Basic Security For Your PC
All personal computers with internet access should be protected from security risks. This article gives an overview of types of attack and countermeasures.
All personal computers with internet access should be protected from security risks. These risks vary from malware downloads to phishing attacks. The former can be defeated using the software, the latter relies on a variety of deceptive confidence tricks that are referred to as “social engineering”.
Computer Security Software
The software side of things is the easier of the two. The major commercial brands will attempt to convince you that buying subscription services is the best way to secure your PC but there are many free options which are just as effective.
Those solutions that are free for personal use are often products targeted at corporate customers, by giving a free service to users at home the companies can boast that they are helping to secure more PCs generally which makes the entire internet safer as a by-product.
These free packages often have premium versions that can be paid for but their core services are always free to the personal user. They should run invisibly in the background only alerting you when they have found infection attempts or when they have automatically updated.
Security software comes in two main varieties an anti-virus which scans your computer for existing infection and software firewalls which attempt to stop malware from even getting onto your computer in the first place. Searching the internet for anti-virus or firewalls free for personal use will usually yield results. Read the sites carefully and always look for reviews of products to check that they are suitable before you install them.
Phishing and Social Engineering Attacks
The second type of security risk is the phishing or social engineering attack. There is no software that can protect you from these attacks as they rely on deception to get you, the user, to lower your defenses and give away personal information or download suspicious programs.
The criminals who write and distribute malware have a number of techniques at their disposal to convince people they are legitimate. At the most basic level copying, the layout of an official website is a task that is relatively easy to accomplish. Most people are aware of basic checks to make sure that they are looking at the real page for their bank or for their account page with an internet retailer. Although it is easy to disguise the look of the page the address in the address bar is far harder to spoof.
Unfortunately, criminals can also harvest personal details from you while you visit the real sites you wish to go to. They do this by first getting you to visit a site they own that can trail your activity after the visit and send them the details of your entries into any forms you fill in thereafter. These “scripts” are almost always only able to continue until you restart your internet browser and never survive a computer reboot.
Spotting Malware and Popular Internet Scams
You can often tell by the “feel” of a page whether it is likely to be legitimate or not. If you are not a regular internet user then you can also download “plugins” for your browser that earmark search results and give you indicators and warnings of possibly dangerous sites. These browser security plugins are effective but cannot be expected to work 100% of the time unless you also take the time to look carefully at the sites you are visiting.
In the last couple of years, a popular social engineering attack has been the “fake anti-virus” attack. Malware programs appear on your system without warning, they masquerade as anti-virus software and often put up warnings of bogus infections discovered on your system. They always demand credit card payments to remove the “infections”.
As these programs are actually classified as malware themselves special software tools must be used to remove them. Often these programs can be downloaded for free online and full instructions for removal can also be found on forums and anti-virus websites. There are many people globally who dedicate a portion of their lives to combating these threats and so information on getting rid of these problems is always plentiful.