Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Malware 101 : Keeping your computer safe and clean

There are nasty things from the internet that can mess up your computer. They are programs that are generally categorized as malwares. Wikepedia discusses malwares in detail but for the benefit of simplicity I'll just discuss the top malwares to be wary of.
  1. Spyware - collects information about the user, their computer and browsing habits without their consent and sends it back to a homebase.
  2. Adware - displays advertisements on your computer with or without your consent.
  3. Worms - self-replicating computer program that spreads through computer networks which can have the effect of disrupting or slowing internet connections.
  4. Virus - is a computer program that can copy itself and infect a computer without the permission or knowledge of the owner. Viruses can have nasty effects like erasing precious data from your computer.
  5. Trojan - is a non-replicating computer program which the user allows to run thinking it is beneficial when it fact it is causing undesirable functions for example is allowing other users access to your computer.
The ways for you to get malwares on your computer are:
  1. Opening email attachments whose sender or contents are dubious.
  2. While surfing the web especially if you go to unsafe websites sites.
  3. Installing unknown programs you got from the internet.
  4. Plugging in external devices like flash drives, memory cards, or external hard drives that are infected with malware.
In order to fight and prevent malwares from invading your computer observe the following guidelines:
  1. Do not ever open an email from someone you do not know or whose file names are ending in EXE.
  2. Use Firefox as your web browser and install the plug-in Adblock plus. If you still have not installed Firefox check my earlier posts on installation and plug-ins. Safe websites are those starting with https:// while an example of usually unsafe websites are those about hacking and porn. Please do if not try to stay away from porn :)
  3. Do not immediately install programs especially when free, if their vendor or creator seems untrustworthy as their software may be trojans or contain viruses that will do more harm to you than good.
  4. Before you open the folders or copy files from an external device, make sure to run security checks with an anti-virus program and an anti-spyware program first.
Now that you are aware about the different kinds of malware, what they do and how you get them, just keep your computer safe and clean by following the suggested guidelines above.If you want to learn more about antivirus and how to get one for free you may proceed to this article. I hope you leave a comment if you find this helpful.

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