How to protect your computer from virus, worms etc
What are the main threats for computer users?
Trojan horses, viruses, worms, and other malware
Trojan horses – This looks like a screen saver, game, song etc. However once you have downloaded and opened it your computer can have its main programmes rewritten or deleted causing your computer to crash. Most anti-virus software will help stop Trojan horses. Scan anything you download before opening it.
Viruses – Once a virus enters your computer it will copy itself again and often email itself to everyone on your email list therefore spreading itself to all those computers to repeat the process. Many of these are forwarded in email or Microsoft word programmes. Viruses are activated when someone clicks on an attachment in an email or in a Microsoft word programme.
Now these are harder to remove once they get into your computer system and like worms they copy themselves and try to move into another computer system. A worm doesn’t need you to open it from what I’ve been led to believe and will actively try to move a copy of itself from your computer onto someone else’s computer who is running the same programme it is using to attach itself to.
Malware – A lot of malware hides the tracks of people who are entering your system. Some malware allow the attacker to completely take over your system. These don’t normally copy and resend themselves but they can get into your system from a worm virus. Some hackers use this to make your system into what is called a zombie system. This means they can tell your computer to do tasks that will attack main networks and therefore the attack will be followed back to you and the other zombie computer users.
Phishing and Identity theft
This is when someone sends emails to many different addresses hoping for a response. Many phishing scams are either to get hold of your bank details or to get hold of your identity details. The stats are that around 5% of these phishing emails get a response. So please take care and protect yourself, your bank details and your identity.
Bank details - your name, your account number/s, passwords, date of birth, credit card details, secret answers to questions asked. This means they can clear out your accounts, change your passwords and pin numbers and limit out any credit cards you have.
Identity details – your name, address, date of birth, drivers licence number, place of birth, IRD or Social security number, mother’s maiden name, with this info someone can get a copy of your birth certificate then get a driver’s licence with their photo and your name. From here if you gave them your bank details they can clean you out or they can get themselves a bank card to your accounts. They can use your name if they commit a crime. Identity theft is truly scary stuff.
You could receive an email from your bank stating there has been a break-in and they want you to verify your account. If you click on the site it looks real but it is a site that has been created for the sole purpose of collecting your account information and passwords. Banks never do this Always go to your banks site from your favourites or bookmark never click on an email link to go there unless you have just created your account and you need to verify your email address. Please note the bank will only state your email has been verified.
In New Zealand there is also a phishing scam to do with rental homes. The renter is always a person who is out of the country for some reason or other and will send you a form asking for your full name, date of birth, where you were born, bank account details, details of family members who are going to live with you etc. Don’t give out your personal info as this person will be able to use it to clear out your bank accounts or sell this information to someone (Identity theft) who can become you and create masses of debts in your name. Worse you could end up finding you’re wanted for crimes you didn’t commit.
There is also many phishing scams where you’re told someone left you money or asking you to help someone to release money from someone that has passed away leaving no relatives. Don’t fall for these scams as again they will require your full name and your bank account details. Many of them also ask for you to send money to a certain account to be able to release the money to you etc.
Social engineering or Pretexting
This is normally engineered to get information from companies. If someone says there from I.T and need to log onto your computer to fix it they will have their own log on name and password so don’t give them yours. Many times this person will say they are new and forgot to bring their log in details and will be fired if they don’t complete their job. If they are from I.T. they should be able to get their log in info with a simple phone call so again don’t give out your info. If you do give out your personal info it could be used to retrieve sensitive info or to corrupt the computer systems and it will look like you did it once I.T. have backtracked and fixed the problems. Some people will also use the info you give them to connect to your computer remotely and copy every keystroke you make. Either way this could cause the end of your career.
Another ploy is to try and get you to share entry codes to buildings or areas. Again the person will normally state that they either need to deliver something or that they forgot their code and will be fired if they don’t get in to do whatever. Don’t let anyone into any area unless you personally know them. Tell them they will have to ring up and get the info they need. Never give anyone the codes to any area. Remember this is your career on the line if you give out this information to the wrong person.
Another ploy is to pretend to be one of the big bosses and to phone you asking for your details or threatening you to get them. In this case it is harder to just say no so asking questions (full name, employee number, this week’s password etc.) or saying that you will call them on their extension is a safer practice. This gives you time to check if this person is in today or to hand over to someone who knows this persons voice. Always try to cover yourself and don’t give out your log in info.
So how do you protect yourself and your computer?
You need a good antivirus programme for a start. Everyone has their favourites and many of us need the programmes that are not only good but are also free. So if this sounds like what you need here are a few to choose from
Windows Live OneCare
Most antivirus programmes can be set to update themselves each week and to scan the computer each day or week. It is best to set this for a time the computer will be on but not in use.
If your online a lot you may need to run one of these programmes daily … If you don’t spend as much time online then I would suggest running the programme at least once a week.
Spybot Search and Destroy
Again you can set most of these programmes to update and scan your computer during low use time periods.
A firewall watches outgoing traffic and can help identify spyware. It does this by tracking applications that send your personal information out over the Internet to anywhere else.
Zone Labs ZoneAlarm
Comodo Personal Firewall
If you don’t have a firewall then you should install one of the above personal firewalls on your computer. Normally after it has been installed the first time any program tries to access the Internet your firewall will ask you if the programme is allowed to do so including your internet server so make sure you have no spyware or viruses on your computer beforehand.
A few more ways to protect your computer
You should set your outlook so that it doesn’t automatically download emails and pictures etc. You will still be able to view them but they won’t be saved to your system which means if there is a virus or worm attached to one of them you won’t download it when you view your email.
You should also never click links in emails even from friends unless you’re sure they are not created by a worm. This is easy to do by letting your friends know if an email from you or to you hasn’t got a message including their name or nickname then you won’t click it or you didn’t send it and it could be an automated virus from an infected system. Many of these automated email viruses say things like check this out and then there is a link which is the virus.
Also only give your main outlook email to close family and friends. It is best to use a secondary email address for most contacts. There are many free ones out there like
Disc cleaning and Defragmenting
You should do both of these at least once a month.
Click - start – All programmes – Accessories – System tools – Disk Cleanup.
Click - start – All programmes – Accessories – System tools – Disc Defragmenter.