How to protect yourself from hackers and viruses
and spyware, Oh my!
are many dangers in running an unprotected computer and
awareness of the dangers and vigilance can insure continued peaceful
and unhindered use of your PC. By implementing the measures indicated
here, you can achieve computer internet security.
1. Intruder on my computer
– The Internet is simply a big network where computers talk to other
computers. Any computer has a unique address that can be expressed as a
series of 4 numbers (such as 184.108.40.206). Communications from other
computers to yours use your address like a phone number.
your address is not blocked, hackers can use special programs to
connect to your computer and get into it. They can then read and modify
information, or even install and run malicious programs. You only want
contact with other systems and parties where you initiated the contact
or specifically allow to contact you first.
2. Viruses, Trojan horses and worms
– These are programs that perform operations that are harmful to your
computer. The damage could be minor and irritating such as putting up a
silly message. However, the damage can also be very serious. The virus,
Trojan horse or worm can damage and destroy all data and programs on
the system. It can also enable identity theft by providing personal
information to some external party. Some viruses, Trojans or worms can
also capture all the owner’s keystrokes and monitor all the user’s
activity to discover all the owner’s passwords. They can turn the
computer into a robot to perform some activities on command such as
attacking other computers without the owner even knowing about it. Webopedia
has more details about viruses, Trojan horses and worms.
– Spyware is computer software that is installed secretly on a personal
computer to intercept or take partial control over the user's
interaction with the computer, without the user's informed consent.
the term spyware suggests software that secretly monitors the user's
behavior, the functions of spyware extend well beyond simple
monitoring. Spyware programs can collect various types of personal
information, but can also interfere with the user’s control of the
computer in other ways, such as installing additional software,
redirecting Web browser activity, popping annoying advertisements or
diverting advertising revenue to a third party.
See Wikipedia's discussion
They are generally intrusive and slow down the
performance of your computer.
– Spam is any form of unrequested message. Its most common form is
undesirable email. Spam can contain pornographic material, unsolicited
business offers which are usually scams, and phony stock information.
content is a special form of spam (according to legislation, phishing
refers to a person or a group of cyber-criminals who create an
imitation or copy of an existing legitimate Web page to trick users
into providing sensitive personal information). For example, you might
receive an email from a bank stating that your account will be shut
down if you do not provide certain information. The email will provide
a link which will open a web page. The information requested on the
page will be sensitive financial information. Although the email may
look like it comes from a legitimate bank, it actually comes from
thieves hoping to steal your assets and/or identity. Responding to
"phishing" emails put your accounts at risk.
The first order of business is to adopt
safe computing practices.
Keep your operating system up to date
by applying the latest fixes provided by the vendor. These fixes are
created to stop various flaws in the system that a hacker could exploit.
Don’t open attachments of emails from
people that you don’t know. Don’t even open attachments from
people that you do know unless you are sure they sent it to you.
Don’t install questionable software or
games that you are unsure about from websites or people that
can’t absolutely be trusted.
Never provide confidential financial or
personal information in response to an email. Directly
contact the sender yourself to verify that the request is legitimate.
1. Intruder on my computer
– The best remedy against intruders is to implement firewall security.
A firewall will hide your computer from hackers in the same way that an
unlisted number protects you from undesirable phone calls.
best firewall is a hardware firewall which can be provided by a simple
box called a router. A firewall will change the address of each of your
computers to one that can only be reached locally by computers on your
own private network (this means all the computers that attach to the
router and only connect to the outside world via the router). This
provides your computer with something like an unlisted number. When
they access your main public address, which is now the address of the
router, they will get a “nobody here” response. The local addresses are
designed so that they can’t be reached directly from outside. Thus,
hackers can’t find you or get to you.
To learn more about routers see Computer Network Components
A software firewall
is a program that runs on your computer that accomplishes the same
functions as a hardware router. It pays to turn on a software firewall
in addition to a hardware firewall because it checks outgoing traffic
and stops what's going out of your computer or private network that
wasn’t sent out with your direct involvement and permission. If a
malware ( bad or malicious program such as a virus or Trojan horse)
program managed to get on your computer, it might try to communicate
with the people that planted the malware on your computer.
The software firewall would prevent this.
2. Viruses, Trojan horses and worms
– Anti virus programs provide protection against these threats. The
program should have the ability to scan in various ways without using
up so much of your computer’s power to do this that it slows down
everything else that is going on.
It should be able to do a
full scan of your system memory and all your files on a predefined
schedule or on demand, scan your fileswhen you receive them, scan your
files when you access them, and scan specified files on demand. The
program should update itself with the latest threat information as
3. Spyware – Spyware cleaner
detect all forms of spyware and offer the option for real time
protection. It should be kept up to date regularly. It should also
inform you of the level of risk of the spyware detected and offer you
options for dealing with it.
4. Spam – Internet providers
currently provide spam filtering as part of their service. For an
additional level of protection, anti spam software provides spam
control via content analysis, black lists (lists of senders to reject),
white lists (list of senders not to block) and automatic capture of
spam-like messages to a special folder that the user can review.
maximum security you need a hardware firewall on a router, a software
firewall that scans outgoing data, a good anti-virus program, and at
least one anti-spyware program. These should be set to periodically
check the manufacturer's website for updates and automatically install
said updates if possible.
The best way to provide computer
security software based protection is Internet Security Suite
software. This is a coordinated collection of anti-virus, anti-spyware,
anti-spam and firewall software plus other features that are built to
I use Kaspersky
Internet Security 2009
which provides state
the art protection against Internet security threats.
It also has a light footprint and does not system performance
very much. It really does a very good job.
Bitdefender used to be my first choice but I've discovered a
shortcomings that have driven it from the top spot. I detail the Bitdefender problems that I have
encountered in a post on my blog.
addition to all of the above it is crucial to adopt safe computing
practices. Microsoft has detailed information about this here: Microsoft safe
from Computer Internet Security to Computer Security
from Computer Internet Security to Ask the Computer Doc home.