When it comes to cyber security within an organization or on a home computer there is no better defense than a well-informed user. The criminals who write these malicious applications prey on users who have not been educated on what to look out for when browsing the web. As your trusted IT provider we want to keep your computer and identity safe not only at work but at home as well. Over the next few months we will be giving you tips on what to watch out for when using the internet, what we are doing to keep you safe on the web, and what measures you should take should a virus infect your system.
Imagine the internet as a big sprawling city that has everything you could possibly need whether it is advice, shopping, or directions. Within a big city are always alleys that we know to avoid. Why? Because you never know what could be lurking in those alleys to take the things that you have worked so hard for. The same goes for the Internet. The people who write malicious software are always out there and despite the best efforts of leading anti-virus companies there will always be new and inventive ways to trick users into downloading their malware. Fear is a strong motivating factor for most people. Cyber thieves have found a way to leverage the fear that users have of their identity and private information being compromised. These days, a seemingly real and useful antivirus application that alerts you that your system is infected may actually be your worst enemy.
Being safe on the web is your best defense from getting malware on your computer and understanding where the malicious software comes from will help you to do that. One of the most common ways that systems become compromised is through phishing. Yes, I spelled that right, phishing. Phishing is when you get what looks to be an authentic email from a trusted source such as your bank when it fact it is a fake created to convince you to share your information or go to a particular webpage. Identity thieves have become adept at copying company logos, color schemes, and slogans to attempt to make their email or imitation website look convincing. Within these emails or websites they will embed links that, according to the email, are very important that you visit. Once you have clicked the link the software download will begin quietly in the background and infect your system.
Research is vital when downloading any file from the internet even a picture! You must completely trust the source from which the files are being downloaded. Often, attackers will embed a download in an image file that will be saved when the image is opened. You should also take care when following links from social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter. Identity thieves will use false links posted on such sites due to the high exposure they can receive. Another popular method for attackers is to use search engines such as Google to promote a fake website. They do this by falsely raising their search engine ranking so when you do a search their website is near the top of the list. It is vital that you trust the site that you are visiting and verify that the link you click goes where you intended it to.
Anti-virus providers are always working to make tools to protect you, the end user. Unfortunately these days it is hard to determine which of the anti-virus programs are real and which ones are being used by criminals to scare users into purchasing bogus software and giving out sensitive information. If ever you have a question about an anti-virus application, suspicious website, or file download it is always a good idea to consult with your IT professional and we are always ready to help you and provide advice. Morale of the story is: It’s better to be safe than sorry!
Now that we have an understanding of what it is we should be looking for and the emergence of these fake antivirus applications it is important that you know what is being done to keep you safe and what your options are for malware protection. We will also let you know what you can expect to see if your system does become infected and the important steps you can take to stop the virus from spreading within your computer as well as across the network.