date.
3) Install anti-virus software and download updates daily. Select options within the anti-virus program to scan email messages and all downloads.
There are malicious spam spiders out there with the sole purpose of scanning web pages in order to harvest email addresses. One link they find quite often is “mailto:”. In fact, it is hard to find a website that doesn’t have an email address embedded in it on at least one of the pages.
If you have your own website, use form email instead of an email link. Setup a separate email address from your main one, such as [email protected]
2) Get SPAM blocking software or use an email account provider that has a very good SPAM blocker in place.
3) Use a free email address for use in online activities and subscriptions (Gmail or Yahoo, for instance). Your main email address can be given to friends, family and other personal or business contacts.
4) It is very common for SPAM email messages to contain an attached file of some sort. And spammers have become very clever about their subject lines and “from” addresses, making the email appear to be from a source you are familiar with or something very tempting to open. Do not open attachments if the sender is unknown. And do not provide personal information, account numbers and such. Verify the source first.