Saturday, July 7th, 2012
There’s all kinds of buzz about the potential loss of internet access come Monday. What’s all the fuss about and is there really cause for concern?
There is if your computer is affected with a virus called DNSChanger.
What is DNSChanger?
It’s the name of a virus unleashed by cybercriminals living in Estonia over 5 years ago. DNSChanger infected over 4 million computers in over 100 countries. The hackers hijacked searches and routed them to fake websites with illegal ads that allowed them to make over $14 million.
The FBI investigation called Operation Ghost Click took two years and while those responsible were arrested in 2011 and their servers became property of the FBI, the government is getting the word out to warn those still affected to check their computers for the malware. Over 500,000 U.S. computers belonging to individuals, businesses, and government agencies were originally affected.
If you’re concerned that you could be affected, check your machine with a single click by clicking on http://www.dns-ok.us/. You’ll either get a green light signaling that your machine is ok or be warned that additional steps need to be taken to rid your computer of the DNSChanger virus.
Whether or not you’re affected, it’s always a good idea to protect your machine on a regular basis. Ensure that your virus protection is current. Free antivirus software is available from companies like AVG. If you purchase virus protection, be aware that the license is often only good for a year and will need to be renewed.
Also be sure to back up your files. Use automated software that will run the backup for you so you won’t have to remember to do it. Have a copy of your computer’s data on an external hard drive or cloud backup in the event of a malware attack.
For more information about Malware, read my previous post called Malware 101 that provides a quick rundown on the 4 most common forms of malware: Trojan Horses, spyware, worms, and viruses.
Grunge access denied rubber stamp via Shutterstock
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Monday, March 12th, 2012
Malware. Chances are you’ve heard about it in the forms of viruses and spyware but what is it and why exactly is it so bad for your computer? Things like Trojan horses, viruses, worms, and spyware are created with the sole intent of damaging your computer. Over time, malware can take over your computer, making it sluggish and hampering its performance. If you’ve ever noticed that it takes a long time for files to load or your web browser seems to take forever to load a site, it could be the result of malware.
Here’s a quick rundown on the 4 most common forms of malware and how they can negatively affect your computer:
Trojan Horses get their name from Greek mythology and their deceptive nature. In the case of computer related Trojan Horses, they’re applications that might not be what it appears. Trojan Horses install themselves on your computer by clicking on a legitimate looking piece of software, an online game, or even antivirus software. Clicking on a Trojan Horse will automatically cause it to run, often erasing your hard drive in the process.
Worms are invisible files that make their way through the memory on your machine, multiplying as they go. As worms multiply, they occupy more and more of your computer’s memory and space on your hard drive. They are a form of computer virus that makes your machine sluggish.
Spyware watches as you use your computer and works to capture usernames and passwords and credit card information. This information is often sent to spyware creators over the internet who use your data as a way to make money. Like worms and viruses, spyware often comes through email attachments. To prevent spyware from running, avoid clicking on anything suspicious.
Viruses are computer scripts that are often attached to email attachments. If an email from a friend has a strange looking subject line and contains an attachment, opening that attachment will unleash the virus on to your computer. Viruses run silently in the background and often create, move, or erase files. They’re also memory hogs that can slow the speed of your computer, making it impossible to multitask.
How do you protect yourself and your computer against malware? Installing antivirus software, such as the free Microsoft Security Essentials, is the first line of defense. If you purchase antivirus software, be aware that the licenses expire so ensure that your license is current and active so it can continue to protect your PC.
Virus disaster via Shutterstock
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