Protecting your computer from malware or malicious software is perhaps one of the most important aspects of computer ownership. Malware is software specifically designed to damage, disrupt, steal confidential information, destroy data and in general inflict some illegitimate action on data, host computers or networks.
Securing your computer may seem like a daunting task in the beginning, but fortunately there are few simple steps that every computer user should follow to ensure security. But, before you take the necessary measures to securing your computer, you should understand the different types of attacks that could harm your computer. Some common threats to computers include Viruses, Trojans, Spyware, Worms, Rootkit, Phishing and Spam. Let's talk about how all the different malware can harm your computer.
Virus - Type of malware that multiplies by inserting copies of itself into other computer programs. When the program is executed, the virus is launched and will attempt to spread to other computers.
Trojans - can trick users by posing as legitimate applications. For example, they may appear to be a game or a screensaver. A deceived user will release the Trojan horse when downloading and executing the program.
Worms - are similar to viruses in that they replicate themselves exponentially. Since they gobble up so much of the bandwidth, it can cause networks to crash.
Spyware - attempts to gather information and sends it to a third party. If you notice that your internet home page has suddenly changed or your web browser re-directs web searches or additional software has been installed on your computer, it could be infected with spyware.
Adware - is a form of Spyware that launches pop-up windows to display unwanted advertisements.
Phishing - is the act of attempting to acquire information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details. Users are often sent to fake websites to enter confidential information.
Keyloggers - allow keyboard keystrokes and also screens to be captured. Malicious individuals may use Keyloggers to steal passwords and credit card information.
Spam - Spamming is the use of electronic messaging systems to send unsolicited bulk messages, especially advertising, indiscriminately.
Computer security can be quite daunting at first, but relax - here is a partial list of things you can do to provide good security to your computer.
- Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software and keep it up-to-date. Make sure your anti-virus program is set to update automatically so that you don't have to rely on your memory to do it.
- Install security patches - Check and apply updates to all software you use. For Windows updates, use the 'Windows Update Center'
- Use a Firewall - It can protect your computer by preventing hackers or malicious software from gaining access to it. It puts a protective barrier between your computer and the internet.
- Install the latest version of the Web Browser that your Operating System will support, since it contains security fixes and new features for protection. You should also always download and install the latest updates to the browser you have loaded.
- Use caution when opening e-mail attachments. Never open attachments from someone you don't know. Emails are a primary source of virus infection. Delete emails from random people.
- Guard your personal information carefully. Beware of Phishing scams where the user is directed to a fake website and asked to enter confidential information.
- Only click links in e-mail messages that you trust.
- Don't be fooled by emails telling sad stories, making job offers or promising lotto winnings.
- Only install add-ons from websites that you trust.