A guide to protecting your computer, internet security, child protection, viruses and threats

Your computer and network when connected to the internet is at risk from attack at any hour of the day or night.

Ignoring computer Internet security threats can be very costly. Your computer is just one machine among the millions connected to the Internet at any given moment. And a moment is all it takes for a hacker to get in. All your private documents and photos, credit card numbers and passwords are available to anyone with bad intentions and basic computer skills.

see also Internet Security Software



Hackers:

Hackers can get in, take what they want, and even leave open a "back door" so they can turn your computer into a "zombie" and use it to launch network security attacks, often against high-profile computer systems such as government or financial systems. Having control of your computer gives them the ability to hide their true location as they launch their attacks.

Virus protection is not enough. Don't think that antivirus software completely protects your computer from Internet security risks. Virus protection is as good as the latest virus definitions, which are created in response to the latest viruses - many thousands of people must be infected before the makers of antivirus software can create a defense. And antivirus software does nothing to protect your computer against direct network security attacks.

If you use dial-up Internet connection, it is more difficult (not impossible, just difficult) for a hacker to get in, since your computer only connects to the Internet when it has something to send, such as email or a request to load a Web page. Once there is no more data to be sent, or after a certain amount of idle time, the computer disconnects the call. Also, your computer is usually assigned a different IP address on each call.

Broadband services are more of a target for network attacks, since your computer is always on the network, ready to send or receive data and its IP address changes less frequently (if at all).

How to protect your computer against network security attacks and other threats.

1) Use a firewall.

This is a software program that monitors all incoming and outgoing network traffic and allows only the connections that are known and trusted. It's a “must have” tool for your computer Internet security. Windows operating systems come with a firewall to give some protection.

ZoneAlarm PRO Antivirus+ Firewall 2013 (PC)

Important Tips:

Check Windows -- Before installing personal firewall software on a Windows computer, be sure that the firewall built into the Windows XP operating system is turned off.

Never use two software firewalls at the same time. Completely uninstall one before installing another. Use the vendor's uninstall utility or if not available, use the Windows XP/Vista etc add/remove software tool in the control panel. You can use a hardware firewall including a Wired Router, Wireless Router or Broadband Gateway.

Patches & Updates -- As soon as your firewall is installed, check the vendor's website for patches and updates. If the firewall offers an automatic update function, turn it on.

Testing - After you install a firewall, be sure to check it with an online service like Security Space to make sure that it is configured correctly. Testing your firewall is the only sure way to tell that your computer is really being protected.

2) Use antivirus and antispyware software and keep it up-to-date.

Free AntiVirus Software (for personal use)

The following antivirus products are free for personal use. There may be some conditions attached to their use and definitions of "personal use" may vary between products (although typically this means for personal, non-commercial, non-profit use), but check their terms and conditions:



AVG Internet Security 2014 -
3 User - 1 Year (PC)


McAfee Total Protection 2015 -
3 PC (PC) [Frustration - Free Packaging]



3) Regularly check for spyware and adware

Spyware and Adware are files that can be installed on your computer without your permission. These programs allow hackers to track your behavior on the Internet and retrieve your personal information such as pin, credit card, phone and social security numbers, passwords, usernames, etc.

Some anti-virus software products now include anti-spyware and some anti-spyware products have added anti-virus. In addition, some of these products include anti-trojan, anti-worm and other anti-malware features. Before relying on a single security product, carefully review the vendor’s list of features and study comparative test results if available.

Some retailed Antispyware software:

Spyware Doctor website: http://www.pctools.com/spyware-doctor/

Spy Sweeper website: http://www.webroot.com/En_US/index.html

4) Don't open unknown email attachments

The majority of web crime happens via email, so be on guard when checking yours. Don't open any attachments you're not expecting, or click any random links you find in the text (see the Phishing article). If you're unsure of a site's veracity, whack the link into Google and see what comes up; it may be listed as a bad 'un.

5) Disable hidden filename extensions

Windows operating systems contain an option to "Hide file extensions for known file types" (enabled by default). Some email viruses take advantage of a hidden file extension. They use an attachment which may appear to be harmless (.txt, .mpg, .avi) when in fact it's a script or executable (.vbs, .exe). For example, "LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.TXT.vbs".

6) Keep your operating system and other applications patched.

Most of the network security attacks would be stopped if all users kept their computers up-to-date with patches and security fixes. When holes are discovered (this happens frequently), computer vendors usually release patches for their software. Some applications automatically check for available updates, for others, you need to check periodically vendors' websites.

7) Disable Java and ActiveX if possible.

Java and ActiveX are used to write code that is executed by Web browsers. Although this code generally adds useful features, it can be used by hackers, for example, to monitor your Internet activity. You can disable Java and ActiveX in your browser at the cost of limited interaction with some websites.

8) Turn off your computer or disconnect from the network when not in use.

If you use broadband (DSL or cable) Internet connection, turn off your computer or otherwise completely disconnect it from the network when you are not using it. This not only "protects" your computer from Internet security risks, it forces your ISP to change your computer's IP address more frequently, thus making it more difficult for a hacker to get in.

9) Make regular backups of important data.

A hard disk crash or physical theft of your computer results in the loss of all data stored on hard disk. Keep a copy of important files on removable media such as floppy/ZIP disks or recordable CD-ROM disks and store these disks somewhere away from the computer.

10) Only download software from trusted websites.

If you're looking for a piece of software, find out who makes it first and then go to their site to get it. For smaller free/shareware programs, try using big sites like cnet's Download.com rather than just getting them from anywhere that shows up.

11) Use different passwords for different sites.

It may seem obvious, but don't use the same login for lots of sites, because then if one falls into the wrong hands, your whole online life is up for grabs. It's a nightmare to remember lots of different ones, so why not take one and just add a few letters to it related specifically to each site you're logging into?

Children's Internet security

Net Nanny - It's a simple-to-use filtering tool allowing you to determine what Internet content enters your home. It can block pornography, hate sites, questionable chat rooms, gambling sites and other dangers of the Web, Usenet, Peer-to-Peer downloading networks, Instant Messages, FTP, Forums and email.

Net Nanny 6

Kids Place Parental Control - A brilliant app as you can control what the children play on and what they can watch.

Kids Place - Parental Control



The Threats:

Threats to your computer come in different guises with various funky names. Collectively they're considered malicious software, abbreviated to 'malware' in security parlance. The main types are as follows:

Viruses

Hidden programmes which wreak havoc.

These are transmitted via websites, e-mail attachments, directly over the internet, or via any other removable media. They hide in applications or files and spread from computer to computer, generally wreaking havoc wherever they get the chance to.

Trojans:

Bugs within harmless looking files.

Trojan (horses) are hidden within a file that looks harmless, like a picture of a celebrity, aiming to trick the user into installing the malicious software like spyware or adware on the computer.

Worms:

Worms Can drill in via open web connections

Worms take advantage of any open Internet connection, to try and sneak in and replicate on the computer. Once loaded, they often start to send spam email from your computer without your knowledge.

Remember:

Hackers develop new bugs constantly - don’t forget about protecting your computer.

Books & Manuals

ECDL - European Computer Driving Licence

Buying a Computer

MS Word

MS Excel

Windows 7

Windows Vista

Windows XP

Powerpoint 2003/2007

Frontpage

Dreamweaver CS4/3/MX

Web Design - Publishing

HTML - CSS

Adobe Acrobat

Adobe CS4/CS3/CS2

Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Flash

Build Your Own PC

Digital Photograhy

Internet Security


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