Online Threats: Viruses, Spyware, and & Adware
With the onslaught of technology, more and more people have access to the internet – and with that, an increased exposure to online threats. Laptops and personal computers tend to be targeted by online threats in the form of viruses, spyware, and other malicious applications. Here are some of the threats that you should be cognizant about when connecting to the Internet. Being educated on online threats will ensure the safety of your personal information and your personal devices.
Computer Viruses and Spyware: Computer viruses are programs designed to and inhabit your computer, subsequently taking resources in the form of RAM and hard drive consumption. One of the more malignant forms of viruses will replicate itself, taking so much of digital space that you may not be able to launch programs. More aggressive computer viruses will try to log personal information and transport to a non-authorized outsider. Spyware looks and acts like viruses, coming in programs that may look beneficial to the computer user. Both of these types of computer threats can be spread by downloading incredulous computer files, exchanging CDs, disk drives, or USB sticks, as well as downloading files from dubious servers.
Worms: Worms tend to travel via email. The perpetrator will try to encourage you to click on a link in the email message, opening a website that asks for specific forms of information about you. The type of information may include addresses, financial information, or login info. Most modern email platforms have effective spam filters, but it is still important to be suspicious of emails from addresses that seem unfamiliar to you.
Computer Trojan: Trojan horses disguise themselves as official programs. However, they’re created to disarm antivirus programs and firewall protection. By doing this, the Trojan horse creates an access point where hackers can login and rob personal information directly from your computer’s memory.
Adware: Akin to spyware, adware flaunts itself as innocent ads in computer programs and software. Many times, this form of malware launches itself as pop-ups or advertisements that cannot be exited unless you execute a particular action, like inserting your email address or name.
Phishing: Phishing, especially “spearfishing” is a highly targeted form of online terrorism. Phishing tends to focus on high profile individuals. Perpetrators will create a website or an email that is highly specific and personable, creating a sense of authority by including highly intimate information. In haste, these individuals respond to the email, hoping to remedy the problem before it becomes a larger issue.
The best way to protect your computer from online threats is by using a comprehensive antivirus and anti-spyware software. You can compound the effectiveness of antivirus programs by using two forms of protection: one complete suite program that offers comprehensive protection from email phishing attempts, and other forms of spam; and a standalone scanner that will sift through your memory for active viruses. Try to avoid using two suites at the same time – you may experience false positives and an unstable operating system.
A Word of about Smart Phones and Viruses.
Generally speaking, a smart phone will have access to iOS App Store or the Android equivalent, Google Play. When developers host their programs on these platforms, they are required to go through a stringent process to ensure that the program does a specific action, eradicating any attempts of untruths. However, individuals who jailbreak or root their devices are in danger of installing programs that aren’t authorized by the App Store or Google Play. Individuals who jailbreak their phones can enjoy the merits of a phone with increased functionality with the help of apps, but some of these apps are able to assess the operating system, unearthing sensitive information.
To ensure the safety of your phone, make sure that you backup your device on a regular basis. If downloading an app that is only approved for jailbroken devices, make sure to read up reviews and forums to ensure it does exactly what it is intended for. Jailbreaking a device can enrich your experience with your phone, but it is important that you stay cognizant to the apps that you do download.
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