How You Can Protect Yourself from Malware

There are a number of ways that you can protect yourself from malware, and several of these are explained below:

  • Use a safe search technology for web browsing, such as SiteAdvisor. This program warns users when they are about to visit a potentially malicious site by using a red, yellow or green symbol beside each link in the search results. Green gives you the all-clear, and before visiting a site with a red symbol, make sure to use caution.
  • Prevent software from being installed without your knowledge by using a password-protected administrator account.
  • Only download files from websites that are trustworthy, and avoid downloading any torrents or software cracks, which often have spyware.
  • Do not blindly agree to any pop-up message that shows “OK,” “Agree,” “Yes” or “No. Instead, hit the red “X” or hit Ctrl-Alt-Delete to shut your browser down. If you have a Mac, use Command-Option-Escape, and then either click Force Quit or hit the Apple logo on the left top corner of the screen.
  • Make sure to always update and install patches for your operating system, and always use the latest version of your chosen Internet browser.

What is a RAT?

A RAT, is a “Remote Administration Tool” or a “Remote Access Trojan,” depending on who you ask, and one is legit, the other is malicious and when paired with spyware, it will capture all keystrokes, record video or take photos of your screen and allow the operator to have full access to all of your files.

Typically, RATs will monitor a computer without the knowledge of the user. One common RAT that you should be aware of is the “Backdoor Orifice,” which gives a hacker remote access to the computer’s system administrator privileges.

A RAT can be installed by anyone who has onsite access to a computer, as well as when a computer user opens an attachment infected with a RAT.

Additionally, a user can install RATs by clicking on a link, installing a toolbar or using software that seems to be legitimate. There have even been cases where a RAT has been installed by sharing thumb drives. Even products such as external hard drives or digital picture frames can install a RAT if they were infected before leaving the factory. Cybercriminals may also trick their victims into downloading a RAT when playing video games online.

What are the Risks of Peer-to-Peer (P2P) File Sharing?

Peer-to-peer, or P2P file-sharing is a very good technology, and it is used to share all types of data online with others who use the same software. And depending on the nature of the specific P2P program, it is also a great way to expose yourself to hackers.

If P2P software is not installed properly, it will allow anyone, including a criminal hacker, to access data. This may lead to a data breach, identity theft and credit card fraud. There are many reports of drug companies, government agencies, mortgage brokers and others finding P2P software on networks after noticing that personal information has been leaked.

It may also surprise you that President Obama’s security information, helicopter plans, and even some notes on depositions from Congress have all been leaked due to P2P.

I once did a story with a reporter from Fox News about a local family with several children, including various digital devices filled with music. Since I knew the oldest child was young and had no money, I asked her dad where she had gotten the music, and he had no idea. It turns out, she had installed P2P software on the family’s computer and was inadvertently sharing their data with anyone who cared to look.

There are millions of machines that have P2P software on them, and many people do not understand that they are exposing all of their data. This software gives crooks the path of least resistance into a computer, so be smart about downloading it.