Viruses, Rootkits and Spyware
You would never imagine leaving your new car unattended in streets where known car thieves operate, yet when it comes to your computer many do something very similar.
Unprotected computers are an easy target for viruses and other infections found online as we happily, or sometimes accidentally, share some of our most valuable and personal information online.
Malware has been around since the early days of personal computers, but as our computers have become smarter, so has malware. Whilst there are a few different types of malware, they have something in common with each other. They both try to burrow themselves into your computer undetected and they can also stop updates for your security tools.
Viruses can typically spread via emails, but they can also materialise into infected files and downloads. Viruses, known as worms, can easily spread by taking advantage of your computer’s security flaws.They can even be transferred via USB sticks and portable hard drives.
These viruses and worms usually have a payload and one of the most unpleasant is called the Rootkit. A Rootkit gives someone else remote access to your computer, which then could lead to flooding your computer with more malware.
In addition to Rootkit, there’s a payload called Spyware. This sits on your PC and is able to watch what you do. Whether this is your credit card information or the websites you visit.
Spyware doesn’t travel as a singular, if you have a spyware on your computer then you more than likely have dozens of similar infections.
To fight Malware, the are a number of ways in which you can go about it such as having the most up to date Windows updates and also have the more recent versions of Internet Explorer. The malware can take full advantage of security holes that have been closed for a while. Next, install Security software that is inexpensive. But which ever software you decide to choose, just make sure that the software is up to date as it becomes almost worthless against new and more powerful malware.
The features within Windows itself shouldn’t be overlooked as Windows Defender can help keep the viruses from infecting your computers. This software tool can check for the infected worms and Internet Explorer can warn you of potential unsafe websites and suspected malware.
Opening unsolicited emails and email attachments should be approached with caution and you should not download files that you’re not completely sure about. You’re more likely to come across malware on dodgy download sites, but emails are the number 1 form of viral spam.
ID Theft and Data Loss
The more that we do digitally, the bigger the risk of the data that can be lost, from human error or hardware failure. To try and prevent this, it’s best to have one or more copies on disk or hard drives. Blank disks and external hard drives are reasonably cheap and the backup features that are in Windows are very easy to use. There’s an online back up service such as Mozy.co.uk that can use to store your data on servers faraway which costs around £5 per month.
Phishing is an horrendous scam that can trick people into handing over their personal information like their online banking details. Fraudsters do this by sending emails that appear to be from Paypal, Ebay or another institution and the email will ask you to confirm by clicking on links or to confirm your details. Banks will never email you and ask for your passwords or ask you to fill out forms with your information. If you do feel as though your details have been compromised then don’t click links within the email, but call your branch.
The acceleration of Facebook’s popularity has even led to Facebook scams. Some are as simple as getting you to like a picture before being able to view it. This allows these fraudsters to be able to access your profile and, with that, gain your personal information.
A good precaution is to limit the data that you post on social networks. Data that is really useful for fraudsters are: your date of birth, your postal address and your contact numbers.
Facebook settings are something to be aware of because the site regularly changes and makes previously private information public.
The tricks to being able to stay safe on social networks is to be aware of the settings, keeping personal data to a minimum, not to accept friend requests from people you don’t know, don’t click on links or install applications that seem unusual and be careful on what you post to social networks.
If you’d like to invest in smart home security, which uses the online world to protect you and your home, just check out our home automation page.