Using the Internet we can snoop, probe, and 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.
The web is the success it has become at least partially due to the fact that it can satisfy our curiosity about almost anything we can think of. We have learned to satisfy this curiosity simply by a mouse click here, and a mouse click there. In a sense, we have developed a conditioned response to “just click”.
Knowing this, cyber crooks are now exploiting our natural curiosity relying, more and more, by focusing 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.
Our curiosity coupled with our conditioned responses can often override our common sense, so it’s not unusual for people to open an email attachment, for example, despite knowing that the attachment could be a virus, or other form of malware.
Security experts argue that a significant number of malware infections could be avoided if users stopped “just clicking haphazardly” or opening the types of files that are clearly dangerous. To this point however, this type of dangerous behavior continues despite the warnings.
As part of the Tech community I am aware that many fellow Techies are disdainful of anti-malware solution software, but instead they rely on their own experiences and common sense to avoid malware infections. They are well aware of the hidden dangers on the Internet and have overcome that natural tendency to “just click”.
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 that “just clicking” can expose you to:
- Trojan horse programs
- Back door and remote administration programs
- Denial of service attacks
- Being an intermediary for another attack
- Cross-site scripting
- Email spoofing
- Email-borne viruses
- Packet sniffing
Act like a Techie and review the following actions you can take to protect your Internet connected computer system:
- When surfing the web – Stop. Think. Click
- Install an Internet Browser add-on such as WOT (my personal favorite), which provides detailed test results on a site’s safety; protecting you from security threats including spyware, adware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, and online scams.
- 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 your computer.
- Install a personal firewall on your 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.