1. What are the major security threats on my network and computers connected to the network? There are cybercriminals who commit crimes using the computers and networks. They spread malicious viruses through the networks such as worms and Trojan horses. They hack other people’s computers to steal important data and identity or destroy data. A hacker uses a packet sniffer to intercept the unencrypted network traffic and capture the passwords or other important information which was communicated through the network. Botnet or a Zombie computer is a computer which a hacker uses to spread viruses and to commit cybercrimes while the owner of the computer is unaware of it.
2. What types of viruses do I should be aware of? A boot-sector virus is a virus that infects the Master Boot Record and the infected code is executed when you boot your computer. A boot-sector virus is spread by an infected USB drive. A logic bomb is programmed to run at an event such as opening a file or launching an application. A time bomb is executed when a certain time is reached. A worm self-replicates and spreads through a network connection and a file sharing. A script virus is a program written in a scripting language that infects your computer when you click an infected advertisement and a video clip. A macro virus is programmed with a scripting language that is recognized Microsoft programs and spreads throughout Word documents and spreadsheets. An e-mail virus comes through an e-mail attachment and when you open the file, the virus is distributed to everyone in your address book. The Melissa virus is an example of the e-mail viruses. An encryption virus encrypts itself and it is difficult to detect.
3. How does my computer catch viruses? Your computer will be infected with viruses when you download an infected file such as audio, video, and software on the Web. Opening an e-mail attachment which has a malicious code, sharing infected files and flash drives with other people will also cause a virus infection. Clicking a link in an infected advertisement or visiting unsecured web sites can be the cause of an infection. You should make sure not to click Accept button in a pop-up window without reading the contents.
4. How do I know whether my computer is infected with a virus? When your computer is infected with a virus, the computer programs, icons, or files disappear. Unusual messages and pop-ups are displayed and unfamiliar music is played. It takes longer than usual to shut down or boot up the computer. And the computer restarts continuously. Antivirus program stops working and doesn’t start. Files have more than one extension. Suddenly, an application is closed or your computer shuts down by itself.
5.What software do I need to protect my computer from virus infections? To prevent virus infections, you need antivirus software such as Symantec, Kaspersky, and McAfee. Antivirus software detects and removes viruses and malware. You can run antivirus software manually or schedule automatic scans. You should make sure your antivirus software is up to date to protect your computer from a new virus. Operating systems come with antivirus software such as Windows Defender. You should also update your operating system frequently and run antivirus software whenever you click a suspicious link on the Web or download something. However, any antivirus software has its limitations. You still should take other network security precautions as well.
6. How does antivirus software work? Symantec, Kaspersky, and McAfee have similar capabilities. Antivirus software identifies computer viruses and malware based on the definitions of known viruses or detects suspicious activities using data mining techniques. Then, antivirus software deletes the infected file or remove the virus from the file. It also quarantines the file so that the file will not spread its virus. Quarantining is a process in which antivirus software isolates the virus on the hard drive so that it doesn’t infect the system. Antivirus software inoculates your files to prevent future infections. Inoculation means that antivirus software records the properties of your files and when a virus attempts to alter your files, it identifies the virus.
7. How can hackers access my computer? They use a packet analyzer or packet sniffer, a Trojan horse to steal your personal information. A packet analyzer is a program that allows hackers to intrude a network traffic and monitor all the data that passes through the network, especially when you are using a public network or your network is not encrypted. Trojan horse is a program that might be delivered by an e-mail attachment or something that seems harmless. Once a Trojan virus is installed on your computer, it installs rootkits that give hackers a full control of your computer. Then they use your computer to spread viruses and attack other people’s computers.
8. What damages can hackers cause? If hackers steal your credit card, bank account, and personal information, they will steal your money from your bank account, use your credit card to buy something, and open new credit cards or bank accounts with your personal information. They will hurt your credit and the finance. When they gain a control of your computer, they can do anything with your computer such as deleting all your files. They might use your computer to launch denial-of-service attacks on other computers. When a server computer has a denial-of-service attack, a legitimate user cannot use the resources because continuous requests from many hacked computers overwhelm the server and crash it.
9. How can I secure my network? First, you should install a firewall. A firewall is software or a device that blocks hackers, viruses, and malware from accessing to your network system. Second, you should create strong passwords that nobody can guess. Third, you can hide your browsing activities from others by opening an Incognito window on Google Chrome, Private Browsing on Firefox, and InPrivate on Internet Explorer. These private windows don’t record your browsing history. Fourth, when you are using a public computer, you can use a portable privacy device such as the Ironkey Personal Flash Drive or take Linux OS with you on a flash drive. Ironkey Personal Flash Drive is an encrypted flash drive that stores sensitive data and passwords and they are safe from viruses and malware.
10. How do firewalls protect my computer from hackers? A firewall restricts access to your network by filtering and blocking packets based on the sender’s and receiver’s Internet Protocol addresses. A proxy firewall acts as an intermediary between a client and a server, and it retrieves information and sends to the client. A proxy firewall uses stateful inspection technology to monitor incoming information and restricts network packets through the firewall. A firewall uses network address translation or NAT to assign IP addresses to each device which is connected to your network and makes it harder for hackers to break the network security.
11. How can I create and manage my passwords to protect my computer? You should create strong passwords which are hard to crack. You can uses a long phrase which has more than 14 characters. You should include upper case and lower case, numbers, and special characters. You should avoid dictionary words. You shouldn’t use the same password for all other accounts. And you should change your passwords regularly. If you cannot remember all your passwords, you can use password management tools to store your passwords for you. LastPass, Dashlane, and KeePassX are password manager apps you can use.
12. What are online annoyances and how do I manage them? When you use the Internet, you see advertisements everywhere. Adware is a program that displays advertisements, redirects you to advertising websites, and collects data about you. Spyware is usually installed when you install something from the Internet. Once it runs on your computer, it collects the information of your online activities. But a keystroke logger spies on your keystrokes to steal passwords and credit card information. Antivirus software also detects and removes most of adware and spyware. Spam is unsolicited commercial e-mail and junk e- mail. To avoid spam, you can use a spam filter such as SPAMfighter. Yahoo! and Outlook already have a spam filter.
13. What are cookies? When you visit a website, the website sends a cookie that is a packet of data to your computer to record your login information and keep track of your activity. When you come back to the website, it remembers your settings such as shopping cart items or your preferences. Cookies cannot spread viruses or malware to your computer, but some sites might share your information with web advertisers. If you delete cookies from your hard drive, it will be inconvenient when you revisit the website and have to enter the information again.
14. How can I keep my personal information safe? Make sure that you don’t share any sensitive information about yourself, such as social security number, address, phone number, and date of birth. You can change your privacy settings on a social network to restrict sharing information. For example, you can change from public sharing to friends sharing or not sharing. You should be careful not to lose your portable devices. If you install a tracking software on your device, when your device is stolen, you can track your device or remotely delete all your data on the device.
15. How do keep the data on my computer safe? You should back up your files regularly so that you can replace the original files when they are destroyed by hackers or viruses. You need to back up program files and data files. You can have either an incremental backup or an image backup. An incremental backup is updating the last changes in your files. An image backup is copying everything on your computer. You can back up your files in the cloud, on the external hard drives, or on a network-attached storage, or NAS, device.
16. What is social engineering and what are the examples? Social engineering is manipulating people to provide their personal information by using social skills and creating a scenario so that people could believe. Examples of social engineering are phishing, pharming, and scareware. Phishing lures a victim to expose his personal information by using social networking, such as e-mail, Instant Messaging, and texting. When a victim clicks the link provided in the e-mail, the web site seems legitimate and he might enter his personal information. Pharming plants malicious code on your computer or Domain Name System (DNS) server and directs you to the wrong website when you enter a certain Web address. Scareware tricks you to purchase or download malware by falsely alerting you that your computer is infected with viruses. When you click any button on the pop-up window, a malware is downloaded.
17. How can I avoid social engineering scams? You shouldn’t click on a link in your e-mail directly to visit the website or provide your personal information. Unless the website has the closed padlock and https, you shouldn’t give personal information. You can install phishing filters of Internet security software. When scareware pops up, you shouldn’t click or download anything. You should just close the browser. And turn on the pop-up blockers.