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


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