Thursday, 27 May 2010

Computer Protection - An Introduction

Computers have been in use for a long time now, and nearly every home in the Western World owns one. With computers being so popular and so many people owning them they have become the target for malicious attacks, threats and also criminal activity.

Originally the main theats around were simple viruses that had one job, to delete files and corrupt information. The large increase in computer ownership and internet access has caused these threats to change and these days most threats are much more sinister. They're designed to steal sensitive information from you. Examples of these threats now are:

  • Viruses

  • Trojans (Including Backdoors, Bots)

  • Phishers/Stealers

  • Keyloggers

  • Worms

  • Malware
  • Spyware

There are a number of things you can do to protect yourself from these threats. The main one, which most people already know about, is to protect yourself with an Anti-Virus. Anti-Viruses help to protect your machine by detecting malicious code in files and on websites. By simply using an Anti-Virus can protect yourself and your computer from harm. Anti-Virus programs are the single-most important piece of software on your computer, aside from your operating system. You should always have this protection on your computer as with todays threats you could be infected within 30 minutes of browsing the internet if unprotected. You should always use a Firewall in conjuction with an Anti-Virus. A Firewall monitors and filters all inbound and outbound connections from your computer. This can prevent trojans from communicating with the outside world, or hackers from gaining access. Other programs to use in conjuction with Anti-Viruses are logfile analysers and specific anti-malware programs.

The other main method to protect yourself is just simply, common sense. Viruses and other threats are mainly contracted through downloading files and attachments from emails. When downloading software always be cautious of where you're downloading it from. If possible you should always download software from the official manufaturers website, so you know it will be safe.

Worms are an example of threats that spread though email. Due to the nature of worms they can auto-spread, meaning that they do not require an infected file to be received or downloaded. You should always be cautions when looking at unknown emails. Worms and Phishing attacks are the two most common threats that occur with emails. Worms will usually spread by getting you to download an attachment. You may receive an email along these lines: "Congratulations, you've won a prize! Click here to collect it" or maybe this "Your Computer Is Infected! Click Here to download security software!". These are both examples of emails used to spread viruses/trojans and worms. You may receive an email with a far more malicious intention, Thee are known as Phishing emails. They're designed to steal login details, usually for bank or paypal accounts. Attackers will spoof emails pretending to be from your bank and then link you to "your" banks website, which is infact a clone of this website. You may not notice any difference but there is a simple script that logs every username and password entered on the page. This could then be used by an attacker.

All of these threats are very harmful and you should make sure you protect yourself correctly. By simply following the above steps you could stop your bank details from being stolen, your identity from being stolen, or other personal information.

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