Saturday, April 11, 2009

Internet Security and You - Take Action

by: Anthony Norton

It amazes me that for whatever reason people tend to overlook this problem time and time again. With the expansion of the Internet comes more threats. There are people in this world that want to cause harm to your computer, just because they can. You may not know when or where these attacks will occur, but it can happen to you at a moments notice.

When you are online you are sharing a vast network with millions of other users from all over the planet. Some of these user like to abuse the Internet by sending you spam emails or even worst, these people can be hackers and those who create viruses meant to harm your system.

You may have received an email from an unknown sender with an attach link or file with the sole propose to cause havoc to recipient. This file could be an Trojan, keylogger, adware, spyware or a number of the thousands of harmful viruses that can damage your computer, and the time and hard work you spend to customize your system can be wipe clean.

Some of the more well known viruses have been the:

Anna Kournikova virus

This arrives as an email attachment. Opening this attachment infects your machine. Once infected, the virus mails itself to all recipients found in the Windows Address Book.

Lovsan Worm virus also known as "Blaster" or "MSBlaster"

Has quickly infected computers throughout the Internet. The worm takes advantage of a flaw in Windows operating systems to drop a malicious program on your computer.

Unlike typical computer viruses, which usually arrive as email attachments, Internet worms attack communication ports on vulnerable computers, often without the user's knowledge. By taking advantage of a vulnerability in Windows, the worm is able to spread without requiring any action on the part of the user.


Infects web servers and local files. Its main goal is simply to spread over the Internet and Intranet, infecting as many users as possible and creating so much traffic that networks are virtually unusable.

The "I Love You" Virus

This virus is pernicious, using Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express to send itself to everyone on a Contact List from these programs, and destructively replacing files. The subject line of the infectious email reads "ILOVEYOU", and the message of the email reads "Kindly check the attached LOVELETTER coming from me." The attachment, which has the destructive Visual Basic script, is named "LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.TXT.vbs"

If you receive this email attachment, DON"T OPEN IT!!! Your computer will not become infected unless you open the attachment on purpose. Reading the email won't infect your computer.

You may also be careful when using File sharing, Peer-to-Peer (P2P) software. This platform is great place for people to spread viruses to other people by simply creating or modifying an virus and renamed this program to a popular file name. Then once the file have completed downloading, the unsuspected user opens the file, and the destruction begins.

It can be a simply problem that hoping your anti virus will detect and alert you of a potential danger, or the virus may just completely wipe you hard drive in seconds. For those of you can use popular p2p programs like kazaa, limewire, shareaza, emule and others, please do not download any file that may look suspicious with a weird a file extension. This file may look like "britney spears.jpg.exe" or "norton antivirus.exe" with a smaller file size then usually.

If you have an antivirus software, you can simply, "right click" a file on your system and scan for viruses, before your open the file itself. This method can help you, but is not foolproof.

Don't be the next victim. Take these steps to help keep the odds in your favor of being protected:

Antivirus Software

An premium antivirus software like Panda Platinum Internet Security (which included an antivirus, firewall, spam blocker, and anti-spyware), BitDefender, or The Shield Pro is the most critical element of your Internet safety.

If you don't have up-to-date antivirus software on your PC you're asking for trouble. A good antivirus software will find viruses that haven't yet infected your computer and remove the ones that have.

Firewall Software

Windows XP comes built-in with a firewall, and if you are running Service Pack 2, it is turned on by default. Although Windows XP's firewall is certainly better than nothing, you should strongly consider acquiring another firewall to work on top of, or replace (recommended!) the firewall that comes with Windows XP.

Firewall software watches these ports to make sure that only safe communication is happening between your computer and other computers online. If it sees something dangerous happening it blocks that port on your computer to make sure your computer stays safe from the person who is trying to hack into your system.

Some of the better firewalls are Zone Alarm Pro, Norton Personal Firewall, Panda Platinum Internet Security, and The Shield Pro.

Spyware Removal

There is a good chance that if you are actively online with your computer system that in some way spyware will get installed. All it takes is just clicking on the wrong site or by signing up for some web programs. Another issue with spyware is the danger of invasion of privacy.

Remember that these programs can collect all types of data from you computer system and then send back to its creator. Spyware usually collects information that can be used for advertising, marketing to see what websites you visit on a frequent bases.

There are several spyware tools available, but many provide insufficient protection.

One of the better spyware removers are; Webroot Spy Sweeper, XoftSpySE, and AdwareAlert.