3 Critical Facts Every Computer User Must Know About Keeping Their Personal and Financial Information Safe Online

Despite all of nagging about online security, computer users never seem to give enough attention to online security and protection UNTIL a virus or a hacker renders their computer useless or destroys their data. Once this happens, it can be very expensive if not impossible to repair the damages done.

If you own a computer that is connected to the Internet without proper firewall and security measures set up, it’s only a matter of time before a worm, virus, hacker, or spyware takes over your computer.

Cyber criminals lurk everywhere on the Internet and are constantly figuring out new ways to access your personal and financial information. Even legitimate Web sites have sophisticated methods of snooping, such as cookies and spyware, that track your identity, browsing habits, and personal information.

The 3 biggest threats to you online, and show you how you can keep your private information from falling into the wrong hands.

Threat #1: Hackers
Small business owners and home users tend to think that because they are “just a small business” or “just a home user” no one would waste time trying to hack in to their computer. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Recently conducted experiments were software engineers connected a single computer to the Internet with no firewall. Within hours, over 13 gigabytes of space were taken over with malicious code and files that I could not delete. Hackers are malicious individuals who prey on unsuspecting computer users who have not properly secured their PC from outside access.

These cyber criminals run scanning programs over the Internet to find computers with electronic openings, called ports. Once they find such an opening, they have as much access to your computer as you do. That means your online banking, personal data, passwords, family data, and files. Often the goal of these intruders is to install a Trojan horse to your hard drive.

Here are some of the tell tale signs that your computer has been hacked:

Mysterious files suddenly start appearing.

Your CD drawer starts opening and closing by itself.

You get constant runtime errors in MS Outlook/Outlook Express.

You find e-mails in your sent items folder that you didn't send.

Some of your files are moved or deleted.

Icons on your desktop or toolbars are blank or missing.

Your mouse feels sluggish, like someone else is trying to control it.

The best protection from a hacker is a good firewall. When properly set up, a firewall will make your computer invisible to the scanners and prevent hackers from accessing your computer.


Threat #2: Viruses, Worms, and Other Malicious Software


A virus is a freeloading program designed to install itself onto your computer without your knowledge or permission. Once installed, the virus attaches itself to files or boot sectors with the intent of taking over your computer’s programs.

A worm is a parasitic program designed to replicate itself on your computer and then spread to other computers via email (through your address book) or an IRC (chat program). Both of these programs are considered “malware”, which is short for malicious software. Many of the worms on the Internet today have been designed by advertising agencies to gain lists of working email addresses for spam.

If you get a worm, not only are you affected, but also every person in your address book (friends, family, and clients). Most viruses are spread via e-mail attachments. That is why you should NEVER open any email attachment from someone you don’t know, or that looks suspicious.

Once the attachment has been opened, the computer virus will run on your computer and perform its intended function. Sometimes the computer virus is designed to delete specific files on the computer, send commands and information to other computers, or to wreak havoc on your computer in some other way.

It will also try to send copies of itself (also known as 'spoofing') to other email addresses that it finds in your email address book. In this way, the computer virus can spread across the Internet by way of email.

You can also get a computer virus by inserting and reading infected floppy disks and CD-ROMs or by downloading files from the Internet. If you download music files or pictures from a peer to peer file sharing site such as KaZaa, there is good chance you’ll end up with a virus.

The most important thing you can do to protect your PC from viruses is to install and regularly update your virus protection software. Many software programs offer an automatic update feature that will make it far easier to keep your PC safe.

Threat #3: Spyware

If you spend a lot of time online, share music files or photos with other users, or if you download shareware or other Internet freebies such as emoticons, screen savers, or other “cute” programs, chances are your computer is infected with spyware.

Spyware is Internet jargon for hidden, undetected programs advertisers install on your PC to gather and report information about you and your online activities. This program is usually installed without the user’s knowledge by piggybacking on another program or file being downloaded.

While some spyware is harmless, there can be serious consequences of unidentified spyware which include spam, identity theft, corruption and slowing of your PC, and annoying pop-up ads.

These programs can also profile your shopping preferences, hijack your browser start page, and alter important system files without your knowledge or permission. Unfortunately, spyware is not illegal even though it allows a complete stranger to monitor and store information about you and your online activities.

Here are some signs that your PC is infected with Spyware:

You are constantly getting pop-up ads that seem to come from nowhere.

Your Internet start page has been changed (this is the web site that normally comes up whenever you open your browser).

Your search engine bar has been changed.


However, not all malicious programs can be removed – or even detected – using the above software. Many programs integrate so deeply into the operating system that it takes a skilled technician several hours to fully diagnose and remove the malicious program. In some extreme cases, we have had no alternative but to wipe the hard disk clean by deleting all of the files on it and re-installing the operating system.

Of course you can use Spybot or Ad-Aware as a first attempt at cleaning your machine.

Now guys i am going to put up a few points that need to be kept in mind while operating your systems in order to make it a virus free or say a tension free machine.


1. Use a reputable, up-to-date virus protection package. Samford offers free McAfee to current students. Contact Grace Simms for help.

2. Scan your hard drive, USB Drives, and floppy disks often.

3. Scan your computer for spyware weekly using Ad-Aware, Spybot, or another anti-spyware program.

4. Be sure Microsft Windows Updates are current and that a Firewall is enabled.

5. How to use Spybot.

6. How to use Ad-Aware.

7. How to use McAfee.

What measures have been taken in the Law Library Computer Labs to protect my USB Drive and disks?

1. We use McAfee VirusScan.

2. DeepFreeze: preserves computer configurations.

3. Microsoft XP Service Pack 2: provides better protection against viruses and includes a Firewall.

The first real mobile phone virus, which was found in the wild and could replicate on its own, was discovered almost two years ago.
On June 15 2004, Finnish anti-virus firm F-Secure and Russian rival Kaspersky released details about a piece of mobile phone malware that used Bluetooth to try and spread to other Symbian series60-based mobile phones.

Almost two years on, F-Secure's chief research officer Mikko Hyppönen reports that although there are now over 200 mobile phone viruses -- many of which are variants of Cabir -- the problem is unlikely to get as bad as it has with PCs.

"The difference is that PC viruses were first found in 1986 and mobile phone viruses were found in 2004," said Hyppönen in an interview with ZDNet Australia at the AusCERT conference in the Gold Coast last week. "So we are living in the equivalent of 1988 but in 1988 Microsoft or hardware manufacturers were not doing anything about viruses".

"In the mobile phone world, all the mobile phone manufacturers are working on the problem as are the phone operating system manufacturers, like Symbian, Microsoft and Palm. Operators are on top of this -- there are several phones from Nokia that come with antivirus software, which is made by F-Secure," he said.

At AusCERT, Hyppönen presented a talk about current and future mobile phone threats. He explained that malware aimed at mobile phones is close to evolving into something that could make cybercriminals lots of money.

"On any new platform the first malware is made by hobbyists as a proof of concept -- the professionals move in later on. This change hasn't really happened yet on the mobile phone side," said Hyppönen.

One example of a Trojan designed to illegally make money from Mobile phone users is called Redbrowser, which will run on any Java-enabled phone and is 'advertised' as a special Web browser that, if installed, will provide the user with WAP browsing.

In reality, Redbrowser is programmed to send vast quantities of text messages to a Russian premium rate number, which could cost the victim hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

"Redbrowser starts to send text messages from your phone to that number -- as many as it can, as fast as it can and each message costs you around US$5," said Hyppönen.

Another piece of mobile malware that could hit its victims in the pocket is Commwarrior, which first appeared in March 2005 and used both Bluetooth and Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) to replicate.

MMS is commonly used for sending picture messages but it can also allow mobile phone users to exchange ring tones, files and other applications.

"Say you have 200 numbers in your phone and you get hit with Commwarrior. It will send an MMS message in your name to every single number in your phone. So people get a message from you, they trust you and open up the message and get infected," explained Hyppönen.

If Hyppönen got infected by Commwarrior, it would cost him a significant amount, he said: "You pay for every message so if it cost 50 cents, [200 contacts means] it has cost you $100. I have 1600 contacts so if I get infected it will cost me $800 -- that is already a lot of money".

Although Commwarrior infections are not a serious problem at the moment, some mobile phone operators are already feeling the pain, said Hyppönen.

"One operator found that 2.5 percent and another found 3.5 percent of all their MMS traffic was not generated by people but by viruses. Another operator we spoke with said that their user support gets around 200 calls a day about mobile phone viruses," Hyppönen said. Spyware moves in
Over the past year, spyware has become one of the biggest problems on PCs so it is not be a surprise that issue has migrated to mobile phones.

At the end of March, F-Secure discovered a "spying application" called Flexispy that is designed to record text messages, log calls and even send back recordings of calls to a third party.

Although the application, made by Bangkok-based Vervata, is technically legal and has legitimate uses, F-Secure objected to the fact that once installed there is no indication to the user that so much information is being leaked to a third party.

"You can use it to monitor your 10 year old and it is legal -- depending on where you are -- and justifiable. But then again if you install it on somebody's phone without them knowing about it, it is illegal," said Hyppönen.

F-Secure classified Flexispy as a Trojan and included detection for it in its mobile phone anti-virus software, said Hyppönen: "We made the call based on the fact that it never shows you any messages or explains what it is".

Vervata responded by publishing a strong objection on its Web site: "Like any other monitoring software there may be a possibility for misuse, but there is nothing inherent in FlexiSPY that makes it illegal or malicious, and Vervata would like to point out that F-Secure comments categorizing FlexiSPY as a Trojan are completely incorrect".

Unfortunately for Vervata, other security software vendors -- including Symantec and Kaspersky -- have sided with F-Secure.

Last year, analyst group Gartner predicted that a serious mobile phone virus is unlikely until the end of 2007 because it will take that long until there are enough mobile phones capable of carrying the infection.

Hyppönen also believes that the virus problem will get worse -- before it gets better. However, he is confident it will never be as bad it is currently with PCs.

"There have already been tens of thousands of mobile phones infected and mobile viruses have spread to 30 different countries. A virus has tried infecting my phone 4 times -- once in London and three times in Finland.

"If we play our cards right we will not have 165,000 mobile phone viruses in 2020," Hyppönen added.

Have any one of you heard about the red mobile virus? Does any one knows that there was a wide spread of rumours that the red virus has attacked the mobile companies infact what actually happens is that a person gets a call from the unknown or anon number as soon as the person recves the call the person dies bcoz it is said that the mobile immediately attacked the important cells of the mind and causes death in friction of seconds.


Although all the rumours were failed and the information was proven wrong but does any 1 know that from where this terminology Mobile red virus came from? Definitely there are many suspecions and doubts about it!

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