Viruses and Malware (MALicious softWARE)

December 8, 2009

Unfortunately, viruses are becoming more commonplace on PC’s in recent years. One reason is the fact that almost everything we now do on a PC involves being connected to the internet. Email, web browsing, youtube videos, facebook, twitter; they all require internet access.  And the internet is a really easy way for these viruses and malicious programs to get into your PC.

But what is in it for the writers and distributors of these malicious programs? Money, that’s the reason. Viruses and malware generate large sums of money for these “Internet crooks”.

  • Our PC’s can be scanned by “Spyware” for bank or credit card account numbers, and associated passwords, so the crooks can empty our bank accounts before we even notice.
  • The keys we press on our keyboard can be intercepted by a “Keystroke logger” that tries to find out our passwords.
  • Malicious programs can be put onto our PC’s without our knowledge claiming they are an “Anti Virus” program that has found lots of “virus infections”. And if we pay to upgrade the Anti Virus program it can clean the PC for us. In actual fact it is this new “Anti Virus” program that is the virus, and paying for the program upgrade will not cure the problem, it just gives the crooks our credit card details so they can go on a spending spree.
  • Our PC can be taken over by “bots” (a web robot) that can use our PC to send out thousands of email spam messages, which can then be used to defraud the unsuspecting recipients.
  • Our web searches can be intercepted by “adware” pop-ups trying to make us buy our goods from a certain seller (who probably is not a reputable company), or redirect us to web sites containing malicious programs
  • Our PC can be fooled into taking us to “phishing” web sites, that claim to be our bank, credit card, or Paypal account, but are actually a bogus web site just trying to capture our logon details.

So what can we do about it? Well, prevention is better than trying to “lock the stable door after the horse has bolted”. We at ASL recommend the following:

  • Ensure your PC has a resutable Anti Virus program installed. We recommend AVG and Avira anti virus programs. Both companies offer free versions for home PC users, and paid for products for business use
  • Ensure that your Windows Firewall is turned on
  • Use a “router” not a broadband modem to connect to the internet. With a router your PC is given extra protection from being hacked into from the internet.
  • Be vigilant and be very careful when opening emails with attachments from people you do not know (the attachments could be a virus)
  • Do not follow links in emails asking you to confirm your bank details.
  • Do not use peer to peer file sharing programs such as “limewire”. These types of programs make your PC incredibly vunerable to virus attacks.

If you do get infected with a virus, don’t panic. The best advice is to turn the PC off, and then get the assistance of a reputable local IT support company to “clean up” your PC.

Chris Moody
ASL Computer Services


The Problem of Viruses

January 28, 2007

With more and more PC’s being connected to the Internet on a permanent basis via broadband, and also networked together within your office or home the spread of viruses has become a major problem.

If you connect any PC without any protection to the Internet via broadband it can become infected with viruses within a matter of hours. Quite a scary thought.

A virus infected PC may cause you a number of problems:

  • It may infect your other PC’s in your office or home 
  • It can delete or corrupt your data and documents
  • It could damage Windows itself which may necessitate a repair or
    re-installation of the operating system 
  • Often viruses will search your PC for email addresses and then
    send itself to those people without your knowledge, thereby
    infecting your friends, customers, and suppliers machines with
    the same virus 
  • It may make your PC run slowly, which means every task you do takes longer

So how do you protect your PC?

  • Ensure you have a reputable Anti Virus program installed and that it has not expired
  • If your PC is for home use (not business) there are Anti virus programs available totally free of charge, so there is no reason to not be protected (Speak to whoever does your computer support about the free Anti Virus programs for home use)
  • Make sure your Anti Virus program is kept up to date with new virus definitions via the Internet.
  • It should be configured to monitor your PC in the background continually looking for virus infections
  • Scanning of all incoming and outgoing emails for virus infections should be enabled
    Perform regular scheduled scans of your hard disk drives at least once a week

So check your PC’s, both home and office, and make sure they are protected from viruses. Home PC users can download a Free Anti Virus program from the Grisoft AVG Free Edition website (for home use only).

For business use, or home PC users that want more features and greater levels of protection download and buy the AVG Professional Version.

 Chris Moody
ASL Computer Services

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