9 Ways to Minimize the Risks of Malware


Malware sounds a bit like an illness. It’s associated with hackers and general Internet bad guys and seems undecipherable to all but the geekiest of computer nerds.
In this guest blog post, Midphase customer and Malware expert Bev Robb explains the basics of Malware and gives 9 simple steps that can help protect you from attack:

Malware Basics

Malware is a composition of the wordsmalicious? andsoftware? and, simply put, is unwanted software that someone else wants to run on your computer.

Malware encompasses a wide range of damaging software such as Adware, Botnets, Crimeware (phishing), Rootkits, Spyware, Trojans, Viruses, and Worms. Malware is always intrusive, often hostile, and can operate secretly in stealth mode (eg:? rootkits) or out in the open with annoying pop-ups and fake system alerts (eg: fake anti-virus warnings).

The bad guys use many tricks to try and get their malware onto your computer. This includes methods such as: fake anti-virus alerts and software, web browser hijacking, and tricking you into clicking on a web or email link and downloading malware from an unscrupulous website. Malware can also come bundled in software packages from p2p file sharing, freeware, music files, and warez sites.

Malware authors, affiliates, and their supporting companies do not have your best interests at heart.? They want your computer, they want your $$$’s, and they want it now; but by following some simple precautions you can help make your web experience a safe one.

9 Ways to Minimize the Risk of Malware Infection

1- Use your head. The Internet is an open community with good guys and bad guys out there. You?d think twice about inviting a stranger into your home , so think twice about what strange software you want to invite onto your computer.

2- Keep your operating system and application software up to date and patched so your computer will be protected against the latest known security vulnerabilities. Windows users can do this automatically by scheduling windows automatic updates.

3- Always keep your anti-virus, anti-spyware, and anti-malware software current and up to date, and schedule regular scans. I recommend the following software for starters:

  • Threatfire 3a neat tool that blocks the installation of malware.
  • Kaspersky Anti Virus 2010great antivirus software with comprehensive phishing and identity theft protection, they also offer a free scanning service too.
  • AVG free Anti-Virus is by far the best free anti-virus software
  • Secunia Software Inspectorwill scan your PC and check for any vulnerabilities.
  • Malwarebytesdetects and removes malware and is one of the best on the market today. The paid version offers real-time protection and IP blocking while the free version does not offer scheduling so must be run manually.

4- Use a firewall. Follow this link for more information on how to choose a firewall.

5- Always use Strong Passwords and don?t use the same password for everything!

6- Avoid using FTP – Straight FTP is insecure and all files, passwords and anything else can be sniffed. Always use FTPS (FTP over SSL) or SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol) encryption instead!

7- Consider purchasing Sandboxie, a smart tool that creates a virtual environment (or sandbox) on your PC isolated from your operating system and is great for application isolation, secure Web browsing, and opening email attachments in isolated space. As an example, the other day I was browsing an RSS site and was worried about some of the ads on the site.? I opened thesandboxed web browser? and even though I picked up a virus (HTML/crypted.gen) it was isolated to the sandbox and did not affect my operating system.

Sandboxie, a smart tool that creates a virtual environment on your PC.

8- Always make regular backups of your operating system and personal data, so if you do get infected, you can always revert to a clean version of your system.

9- Lock-down your web-browser. You can do this by upgrading to Internet Explorer 8 or downloading Firefox and installing the following add-ons:

SiteAdvisor software adds safety ratings to your browser and search engine results.

For further information please visit http://www.teksquisite.com/blog/. If you have something interesting to say and would like write for the Midphase blog please send your article suggestions to: editor [at] midphase.com