Article - computers
The Top Twelve Threats No Computer User Should Ignore by Kai Chandler
by Kai Chandler
The Top Twelve Threats No Computer User Should Ignore
The internet is undoubtedly a fantastic resource for
families and offers a rich vein of educational content.
However, there are potential dangers - welcome to the
seedy world of viruses, spam, trojans, pornography, spyware
and other nasties.
Here are the Top Twelve Threats No Computer User Should
1. Viruses - A computer program that copies itself. They
often disrupt your computer system or damage your data.
Viruses are usually received by email attachments so be
careful opening anything from a dubious source. They can
affect anyone, for example, the destructive Mydoom worm
affected one out of three small and mid-sized businesses.
2. Spyware - Sends information about you and your computer
to somebody else. Spyware may send the addresses of sites
you have visited or worse still, transmit personal
information. With today's concerns about identify theft
this is a real worry. For example, CoolWebSearch may hijack
web searches, home page, and other Internet Explorer
settings. Spyware is normally received as part of shareware
or freeware downloaded from the web.
3. IP Spoofing - A technique to gain unauthorized access
to computers, whereby the intruder sends messages to a
computer with an address indicating that the message is
coming from a trusted host.
4. Trojans - An apparently legitimate computer program
that is really intended to disrupt and damage computer
activity by sending information, perhaps even passwords
onto a third party without you knowing. As an example,
recent emails entitled "Osama Bin Laden Captured" attempted
to download the "Trj/Small.B." Trojan if the embedded URL
was clicked. This trojan attempts to hijack the PC.
5. Spam - Unsolicited mail often promoting products of a
dubious financial or sexual nature. Don't leave your email
address on websites and internet bulletin boards as they
are harvested by spammers.
6. Adware - puts advertisements on your screen. These take
many forms including popups, popunders and advertisements
that appear later, even if your browser is closed. Some are
sent using the Windows Messenger service which allows a
spammer to direct an advertisement straight to your
computer by sequentially sending messages to IP addresses.
Always irritating, they are also often of a pornographic
7. Diallers - for those of us still with dial up modems,
dialler programs redirect calls to a very expensive number.
You won't know until you get the bill.
8. Hijackers - Hijackers take control of your web browser
and may reset your home page, search bar and search pages.
They can redirect you to undesirable sites or stop you
going to particular sites.
9. Hackers - With so much personal data available online
to anyone with a password you must be sure your password is
secure. If you are using your mother's maiden name, your
cat's name or your birthday then your password is at risk.
Here are two tips for making a secure password. Method One -
pick two random unrelated three letter words and two
digits. Mix them up and what do you have? A secure password
such as "red19cat" or "hotpin73". Method Two - pick a short
sequence of words such as Now Is The Winter Of Our
Discontent Made Glorious' and you have a password of
"nitwoodmg". You could even change the I's and O's to
10. Phishing - Emails purporting to come from reliable
sources such as Paypal, Ebay or your bank. Often wanting
you to verify your account details, they can look very
realistic but are generally scams to harvest usernames and
passwords. Always open a new browser winder and type the
address there, rather than clicking on the link provided.
11. Hoaxes - Chain letters, scams, false alarms. At best
they take up time and bandwidth but at worst vulnerable can
be victims of fraud. Pass it on!
12. Stranger-danger - For those of us with children - do
you know what they actually do when they are online? Are
they working on homework tasks, downloading illegal music
or pornography? Or are they chatting to strangers in chat
rooms? You should consider blocking access to undesirable
sites and logging their activity with a surveillance tool.
Oh, and don't forget that where children are concerned,
computers should always be kept in a family room and never
in their bedroom.
Three Step Action Plan
There are three essential steps that should be taken to
ensure your PC is kept threat-free.
Firstly, be sensible when opening attachments or following
email instructions from apparently reputable sites.
Secondly, make sure you are using the latest service pack
of Windows as Microsoft is continually closing loopholes to
tighten up security.
Finally, there's a range of low cost tools such as
firewalls, antivirus, spam blockers and spyware killers
available. Like everything else they vary in quality and
you tend to get what you pay for so always do your research
first and perhaps try a free trial before getting your
credit card out.