Sunday, April 14, 2013

Viruses and Spyware - What You Need To Know Part 1

In Part 1, I want to highlight some basic do's and dont's.

These are not exhaustive, but they do serve as a solid platform to work from.

So in no particular order, they are:


DO NOT open e-mail attachments with the following file extensions, even if you know the sender: .ade .adp .asx .bas .bat .chm .cmd .com .cpl .crt .exe .hlp .hta .inf .isp .isp .js .jse .lnk .mda .mdb .mde .mdz .msc .msi .msp .mst .pcd .pif .prf .reg .scf .scr .sct .shb .shs .url .vb .vbe .vbs .wsc .wsf .wsh

Even though the.doc/x &.xls/x file extensions have not been mentioned above, BE CAREFUL. Word & Excel documents can contain harmful Macros (A mini-program which will execute a series of commands in series). Also, it is now possible to infect a computer through some image file formats, primarily the WMF format, and recently JPG and BMP formats. This vulnerability can be addressed by making sure that your system is up to date with all Microsoft security patches. In addition, Adobe PDF files can be crafted to incorporate malicious content, so make sure you keep Adobe Reader up to date too.

DO NOT use Floppy Disks or USB Drives from unknown sources unless scanned first using your antivirus software, & even then be careful.

DO NOT believe any e-mail that tells you to delete Windows files stating that the virus cannot be detected by antivirus software. A lot of the time this is a hoax that tricks you into deleting critical Windows system files.

AVOID using Chat/Instant Messaging Software, they have A VERY HIGH POTENTIAL to compromise the security of your computer & NEVER accept attachments from Instant Messengers. Never install 3rd party upgrades to Messenger ie. Messenger Plus, and never download later versions of the Messenger program unless it is from the official website. AVOID using Internet Browser Add-Ins & toolbars like Yahoo & Google Companion, & never allow the installation of Hot Bar, My Search Bar etc, and be aware that social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook are targeted by the bad guys.

DO NOT install Peer To Peer (P2P) programs like KaZaA, Grokster, Limewire, WinMX, IMesh, Bear Share etc, unless you want to risk getting viruses and spyware installed onto your system, and the distinct possibility of virus infection & hacker attacks. All of these things are a security risk. They open up your computer to the internet & there are viruses written specifically targeting them. The same applies to Torrent software like BitTorrent.

DO NOT download & install free Screensavers. They are notorious for containing spyware.

DO NOT visit Porn, Casino, Pirate Software & Game Cheat sites. They are notorious for putting viruses & spyware on your computer.

DO NOT click on any links in e-mails that say they are from your bank, or from Microsoft. These organisations never send unsolicited e-mails and it is a trick to make you give up your User Name & Password.

DO NOT believe any Pop-Up Window that tells you that Spyware has been detected on your computer.

DON'T BOTHER with Internet Download Accelerators or Memory Optimisers.


DO use good antivirus software. I recommend Norton Internet Security, but if you are looking for a free solution then Avast is my choice.

DO regular checks for later versions of your antivirus software if it doesn't do it itself. Most products should update not only their virus definitions but the program itself.

DO regular Windows Updates and download Critical/Security updates.

DO use software like Malwarebytes & keep it up to date.

Be sure to run scans regularly and check for later versions regularly. There is spyware around that cannot be removed by these programs, so the best solution is not to get the spyware in the first place. Prevention is better than cure.

DO use a program like Mailwasher to check e-mails before downloading them from the Mail Server.

If you are an advanced user, you can install Firewall software. I recommend ZoneAlarm.

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