The Fundamentals of Protecting Yourself Online

Have you heard the term, “botnet?”

A botnet is a term for a robot network; a group of Internet-connection personal computers, which have all been affected by malicious software that allows hackers to control the computers without alerting the owner.  Since these computers are controlled by one or a small group of hackers, they are known as robots, zombies or bots.

When a virus brings an infected machine into a botnet, the crook can remotely control the computer, and sometimes they can access all of the data on the computer.

A “controller” is the person who operates a program that can connect to a server, and then execute a command or series of different commands to all the zombies on the botnet.

McAfee did a study on botnets, and discovered that they are most often used to commit crimes. These may include stealing secrets, sharing malware by placing it into source code files, compromising data, stealing identification and disrupting access or services. To a business, this can be devastating and lead to a loss of revenue, customer confidence, regulatory compliance, and reputation. In extreme cases, it can even lead to the loss of the business.

Computers that are outdated or use old, unsupported operating systems are usually vulnerable to these attacks. Even newer systems that are using outdated or old browsers are vulnerable, too. There are new scams that appear every day, and it is imperative that you do everything you can to protect your information from these cybercriminals.

The Internet can be a dangerous place, and there are potential attackers around each corner. As citizens, we must do something. Many people falsely believe that the government will take care of them, but the truth is, your personal security is only your responsibility. Though you might not be responsible for the crime occurring, you are in the very best position to prevent it.

How Can Antivirus Software Help?

All of the antivirus programs on the market perform differently, and they all offer different things. However, the basic purpose and structure is all the same.

Antivirus software scans the computer’s hard drive and external drives. The software will look for definitions of these viruses that are known, and then can scan manually or automatically.

Setting automatic scans is always in your best interest. This way, when new viruses are released, which happens daily, you will put yourself in the best position possible to protect yourself.

Malware is getting smarter everyday. Zeus, for instance, is a sophisticated program that spreads via phishing or download. In an effort to get around antivirus software, at one time the creators of the malware switched it to a graphic type of e-mail instead of a text-based, so the software cannot detect it.

Free or Paid? Does the Type of Antivirus Software Matter?

Basic security solutions are available to consumers for free. This makes them very attractive, of course, but you may not get fully antivirus protection. In other words, your system is only protected from viruses that are already known, and not from those that are fresh and dangerous.

It is best to buy a cloud-based, real-time antivirus solution. This cloud-based software is proactive in its search for new threats, and will protect the users from any emerging threats. Once the activity has been noted, researchers will isolate it, investigate, develop countermeasures, and then deploy the fix in real time.

In addition to this virus protection, consumers should also have a firewall, anti-phishing protection, and a safety feature that will identify any risky websites. Almost all free software vendors include links within the programs, which attempt to sell “complete” or “premium” protection, which if you think about it, is really them just admitting that the security they offer is not adequate.