How Can You Protect Your Computer?

http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Money/Pix/pictures/2010/9/17/1284725466071/Can-you-protect-your-comp-006.jpg

How to Protect Your Computer From Viruses/Spyware/Hackers

Since the Internet is a popular means of communication it is important to protect your computer from viruses, hackers and spyware. Viruses can delete files, hackers can retrieve personal information you have on your computer, advertisers can load programs that read and send them your passwords without your knowledge, and in some cases someone can actually access your computer and delete files that could render your computer unusable.

While most of the “behind the scenes” stuff that takes place as you surf the Internet are only targeted advertising, demographic data collection, or pranks, you should be aware of the potential problems and protect your computer. You can do this by making sure that you avoid programs that can install spyware without your knowledge, keep antivirus software installed and updated and keep security and critical patches updated by automating Windows Updates.

Spyware

What is Spyware?

Spyware (aka adware) refers to a category of software that, when installed on your computer, may send you pop-up ads, redirect your browser to certain websites, or monitor the websites that you visit. Some extreme, invasive versions of spyware may track exactly what keys you type (http://www.us-cert.gov/cas/tips/ST04-016.html).

How Do You Know if There is Spyware on Your Computer?

The following symptoms may indicate that spyware is installed on your computer:

  • Your computer suddenly seems very slow when opening programs or processing tasks (saving files, etc.).
  • You are subject to endless pop-up windows.
  • You are redirected to web sites other than the one you typed into your browser.
  • New, unexpected toolbars appear in your web browser.
  • New, unexpected icons appear in the task tray at the bottom of your screen.
  • Your browser’s home page suddenly changed.
  • The search engine your browser opens when you click “search” has been changed.
  • Certain keys fail to work in your browser (e.g., the tab key doesn’t work when you are moving to the next field within a form).
  • Random Windows error messages begin to appear.

How Can You Prevent Spyware from Installing on Your Computer?

To avoid unintentionally installing it yourself, follow these good security practices:

  • Don’t click on links within pop-up windows. Because pop-up windows are often a product of spyware, clicking on the window may install spyware software on your computer. To close the pop-up window, click on the “X” icon in the title bar instead of a “close” link within the window.
  • Choose “no” when asked unexpected questions – Be wary of unexpected dialog boxes asking whether you want to run a particular program or perform another type of task. Always select “no” or “cancel,” or close the dialog box by clicking the “X” icon in the title bar.
  • Be wary of free downloadable software – There are many sites that offer customized toolbars or other features that appeal to users.
  • Don’t download programs from sites you don’t trust, and realize that you may be exposing your computer to spyware by downloading some of these programs.
  • Don’t follow email links claiming to offer anti-spyware software like email viruses, the links may serve the opposite purpose and actually install the spyware it claims to be eliminating.

How Do You Remove Spyware?

  • Run a full scan on your computer with your anti-virus software – Some anti-virus software will find and remove spyware, but it may not find the spyware when it is monitoring your computer in real time. Set your anti-virus software to prompt you to run a full scan periodically.
  • Run a legitimate product specifically designed to remove spyware – Many vendors offer products that will scan your computer for spyware and remove any spyware software. Information Technology recommends using Spybot Search and Destroy. This software can be downloaded for free at this website: http://www.download.com/Spybot-Search-Destroy/3000-8022-10122137.html?part=dl-spybot&subj=dl&tag=but

Virus

What is a Virus?

A piece of programming code inserted into other programming to cause some unexpected and usually undesirable event, such as lost or damaged files. Viruses can be transmitted by downloading programs from other sites or be present on a diskette. You may be unaware that you have received a virus and may be spreading it as a virus can be dormant until something causes its code to be executed by the computer. Many Internet users have had their computers crash from viruses that attached to e-mails (www.nassaulibrary.org/valleyst/Glossary.htm).

How Do You Know if There is a Virus on Your Computer?

The following symptoms may indicate that a virus is installed on your computer:

  • Your computer seems sluggish or slow.
  • You can’t open specific programs on your computer.
  • Your Internet browser begins acting weird (ie, unexpectedly closes, won’t open at all, unable to go to any websites, etc).
  • Your computer reboots on its own.
  • Receive constant system error messages that an important file is missing or corrupt.

How Can You Prevent a Virus from Installing on Your Computer?

To avoid unintentionally installing it yourself, follow these good security practices:

  • Make sure that you have antivirus software installed on your computer.
  • Schedule weekly virus definition updates so that your software is able to catch the latest viruses.
  • Schedule weekly scans of your hard disks so that the software can find viruses before it infects your system.
  • Make sure that automatic protection is enabled so that the program is constantly looking for viruses as soon as you turn on your computer.
  • Make sure that the program is compatible with your email program so that it can immediately detect and block viruses in email attachments.

How Do You Remove Viruses?

Micorosoft Security Essentials is provided for free at: http://www.microsoft.com/security_essentials

  • Run a full scan on your computer with your antivirus software. If a virus is detected your antivirus software will either clean, delete or quarantine the file.
  • If the virus can’t be removed by your antivirus software you can find removal tools specific to the type of virus by going to the software manufacturer website (ie, McAfee, Symantec, etc).

Windows Update

What is Windows Update?

A Microsoft website that provides updates for Windows operating system software and Windows-based hardware. Updates address known issues and help protect against known security threats.

How Does it Work?

When you visit the website, Windows Update scans your computer and tells you which updates apply to your software and hardware. You choose the updates that you want to install and how to install them.

How Can You Update Your Computer?

If you turn on Automatic Updates, Windows Update can deliver high priority updates to your computer as they become available. You can decide when and how updates are installed. To turn on Automatic Updates follow these instructions:

  • Right click on My Computer and then click on Properties.
  • Click on the Automatic Updates tab.
  • Then choose the recommended option for installing the updates.
http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-images-antivirus-image9477469

Tips for protecting your computer from viruses

Protecting your computer from viruses and other threats isn’t difficult, but you have to be diligent. Here are some actions you can take:

  • Install an antivirus program. Installing an antivirus program and keeping it up to date can help defend your computer against viruses. Antivirus programs scan for viruses trying to get into your email, operating system, or files. New viruses appear daily, so set your antivirus software to install updates automatically.

  • Don’t open email attachments unless you’re expecting them. Many viruses are attached to email messages and will spread as soon as you open the email attachment. It’s best not to open any attachment unless it’s something you’re expecting. For more information, see When to trust an email message.

  • Keep your computer updated. Microsoft releases security updates that can help protect your computer. Make sure that Windows receives these updates by turning on Windows automatic updating. For more information, see Turn automatic updating on or off.

  • Use a firewall.‌ Windows Firewall (or any other firewall) can help alert you to suspicious activity if a virus or worm attempts to connect to your computer. It can also block viruses, worms, and hackers from attempting to download potentially harmful programs to your computer.

  • Use your browser’s privacy settings. Being aware of how websites might use your private information is important to help prevent fraud and identity theft. If you’re using Internet Explorer, you can adjust your Privacy settings or restore the default settings whenever you want. For details, see Change Internet Explorer 9 privacy settings.

  • Use a pop-up blocker with your browser. Pop-up windows are small browser windows that appear on top of the website you’re viewing. Although most are created by advertisers, they can also contain malicious or unsafe code. A pop-up blocker can prevent some or all of these windows from appearing.

    The Pop-up Blocker feature in Internet Explorer is turned on by default. To learn more about changing its settings or turning it on and off, see Change Internet Explorer 9 privacy settings.

  • Turn on User Account Control (UAC). When changes are going to be made to your computer that require administrator-level permission, UAC notifies you and gives you the opportunity to approve the change. UAC can help keep viruses from making unwanted changes. To learn more about turning on UAC and adjusting the settings, see Turn User Account Control on or off.

Protect Your Computer

http://thejcr.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/1309_Computer.jpg

Install a firewall

A firewall is a software program or piece of hardware that blocks hackers from entering and using your computer. Hackers search the Internet in much the same way that some telemarketers automatically dial random phone numbers. Hackers send electronic probes, or pings, to thousands of computers and wait for responses. Firewalls prevent your computer from responding to these random pings. A firewall blocks communications to and from sources you don’t permit. This is especially important if you have a high-speed Internet connection, such as DSL or cable.

Some operating systems have built-in firewalls that may be shipped in the “off” mode. Therefore:

  • Be sure to turn your firewall on.
  • Ensure your firewall is set up properly and updated regularly.
  • Check your online “Help” feature for specific instructions.

Use anti-virus software

Anti-virus software protects your computer from viruses that can destroy your data, slow down or crash your computer, or allow spammers to send e-mail through your account. Anti-virus protection scans your computer and your incoming e-mail for viruses, and deletes them.

  • Keep your anti-virus software updated to cope with the latest bugs circulating the Internet. Most anti-virus software includes a feature to download updates automatically when you are online.
  • Make sure your anti-virus software is continually running and checking your system for viruses, especially if you are downloading files from the Web or checking your e-mail.
  • Set your anti-virus software to check for viruses when you first turn on your computer.
  • Give your system a thorough scan at least twice a month.
  • Take advantage of Norton’s offer specifically designed for Intuit customers.

Use anti-spyware software

Spyware is software installed without your knowledge or consent. It can monitor your online activities and collect personal information while you surf the Web. Some kinds of spyware, called keyloggers, record everything you type in – including your passwords and financial information. Your computer may be infected with spyware if you receive a sudden flurry of pop-up ads, are taken to Web sites you don’t want to go to, or if your computer begins to run slowly.

Spyware protection is included in some anti-virus software programs.

  • Check your anti-virus software documentation for instructions on how to activate the spyware protection features. You can also buy separate anti-spyware software programs.
  • Keep your anti-spyware software updated and run it regularly.
  • Download software only from sites you know and trust. Piggybacking spyware can be an unseen cost of many “free” programs.
  • Don’t click on links in pop-up windows or in spam e-mail.

Manage your system and browser to protect your privacy

Hackers are constantly trying to find flaws or holes in operating systems and browsers.

  • To protect your computer and the information on it, ensure your security settings in your system and browser are set at medium or higher. Check the Tools or Options menus for how to do this.
  • Update your system and browser regularly, taking advantage of automatic updating when it’s available. Windows Update is a service offered by Microsoft. It will download and install software updates to the Microsoft Windows operating system, Internet Explorer, and Outlook Express. It will also deliver security updates to you. Patching can also be run automatically for other systems, such as the Macintosh operating system.

Secure your wireless network

If you use a wireless network in your home, take precautions to secure it against hackers. Encrypting wireless communications is the first step.

  • Choose a wireless router with an encryption feature and turn it on. WPA encryption is considered stronger than WEP. Your computer, router, and other equipment must use the same encryption.
  • Consider disabling identifier broadcasting if your router enables it.
  • Note the name assigned to your Wi-Fi network. This name – called an SSID, or Service Set IDentifier – lets you connect your computers to the network manually. The SSID is often the equipment maker’s name.
  • Change the SSID on your router and the pre-set administrative password. Hackers know the pre-set passwords on many wireless routers.
  • Consider turning off your wireless network when you’re not using it.

Remember that public hot spots may not be secure.

  • Avoid accessing or sending sensitive personal information over a public wireless network.

Protecting Your Computer from Unwelcome Intruders.

http://www.studiesinwesterntapestry.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/antivirus-for-computers1.png

When you’re online, you expose your vulnerability to malicious virus that have been growing in virulence and ferocity over the last few years. These program codes have gone beyond mere annoyances with the worst kinds disabling your PC, but they have become portals for remotely perpetuating more sinister activity that can clandestinely hack into sites, mount denial of services or steal confidential and personal data for fraudulent financial gain at your expense.

Are these virus serious enough to cause losses? Among home PC users, you may think having to reinstall your OS after a virus or malware has brought it down is not really expensive as you lose just a day or two to reinstall your programs and rebuilding files, consider that in a business, you could actually lose millions. Just ask ChoicePoint when it took a $6 million charge in 2005 after cyber criminals hacked into their systems and stole sensitive data from thousands of customers. Or the credit card processor CardSystems Solutions which may yet go out of business from major security breach at the company’s Tucson, Arizona, operations center. In a recent consumer survey among security breach victims, people don’t take lightly the loss of their data. More than 60% of respondents indicated their plans to terminate business relationships with a company that lost the data they entrusted to them.

In 2004, rootkits were a relatively obscure form of Trojans meant to infect Unix computers. But by 2005, rootkits have become a mainstream security threat after Sony BMG Music Entertainment shipped a few million CDs that contained a rootkit among its copy protection scheme. Within a few months, Sony recalled the CDs, but it was too late, According to security experts, rootkits attacking Windows PC were here to stay.

The 2011 Norton Cybercrime Report reveals that there were 431 million global cybercrime victims who lost $388 billion in real money losses and computer time. This is a lot more compared to the estimated $288 billion in revenues from the black markets for cocaine, heroin and illegal drug trades combined. For sure, not all of these losses were incurred due to Trojans, worms, viruses, rootkits and malware. But when you consider that roughly 4.3% of cybercrimes involve damages to PC resulting from online downloads of infected content over the internet, you are looking at a computed $17 billion in annual losses due to malware and virus infection.

What can I do to protect myself from computer viruses and Trojans?

These days, practically everyone’s online, downloading and exchanging files, and developers are in such a hurry to get their Web sites up or their files out that checking for a nasty bug is more of a courtesy than a requirement. If you’re not careful, your computer can end up with a nasty virus that makes your files act oddly, crashes your computer, pops up bizarre messages, or worst of all, destroys your operating system.

A computer virus is the most subtle of computer problems. It usually loads itself into your computer system when you run a program to which it has attached itself. From the computer system, it’ll then reproduce itself, much like a biological virus would, by attaching copies of itself to other programs on your hard drive. What it does then depends on the malevolence of its creator. Some viruses are nothing more than a practical joke. They may bring up a message like “Merry Xmas” or melt your display. Most of them though, either start destroying your system or your files immediately or on a date specified by their creators—like the much-publicized Michelangelo virus, which erases important pieces of your system on March 6. “Trojan horse” programs are similar to viruses in their effect on your system, but they can’t reproduce themselves. They’re usually a program disguised as something you might want to download onto your computer—for instance, a rogue, modified version of PKWare’s PKZIP utility. But when you run the new program you just found, it can do anything from popping up a message to erasing your hard disk, as the rogue PKZIP utility really did.

In either case, you have to actually launch the infected program or the trojan horse for it to infiltrate your system. Though hoax e-mails, like the one about the “Good Times” virus try to make you believe otherwise, neither a virus nor a trojan horse program can do anything if you simply leave the malevolent file sitting on your hard drive.

Finding out that you copied a trojan horse onto your computer is remarkably easy. You launch the program, and the next thing you know, something completely unexpected happens—maybe your system is gone or your computer is laughing maniacally at you. But unless you notice your computer acting oddly before the virus has done its worst damage, you may very well not know you have it until it’s too late.

Protect Yourself

There are a few basic rules that computer users should follow to short-circuit viruses. The best known bit of advice is this: Never open any attachment unless you know who it’s from and why they are sending it. Refusing to open unsolicited e-mail of any kind is the only sure-fire way to sidestep all forms of trouble.

Anti-virus software is crucial to preventing virus attacks, but this strategy only works if users update their software.Unfortunately, ‘keeping it current’ means updating it weekly, at least but most products today allow one to automate this process, but file downloads can be large and slow.

Factors to consider when buying an anti-virus package include cost, quality of tech support, how frequently the package self-updates and the platforms supported by the program.

Common sense is another good weapon in the fight against viruses. Be wary of opening any email attachments, even from your firends , especially if it has been forwarded to them.Set up your anti-virus product so that it automatically scans incoming e-mail and avoiding e-mail software that allows automatic launching of attachments.

If all of this sounds like a lot of work, it is. There is always a tradeoff between ease of use and security but the extra time you spend updating your anti-virus software now will save you hours of time and buckets of frustration later.If you don’t keep it updated, you might was well be completely unprotected.

Prevention

Like sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), computer viruses existed prior to the popularity of the Internet, but as with the sexual revolution of the ’70s, viruses have flourished with the widespread sharing of information. And, much like the efforts to control STDs, controlling computer viruses is to be done through education and practicing safe hex (a play on words which means to perform certain measures to protect your computer).

1. Be sure do a full back up of your system on a regular basis. The best way to clean up an infected file is to replace it with an original non-infected file. Not to mention the grief a current back up will save if a virus takes your system completely down. It’s also a good idea to keep more than one set of backup in case the current one is infected before the virus is detected.

2. Always use an anti-virus software program, one with both an on-demand and an on-access scanner. You’ll want to look for one that has a fairly complete database of viruses and that is updateable. New viruses are produced daily, so it’s important to have software that can detect the latest threat.

Be sure to read the manual and follow the directions of the software program to ensure it’s protecting you properly. Also, consider buying and using two different brands to be doubly protected. See our review of anti-virus programs.

3. Update the virus database in your anti-virus program regularly (each month or by the direction of the manufacturer).

4. On a PC, change the CMOS setting of your boot up process from booting first on the A drive (floppy) and then on the C drive (hard drive) to just booting on the C drive. This will not only speed up your boot up process but also completely eliminate the risk of infecting your hard drive with an infected floppy disk.

If you should need to boot from a floppy you can easily change the settings back and reboot from the A drive. Please note: an infected non-bootable floppy disk can just as easily infect your hard drive as would an infected bootable one.

5. Don’t allow your web browser to automatically run programs, such as MS Word or other programs through its e-mail program. Configure your browser to launch WordPad or Notepad instead. One of the biggest and growing threats is the macro virus, which is spread through data processing and spread sheet programs

6. Configure your web browsers to disable ActiveX, Java, and Javascript. You’ll lose some of the fun the Web’s been known for, but you’ll save your computer from contracting a virus and speed up your connection.

7. Know that the only way a virus spreads is either by launching an infected file or by booting an infected disk. You can not get a virus by simply being online or by reading e-mail. You have to download and launch an infected file before it will spread. Therefore, do not launch any unsolicited executable files sent via e-mail.

8. Using an updated anti-virus program, scan all new software for viruses before installing them on your hard drive. Even shrink-wrapped software from major publishers has been known to contain viruses.

9. Be aware of hoaxes. To increase mass hysteria, there have been many stories conjured up and spread by unknowledgeable users. For a list of known hoaxes check out the following site: http://www.symantec.com/business/security_response/threatexplorer/risks/hoaxes.jsp

Viruses are not the only type of programs that are written solely to cripple computer systems or to use a computer in an unauthorized way. Other malicious programs are Logic Bombs, Trojan Horses, and Worms.

Help on the Web

The Virus Bulletin (www.virusbtn.com) offers a list of viruses that are floating through the computer world at present. The site also offers the opportunity to report viruses, should you be unfortunate enough to encounter a new one firsthand.

If your computer is not on a network, and you never, ever install new programs or download files from the Internet or open email enclosures, you don’t have to worry about viruses. But that’s like living in a sealed bubble. Most of us have to go out into public every day, where we’re subject to the germs carried by others (though natural immunities will usually protect us from most of them.) Likewise, most people also have to update their software and are interested in communication and information from others. Luckily, there are some preventions and cures for even the nastiest of viruses.

See Anti-virus Programs

 

How can I help protect my computer from viruses?

http://www.reviversoft.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Malware.png

Protecting your computer from viruses and other threats isn’t difficult, but you have to be diligent.

  • Install an antivirus program. Installing an antivirus program and keeping it up-to-date can help defend your computer against viruses. Antivirus programs scan for viruses trying to get into your email, operating system, or files. New viruses can appear daily, so check the antivirus manufacturer’s website frequently for updates. Some antivirus programs are sold with annual subscriptions that can be renewed as needed, but many are also available for free. Microsoft offers Microsoft Security Essentials, a free antivirus program you can download from the Microsoft Security Essentials website. You can also visit the Windows Security software providers webpage to find a third-party antivirus program.

  • Don’t open email messages from unfamiliar senders, or email attachments that you don’t recognize. Many viruses are attached to email messages and will spread as soon as you open the email attachment. It’s best not to open any attachment unless it is something you are expecting. Microsoft‌ Outlook and Windows Mail help block potentially dangerous attachments.

  • Use a pop-up blocker with your browser. Pop-up windows are small browser windows that appear on top of the website you’re viewing. Although most are created by advertisers, they can also contain malicious or unsafe code. A pop-up blocker can prevent some or all of these windows from appearing.

    The Pop-up Blocker feature in Internet Explorer is turned on by default. To learn more about changing its settings or turning it on and off, see Internet Explorer Pop-up Blocker: frequently asked questions.

  • Keep Windows updated. Periodically, Microsoft releases special security updates that can help protect your computer. These updates can help prevent viruses and other computer attacks by closing possible security holes. Make sure that Windows receives these updates by turning on Windows automatic updating. To learn how, see Turn automatic updating on or off.

  • Use a firewall.‌ Windows Firewall or any other firewall program can help alert you to suspicious activity if a virus or worm attempts to connect to your computer. It can also block viruses, worms, and hackers from attempting to download potentially harmful programs to your computer. To learn more about Windows Firewall, see Understanding Windows Firewall settings.

  • Use your browser’s privacy settings. Being aware of how websites might use your private information is important to help prevent targeted advertising, fraud, and identity theft. If you’re using Internet Explorer, you can adjust your Privacy settings or restore the default settings whenever you want. For details, see Change Internet Explorer Privacy settings.

  • Turn on User Account Control (UAC). When changes are going to be made to your computer that require administrator-level permission, UAC notifies you and gives you the opportunity to approve the change. UAC can help keep viruses from making unwanted changes. To learn more about enabling UAC and adjusting the settings, see Turn User Account Control on or off.

  • Clear your Internet cache and your browsing history. Most browsers store information about the websites you visit, and information that websites might ask you to provide (such as your name and address). While it can be helpful to have these details stored on your computer, there are times when you might want to delete some or all of them, for example when you’re using a public computer and don’t want to leave personal information behind. To learn how to clean up your history in Internet Explorer, see Delete webpage history and Delete your Internet cookies.