This era is one of instantaneous information, immediate communication and lightning Internet. But while, on the one hand, this has provided a lot of conveniences and changed the way we live our lives, on the other hand, it has also made threats against your safety an everyday concern. Virus and malware are one of the ways in which your data can be compromised.
You must hear terms like virus, malware, Trojans, worms etc. in everyday life. Few non-professionals don’t know the true distinction between them. Here it is, laid down in simple, easy to grasp the language.
What is Malware?
Malware is a casual term for ‘malicious software’. In essence, it includes any and every threat to your computer. It is a term for viruses, worms, Trojan horses and everything else. So to define it, it comes with malicious software with less than noble intentions. It is incredibly easy to mistakenly install malware on your system. All you have to do is click the wrong link or get the wrong e-mail attachment. However, a good anti-virus takes care of most of these threats.
What is Virus?
People often use the term virus to generically mean any sort of malicious software that infects their system. Viruses are highly specialized programs that alter your data, maybe even deletes it.
In the most cases, viruses come through malicious downloads that can damage your system. You may receive an innocent looking e-mail with an attachment, maybe even from an e-mail address you know, and once you download the attachment, the virus is in your system.
When you visit a certain website and download software, often viruses are downloaded along with it. Most viruses only come into operation once you execute the file that you have downloaded.
What is Trojan?
A Trojan is a program that looks genuine but has a disruptive agenda. The motive behind designing a Trojan is to get access to data inside a person’s computer. It gives access to your most sensitive data that may include credit card information. This is done by creating a backdoor. You can protect yourself against Trojans by downloading software and programs that come from known and verified sources, and not obtained by a random search on the Internet.
What is Worms?
The modus operandi of the worm is simple – it simply keeps replicating itself inside your system. If you notice that a file doesn’t go away even after being deleted, or when your disk space is full despite you not downloading or having that many programs or files, the culprit most likely is a worm. Worms don’t attach themselves to e-mails or downloaded software. They enter the computer through vulnerabilities in the system.
How to protect yourself?
Now that you know the distinction between the most common kinds of malicious programs, what can you do to protect yourself against them? Following are some simple precautions you can take to ensure that you’re protected from these threats.
- Get a good anti-virus
Most people have some kind of free anti-virus, or the one that comes bundled with the Windows program when you buy it. Though these are not bad or harmful, but they are inefficient in safeguarding your system. If you use the Internet, you need a professional anti-virus. Find a premium version that fits your needs. There are different types of antivirus for home and corporate. Update your anti-virus programs when you get an alert (which is almost daily in the good ones).
- Know what malicious programs look like
If you think your computer has become slow or there are some programs that look suspicious, it is always handy if you know what the problem is. May be it is a worm, a virus, a Trojan horse or something else. A basic idea of what they look like and what do they can help you here.
For example, instances of worms are W32.SillyFDC.BBY, Packed.Generic.236. JS.Debeski.Trojan is a Trojan horse.
- Be wary of e-mail attachment
Never download an email attachment without scanning it first. Services like gmail have virus scanners for attachments inbuilt, but a good anti-virus comes along with this email scanning service. No matter how genuine the e-mail looks or even if it is from your best friend, scan it first. If your friend’s system has been infected, there is a good chance a malicious attachment has been sent to you or any person in his e-mail contact list.
- Avoid the Third Party Downloads
The importance of this cannot be overemphasized. Do not go to websites by clicking on shortened URLs. Type the website address in the address bar. Do not download software from publishers you aren’t sure of. Be extra cautious while filling in your credit card information on a website.
- Have a Hardware-based firewall and deploy DNS
A firewall helps to protect your computer from different threats, including malicious web traffic. A firewall can also guard against viruses and worms, but don’t rely on just Firewall. The software-based Windows Firewall, however, isn’t strong enough and you will need to have a proper hardware based firewall.
From DNS attacks to visiting compromised web pages anything can infect your own PC, you will have to be wary of different threats. Therefore, the firewall does not protect your system alone. One of the ways you can guard yourself against this is by installing a firewall and changing the way your computer processes the DNA services. You can choose OpenDNS for instance, as it helps to guard you against various online threats like malware and spyware.
- Don’t Forget to Avoid Autorun
Inserted a Pen drive or a hard disk to your computer. Well, you need to be sure that the Autorun option is disabled and first scan the drive properly. Not doing so, your computer may get affected. Infected external drives with viruses are one of the most common ways to infect your computer.
- Check SSL before dealing with E-commerce:
It is quite necessary to check authenticity with SSL (Secure Socket Layer) while dealing with the website as cyber culprits can sniff the information or it may happen that the website has already any Trojan or virus. It is safe to deal with an online website that has implemented SSL security.
SSL secures the ongoing information with robust encryption so; another person could not intercept the traveling data. World’s most famous e-commerce websites (Facebook, Amazon, PayPal, eBay and other) bind their online information and transactions with highly trusted Extended Validation certificate on their website, which is a mark of maximum authentication.
- Regular Backup Your Data:
In case, if your computer is infected with a virus or malware, regular data backup helps to restore your data. It is sensible to encrypt all your data so in case if the data is stolen or lost, there are strong chances of being secured.
These are some of the basic measures that can help you to stay safe and keep your data secure even dealing with online. You should follow the above measurements regularly to keep unwanted virus or malware outside the boundary of your PC system. If you do think that you have been affected by malware, contact an expert instead of trying to diagnose it on your own.