Using the Internet we can snoop, probe, pry; and question, or confirm, virtually any statement, fact or opinion. We now have access to a quantity, and quality (some might dispute the quality), of information as never before.
Many of us have learned to satisfy this curiosity, or search for knowledge, by a mouse click here, and a mouse click there. In a sense, a lot of of us have developed a conditioned response to “just click”.
Knowing we are all pretty curious creatures, cyber-crooks are now exploiting our natural curiosity relying, more and more, on this aspect of social engineering to create an opportunity designed to drop malicious code, including rootkits, password stealers, Trojan horses, and spam bots on our computers. (See “Rogue Security Software on the Rise – What You Need to Know Now!” on this site.)
So in a real sense, it may well be our instinctive responses that pose the biggest risk to our online safety and security. Our curiosity coupled with our conditioned responses can often override our common sense, so it’s not unusual that many people will open an email attachment without knowing if the attachment contains a virus, or another form of malware.
Security experts agree that a significant number of malware infections could be avoided if users stopped opening the types of files that are clearly dangerous. Up to now however, this type of dangerous behavior continues, despite the warnings.
As part of the Tech community I am aware that many Techies do not look to anti-malware solution software for total protection, but instead, they rely on their own experiences and common sense to avoid malware infections. Techies are well aware of the hidden dangers on the Internet, and they have overcome that natural tendency to “just click”.
Modify your instinctive behavior:
Before you click, stop and consider the potential consequences. In the final analysis, you are the best line of defense against malware infecting your computer.
If you are in the habit of downloading files from the Internet you should avoid possibly destructive files with extensions such as .exe, .scr, .lnk, .bat, .vbs, .dll, .bin, and .cmd, unless you are familiar with the download site, and trust it to be free of potential dangers.
Be kind to your friends, relatives, and associates and let them know that “just clicking haphazardly” without considering the consequences, can lead to the installation of malicious code that can cause identity theft and the theft of passwords, bank account numbers, and other personal information.
Think like a Techie and be aware of the following security risks on the Internet:
Trojan horse programs
Back door and remote administration programs
Denial of service
Being an intermediary for another attack
Unprotected Window shares
Hidden file extensions
Act like a Techie and review the following actions you can take to protect your Internet connected computer system:
Don’t open unknown email attachments
Don’t run programs of unknown origin
Disable hidden filename extensions
Keep all applications (including your operating system) patched
Turn off your computer or disconnect from the network when not in use
Disable scripting features in email programs
Make regular backups of critical data
Make a boot disk in case your computer is damaged or compromised
Turn off file and printer sharing on the computer.
Install a personal firewall on the computer.
Install anti-virus and anti-spyware software and ensure it is configured to automatically update when you are connected to the Internet.
Ensure the anti-virus software scans all e-mail attachments.
If you are unsure if your current anti-malware applications offer adequate protection, then checkout “The 35 Best Free Applications – Tried, Tested and Reliable”, on this site.