Tag Archives: protect

I’ve Got a Secret and Free Secret Disk Keeps it That Way

imageThe days of privileged information, and personal privacy, have gone with the wind.

Private information concerning you is accumulated, bought and sold, and then manipulated for profit. If you’re like most people in developed countries – you probably don’t care. After all, you have nothing to hide; right?

In the broader sense, you are probably right; not that there’s much you could do about it, in any case. We really do live in the era of “Big Brother”.

Privacy though, can be a real issue when it comes to your computer, and the information stored on your Hard Drive. Something, I’m sure, you do not want compromised.

Most of us have information on our machines that we consider privileged information – sensitive financial data readily comes to mind. As well, many of us have additional files that we may consider sensitive and confidential. Files that we don’t want a spouse, girlfriend, a child, or others, to have ready access to.

Recently, I’ve noticed the unusually high number of child pornographers (those with child pornography on their Hard Drives), who were caught (including in my own community), following maintenance work on their computers by Technicians. Curiously, in almost every case; Technicians employed by national computer chains.

Possession of child pornography is a heinous crime, and we should use all appropriate methods to root out both its production, and possession; applying the most severe criminal sanctions for those convicted.

Having said that however, I’ve always had an aversion to computer technicians inappropriately searching through customers’ Hard Drives. Something which occurs much more often than the average user might suspect.

Hint: Don’t keep what might be considered embarrassing personal pics on your computer unless they are encrypted, or otherwise protected. You wouldn’t want that type of pic copied by someone (and they frequently are by those having unrestricted access), for their own uses – would you?

I’ve long been a strong believer in encrypting information that needs to be restricted, and there are many free encryption programs available for download, that do a great job.

Encryption though, is not the only way to restrict access to private information on a computer. Recently, I came across a neat little program that handles the privacy issue in an non-encrypted way. A way that is effective in ensuring private files remain private.

Secret Disk does one thing, and it does it very well. It creates a separate secret disk on your Hard Drive, in a non-complex way, for your “secret” files. When the disk is locked it’s invisible, and cannot be seen by other users.

Installation and setup is a snap. Following installation, simply assign a password to Secret Disk, and you’re good to go – simple, fast, and uncomplicated!

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image

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The screen capture below, shows Secret Disk as drive “X” on my Windows 7 test system.

Secret Disk 1

Fast facts:

Separate disk for your private files – this tool will create a separate disk for your private files.

Access with a password – you can access Secret Disk only with a password.

Locking – when locked Secret Disk disappears and stays invisible with all contents.

One second protection – when you need protection Secret Disk disappears within one second with all content, no matter how many files you have on the disk.

Power failure – in case of power (or Windows) failure, Secret Disk will be automatically locked.

Automatic locking – Secret Disk can be automatically locked if you away from your PC (screensaver is running), or when you press the  F8 key.

No hardware – no additional hardware required. Space for secret disk will be taken from your system disk.

Recommendation: If you’re looking for a free application to protect your secret files from prying eyes, Secret Disk is definitely worth taking a look at.

Secret Disk is a particularly good application for novice, or casual computer users, who don’t have the skills to work with more complex encryption applications.

System requirements: Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 7

Supported languages: English, French, Italian, Korean, Chinese, Russian, Norwegian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Turkish, Japanese, Finnish, German

Download at: Developer’s site (PrivacyRoot.com)

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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21 Comments

Filed under downloads, Encryption Software Alternatives, Freeware, pornography, Software, System Security, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

How to Tune Up Your Anti-Malware Strategy With These Free Solutions

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As highly regarded security guru Bruce Schneier says, “If you think technology can solve your security problems, then you don’t understand the problems and you don’t understand the technology”

Unfortunately, the average user continues to rely only on technology for protection. Recently, I setup a new computer system for a friend; an average user, and as I was tinkering with her system, one though kept bouncing around in my head. “What do I need to do to keep her protected on the Internet?”

I started with the usual things of course, including installing the following security applications.

PC Tools Firewall

– PC Tools Firewall is definitely worth considering as a new Firewall installation, or as a replacement for a current Firewall that is not meeting expectations.

Microsoft Security Essentials

– Easy to set up and run, particularly for new users. The interface is positively simple offering Quick Scan, Full Scan, or Custom Scan. Provides full real time protection against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.

Avira AntiVir Personal

– Offers on demand scans for viruses, Trojans, backdoor programs, hoaxes, worms, dialers and other malicious programs. As well you can repair, delete, block, rename and quarantine programs, or files.

Firefox

– I then installed the most effective security add-ons, including NoScript, KeyScrambler, Adblock Plus and BetterPrivacy.

WOT

– Web of Trust, a browser add-on which offers Internet users active preventive protection against Web-based attacks, online scams, identify theft, and unreliable shopping sites.

Winpatrol

– This program uses a simple yet effective method of fighting all kinds of malicious programs.

GesWall

– An isolator which dynamically isolates Internet applications including Web Browsers, Chat Clients, Email Clients, and so on.

Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware

– A simple, intuitive, and easy to use interface, makes Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware straightforward to setup, customize and run, for both less experienced and expert users alike. This application was installed as a secondary on demand scanner.

SUPERAntiSpyware Free Edition

– SUPERAntiSpyware is also straightforward to setup, customize and run, for both less experienced and expert users alike. This application was installed as an additional secondary on demand scanner. This should not be considered overkill – there is no one single anti-malware application that is likely to catch everything. Better safe than sorry, and all that.

ThreatFire

ThreatFire blocks mal-ware, including zero-day threats, by analyzing program behavior and it does a stellar job. Again, this is one of the security applications that forms part of my own front line defenses.

So what could go wrong with this kind of armor against the pack of jackal-like cyber-criminals who prowl the Internet? The short answer is – plenty.

adware 4She still faces substantial risks while surfing the Internet regardless of the antispyware, antivirus, and the other Internet security applications I installed.

Malware evolves so rapidly today, that staying ahead of the curve has proven to be all but impossible for security software developers, despite their best efforts.

While it may be true that reputable Anti-malware software is often capable of detecting harmful and malicious attempts to compromise a computer, this is not always the case. Anti-malware programs that rely on a definition database (most anti-malware programs), can often be behind the curve in recognizing the newest threats.

You might be wondering just how many new malware threats circulate on the Internet – and here’s one answer. Over the last three months alone, PandaLabs has recorded five million new strains of malware.

On the face of it, it may appear that this huge number of new malware strains presents an insurmountable problem. But malware itself is only part of the problem.

The method used to deliver the malware – social engineering – that’s the most significant problem currently, for an average user. Social engineering, which relies on, and exploits our natural curiosity, is a sure winner for the bad guys.

Cyber-criminals are increasingly relying 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.

So the problem I found myself having to deal with was “If all these security applications I installed won’t offer her absolute protection against cyber-criminals, what, or who will?” The only plausible answer was – she must take on this responsibility herself. The inescapable fact is – she must become her own best protection. In my experience it’s the only strategy that works.

My friend, (just like most average users), had a need to believe, and desperately wanted to be able to trust, that the installed security applications would totally protect her on the Internet.

She, like the rest of us, needed to become convinced that a mild case of paranoia when using the Internet, was in her own best interest. Being suspicious, and untrusting while surfing the web, might not make her invulnerable to malware infections or worse, but it will certainly reduce her odds enormously.

It took considerable effort to finally convince her that mild paranoia would play an important role in preventing her from becoming a victim of cyber criminals.

Particularly, overcoming the instinctive human response (and we all have it), to just “click” while surfing the Internet. That instinctive response, would pose one of the biggest risks to her online safety and security.

Security experts argue (including me), 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.

At the end of the day, I finally managed to get her agreement that she would not engage in any of the following unsafe surfing practices.

Downloading files and software through file-sharing applications such as BitTorrent, eDonkey, KaZaA and other such programs.

Clicking links in instant messaging (IM) that have no context or are composed of only general text.

Downloading executable software from web sites without ensuring that the site is reputable.

Using an unsecured USB stick on public computers, or other computers that are used by more than one person.

Opening email attachments from unknown people.

Opening email attachments without first scanning them for viruses.

Opening email attachments that end in a file extension of .exe, .vbs, or .lnk.

Regular readers of this site are very familiar with the following recommended security strategy to protect their computer system, their money and their identity:

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 Java, JavaScript, and ActiveX if possible

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

Be proactive when it comes to your computer’s security; make sure you have adequate software based protection to reduce the chances that your machine will become infected. Most of all, understand that you are your own best protection.

Well known software developer Comodo Group, have developed a new Internet video series, Really Simple Security, published on a dedicated YouTube channel, that makes it easier than ever for an average user to become much more proactive in their own protection. This is a site that should be in everyone’s bookmarks.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

25 Comments

Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Antivirus Applications, Comodo, cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Free Anti-malware Software, Free Firewalls, Freeware, Microsoft, PC Tools, Software, System Security, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Free Avira AntiVir Personal Protection – Get the Real Deal!

image Avira AntiVir Personal is not just another free AV solution. This application may just be the best free application for monitoring interactions with your operating system, to ensure that if a malicious program is detected it will be stopped dead in its tracks! It’s certainly the most popular in its class, and with good reason.

Avira AntiVir Personal offers effective, on demand scans for viruses, Trojans, backdoor programs, hoaxes, worms, dialers and other malicious programs. It’s simple interface provides easy access to a command structure, that makes it easy to repair, delete, block, rename and quarantine programs, or files.

I’ve been testing Avira in one release or another for years, and I continue to be impressed with its performance. I have come to rely on it as my primary anti-virus application on my test platforms.

If you’re a typical, or an average user, you should find that Avira AntiVir Personal will meet, and even exceed, all of your requirements.

As an indication of this programs popularity, Download.com reports almost 70 MILLION downloads, making it the leading antivirus software, offered for download on this site.

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Fast facts:

Highly Configurable

Protection from viruses, worms and Trojans

Protection against expensive dialers

Protection from hidden rootkits

Protection from phishing

Extensive malware Recognition

Monitors every action executed by the user or the operating system

Reacts promptly when a malicious program is detected.

Automatic updates of antivirus signatures, engine and software – I have to admit, I love this feature

Now in Version 9.0.0.415

Quick Summary:

Easy to download, easy to install, easy to configure, easy to use, and very effective.

System requirements: Windows 2000/XP/Vista/Win 7, UNIX

Download at: Download.com

Note: Free for home-users only.

If you need more convincing, watch the CNET video review of Avira AntiVir Personal – Free Antivirus ( 2:17 mins.)

If you find the nag screen annoying, take a look at “Disable Avira Notifier”, on this site.

If you enjoyed this article, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

11 Comments

Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Antivirus Applications, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Free Anti-malware Software, Free Security Programs, Freeware, Internet Safety Tools, Malware Removal, Software, System File Protection, System Security, Windows Tips and Tools

Hide Your Private Files with Free Secret Disk

image Privacy is under attack – everywhere. Flash cookies that follow you far and wide as you surf the Net, surveillance cameras (some in the most unlikely places), that record your every movement, and the list goes on. The days of privileged information, and personal privacy, has gone the way of the Dodo bird.

Private information concerning you is accumulated, bought and sold, and then manipulated for profit. If you’re like most Americans – you don’t care. After all, you have nothing to hide; right? In the broader sense you are probably right; not that there’s much you could do about it in any event. We really do live in the era of “Big Brother”.

Privacy though, can be a real issue when it comes to your computer. An issue, I’m sure, you do not want compromised. Most of us have information on our machines that we consider privileged information – sensitive financial data readily comes to mind. As well, many of us have additional files that we may consider sensitive and confidential. Files that we don’t want a spouse, girlfriend, a child, or others, to have ready access to.

I’m a strong believer in encrypting information that needs to be restricted, and there are many free encryption programs available for download that do a great job. But encryption is not the only way to restrict access to private information on a computer.

Recently, I came across a neat little program that handles the privacy issue in an non-encrypted way. A way that is effective in ensuring private files remain private.

Secret Disk does one thing, and it does it very well. It creates a separate secret disk on your Hard Drive, in a non-complex way, for your “secret” files. When the disk is locked it’s invisible, and cannot be seen by other users.

Installation and setup is a snap. Following installation, simply assign a password to Secret Disk, and you’re good to go – simple, fast, and uncomplicated!

image

image

image

The graphic below, shows Secret Disk as drive “X” on my Windows 7 system.

Secret Disk 1

Fast facts:

Separate disk for your private files – this tool will create a separate disk for your private files.

Access with a password – you can access Secret Disk only with a password.

Locking – when locked Secret Disk disappears and stays invisible with all contents.

One second protection – when you need protection Secret Disk disappears within one second with all content, no matter how many files you have on the disk.

Power failure – in case of power (or Windows) failure, Secret Disk will be automatically locked.

Automatic locking – Secret Disk can be automatically locked if you away from your PC (screensaver is running), or when you press the  F8 key.

No hardware – no additional hardware required! Space for secret disk will be taken from your system disk.

Recommendation: If you’re looking for a free application to protect your secret files from prying eyes, Secret Disk is definitely worth taking a look at. Secret Disk is a particularly good application for novice, or casual computer users, who don’t have the skills to work with more complex encryption applications.

System requirements: Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 7

Download at: Download.com

If you enjoyed this article, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

2 Comments

Filed under Freeware, New Computer User Software Tools, Privacy, Software, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Prevent Unintentional File Deletion With Free System Protect

Have you ever considered locking specific files on your computer to prevent accidental deletion? It’s actually very easy, and doing so can save you from the frustration of attempting to recover important data where you may not be successful.

While it’s true that a good recovery application such as Recuva, can often recover accidentally deleted files, it’s important to know – recovery is not always possible. Immediate action, following deletion, is the key to recovery.

When I talk about accidentally deleted files, I often recall the story of a friend whose teenagers had deleted all of the family photos to make room on the Hard Drive, so that they could download a peer to peer movie.

Unlike most home computer users I come into contact with,  he happened to be one of the few who had followed my advice that all important data on the family computer needed to be backed up regularly. While he was still disturbed that the photo files had been erased, this incident wasn’t the disaster it could have been.

It’s obvious that having a backup plan (a disaster recovery plan), in case you lose irreplaceable data, is critically important, but there is a way to prevent accidental file deletion.

System Protect is a free, easy-to-use application from Crawler (the people who gave us Spyware Terminator), that helps protect important programs, documents and files, from deletion caused by viruses, other users on your computer, or your own mistakes.

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Quick Facts:

Files & Folders Protection – prevents deletion of important files, programs and documents

Protection of Selected Files – lets you choose files and folders to be protected. This ensures that a virus, other people working with your computer or even you won’t delete an important document, your favorite photos, music, movies or other files

Increased Operating System Stability – protects essential system files to keep your operating system stable

Deletion Attempt Notification – notifies you of any attempt to delete any of the protected files

Protection for All Users – ensures protection for all computer users; administrator or restricted user

Works without Distracting You – silently protects your computer without interrupting your work

Deny Mode – automatically block deletion of any protected file

Since mistakes are inevitable on a computer, this neat little program could be just the thing you need to reduce the chances of having to deal with that unrecoverable error.

Download at: Download.com

If you enjoyed this article, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

1 Comment

Filed under Freeware, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, System File Protection, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

The Only Anti-Malware Strategy That Works

image

I just finished setting up a new computer system for a friend; an average user, and as I was tinkering with the system, one though kept bouncing around in my head. “What do I need to do to keep her protected on the Internet?”

I started with the usual things of course, including installing the following security applications.

PC Tools Firewall – PC Tools Firewall is definitely worth considering as a new Firewall installation, or as a replacement for a current Firewall that is not meeting expectations.

SUPERAntiSpyware Professional Edition – Thanks to Mike Duncan of SUPERAntiSpyware, I had a spare lifetime license.

Avira AntiVir Personal – Offers on demand scans for viruses, Trojans, backdoor programs, hoaxes, worms, dialers and other malicious programs. As well you can repair, delete, block, rename and quarantine programs, or files.

Firefox – I then installed the most effective security add-ons, including NoScript, KeyScrambler, Adblock Plus and BetterPrivacy.

WOT – Web of Trust, a browser add-on which offers Internet users active preventive protection against Web-based attacks, online scams, identify theft, and unreliable shopping sites.

Winpatrol – This program uses a simple yet effective method of fighting all kinds of malicious programs.

GesWall – An isolator which dynamically isolates Internet applications including Web Browsers, Chat Clients, Email Clients, and so on.

Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware – A simple, intuitive, and easy to use interface, makes Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware straightforward to setup, customize and run, for both less experienced and expert users alike. This application was installed as a secondary on demand scanner.

So what could go wrong with this kind of armor against the pack of jackal-like cyber-criminals who prowl the Internet? The short answer is – plenty.

adware 4She still faces substantial risks while surfing the Internet regardless of the antispyware, antivirus, and the other Internet security applications I installed.

Malware evolves so rapidly today, that staying ahead of the curve has proven to be all but impossible for security software developers, despite their best efforts.

While it may be true that reputable Anti-malware software is often capable of detecting harmful and malicious attempts to compromise a computer, this is not always the case. Anti-malware programs that rely on a definition database (most anti-malware programs), can often be behind the curve in recognizing the newest threats.

You might be wondering just how many new malware threats circulate on the Internet – and here’s one answer. Over the last three months alone, PandaLabs has recorded five million new strains of malware.

On the face of it, it may appear that this huge number of new malware strains presents an insurmountable problem. But malware itself is only part of the problem.

The method used to deliver the malware – social engineering – that’s the most significant problem currently, for an average user. Social engineering, which relies on, and exploits our natural curiosity, is a sure winner for the bad guys.

Cyber-criminals are increasingly relying 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.

So the problem I found myself having to deal with was “If all these security applications I installed won’t offer her absolute protection against cyber-criminals, what, or who will?” The only plausible answer was – she must take on this responsibility herself. The inescapable fact is – she must become her own best protection. In my experience it’s the only strategy that works.

My friend, from a physiological perspective, had a need to believe, and desperately wanted to be able to trust, that the installed security applications would totally protect her on the Internet.

She, like the rest of us, needed to become convinced that a mild case of paranoia when using the Internet, was in her own best interest. Being paranoid, suspicious, and untrusting while surfing the web, might not make her invulnerable to malware infections or worse, but it will certainly reduce her odds enormously.

It took considerable effort to finally convince her that mild paranoia would play an important role in preventing her from becoming a victim of cyber criminals.

Particularly, overcoming the instinctive human response (and we all have it), to just “click” while surfing the Internet. That instinctive response, if she continued, would pose one of the biggest risks to her online safety and security.

Security experts argue (including me), 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.

At the end of the day I finally managed to get her agreement that she would not engage in any of the following unsafe surfing practices.

Downloading files and software through file-sharing applications such as BitTorrent, eDonkey, KaZaA and other such programs.

Clicking links in instant messaging (IM) that have no context or are composed of only general text.

Downloading executable software from web sites without ensuring that the site is reputable.

Using an unsecured USB stick on public computers, or other computers that are used by more than one person.

Opening email attachments from unknown people.

Opening email attachments without first scanning them for viruses.

Opening email attachments that end in a file extension of .exe, .vbs, or .lnk.

Regular readers of this site are very familiar with the following recommended security strategy to protect their computer system, their money and their identity:

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 Java, JavaScript, and ActiveX if possible

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

Be proactive when it comes to your computer’s security; make sure you have adequate software based protection to reduce the chances that your machine will become infected. Most of all, understand that you are your own best protection.

If you are unsure if you have adequate software based protection on your computer, then check out “The 35 Best Free Applications – Tried, Tested and Reliable! ”, on this site, and download free security software that is appropriate for your personal circumstances.

If you enjoyed this article, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

7 Comments

Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Antivirus Applications, Browser add-ons, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Firefox, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Internet Safety, Malware Advisories, Online Safety, PandaLabs, Safe Surfing, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, Windows Tips and Tools, WOT (Web of Trust)

Paranoia on the Internet Pays Off

paranoia 2By chance, I met a very interesting cab driver today; one who was extremely computer competent and far more security conscious than the typical computer user I normally meet informally.

What struck me immediately, was Mike’s sense of paranoia surrounding his use of the computer on the Internet, which extended to the installation of software from unknown sources, including software from “friends”.

I must admit, it was very refreshing to have a discussion with a security conscious user, who was very aware of the security issues surrounding the use of computers.

So, is it paranoia if they really are after you? Well I can assure you, if you are connected to the Internet – they really are after you!

The Internet is a world that is full of cyber criminals, scam and fraud artists, and worse. A world that reeks of tainted search engine results, malware infected legitimate websites, drive-by downloads and bogus security software. Believe me, this is a very incomplete list!

It is beyond dispute that the Internet now fits the criteria of a world that is not just perceived to be, but is in fact, personally threatening to uninformed or casual Internet users.

I’ve often felt that given the present dangers on the Internet, it’s unfortunate that we can’t buy paranoia at the local computer store, or that we can’t download it freely from the Internet.

Despite the best efforts of antispyware, antivirus, and other Internet security products, you still face substantial risks while surfing the Internet. Malware (a genetic term for all sorts of nasties), evolves so rapidly today, that staying ahead of the curve has proven to be all but impossible for security software developers.

While reputable Anti-malware software is often capable of detecting harmful and malicious attempts to compromise your computer, this is not always the case. Anti-malware programs that rely on a definition database (most anti-malware programs) can be behind the curve in recognizing the newest threats.

Some statistics suggest that a zero day malware threat (a threat so new that no viable protection against it yet exists), will only be caught 57% of the time by installed Anti-malware software. Personally, I believe that this figure is a gross exaggeration.

Given these conditions then, we all need to become infected with a mild case of paranoia when using the Internet. Being paranoid, suspicious, and untrusting while surfing the web, might not make you invulnerable to malware infections or worse, but it will certainly reduce the odds enormously.

The prime area where paranoia can play an important role in preventing you from becoming a victim of cyber criminals is in overcoming the instinctive human response to just “click” while surfing the Internet. That instinctive response poses one of the biggest risks to your online safety and security.

Curiosity, coupled with a conditioned response can often override self-discipline and common sense; so it’s not unusual for people to engage in some, or all, of the following unsafe surfing practices.

Downloading files and software through file-sharing applications such as BitTorrent, eDonkey, KaZaA and other such programs.

Clicking links in instant messaging (IM) that have no context or are composed of only general text.

Downloading executable software from web sites without ensuring that the site is reputable.

Using an unsecured USB stick on public computers, or other computers that are used by more than one person.

Opening email attachments from unknown people.

Opening email attachments without first scanning them for viruses.

Opening email attachments that end in a file extension of .exe, .vbs, or .lnk.

So it’s time for you to develop a case of healthy paranoia while surfing the Internet, and as a first step be actively aware of the following threats to your personal and computer security.

Trojan horse programs

Back door and remote administration programs

Denial of service

Being an intermediary for another attack

Unprotected Window shares

Mobile code (Java, JavaScript, and ActiveX)

Cross-site scripting

Email spoofing

Email-borne viruses

Hidden file extensions

Chat clients

Packet sniffing

Having developed this new sense of paranoia you will no doubt take the following actions to protect your computer system, your money and your identity:

Install an Internet Browser add-on such as WOT, 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 Java, JavaScript, and ActiveX if possible

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

Be proactive when it comes to your computer’s security; make sure you have adequate software based protection to reduce the chances that your machine will become infected.

If you are unsure if you have adequate software based protection on your computer, then check out “The 35 Best Free Applications – Tried, Tested and Reliable!”, on this site, and download free security software that is appropriate for your personal circumstances.

If you enjoyed this article, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

9 Comments

Filed under Browser add-ons, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Internet Paranoia, Internet Safety, Malware Advisories, Online Safety, Software, Viruses, Windows Tips and Tools, worms, WOT (Web of Trust)