The Internet is a powerful medium that allows millions of users to chat, play games, download music, gather important information, and perform other various activities. All this has made the Internet an indispensable part of our daily lives. Although the Internet is useful, it also puts our personal and confidential information at substantial risk. Using the Internet unwisely may make your system vulnerable to malware infections and an easy target for hackers. This article lists the most common threats that exist when using the Internet. Although you might think you will never face these threats it is clear that everyone should be aware of them. The purpose of this article is to analyze the most common security threat faced by Internet users. There was an estimated 360,985,492 Internet users in world in 2009 which increases to 6,845,609,960 in 2010. Currently 81,000,000 users are using Internet in India. Due to large number of Internet users, it is probable that many of them are unaware of these common threats.
1. Suspicious E-Mail with attachments –The most common technique used by hackers is to send malware to their targets, and when the targets turn on their computers or run certain programs, they will trigger a Trojan horse or Remote Administration Tool (RAT) which hackers can use to gain remote access to the targets’ machines.
A report says that 90% of messages are spam messages. If you receive a suspicious e-mail from a stranger or even from your friend remember to be cautious with the attachment files. You all heard about lottery scam these days. It is unexpected email with notification “You have won!!” It asks you to contact agent for details. After contacting the agent, the target of the scams will be asked you to pay “processing fees” or “transfer charges” so that winnings can be distributed, but will never receive any lottery payment. It is wise not to believe such lottery E-Mail.
If the language used in the message is not normal, it contains a lot of spelling errors, or the message is written by foreign language, it is wise not to open the attachment file. It can be a spam message sent by a virus or even someone trying to get you runs a program in order to gain access to your computer. 95 percent of these files have the extensions of .pif, .scr, .exe, .com, .vbs, .bat, .cmd or .hta and users should immediately delete any such files without running them, unless they are explicitly aware of their origin and purpose.
A new technique that is gaining in popularity sees hackers hide malicious code within common file types such as Microsoft Word (.doc), Microsoft Excel (.xls), and Adobe Acrobat (.pdf). Installing anti-malware software and using it to scan even trusted file types is essential, although it cannot guarantee 100 percent protection against such threats.
If you are not sure that the attached file is safe it’s a good idea to send a reply and ask more info about it. If the message is clearly pure spam – which can be usually determined just by looking at the subject of the message – just ignore it and delete the message without even opening it.
2. Social network attacks are a serious cyber security threat due to the popularity of social networks, which users can access not only by computer, but also by mobile phone.
”The more personal information you put out, the easier hackers can reach you,”
Hackers use new techniques called ”intelligence information gathering”, which is more advanced than searching by Google, to carry out targeted attacks. Hackers use software that can link to the back-office of Facebook and Twitter and can search in-depth information from web servers. Many users also don’t know that the information they publish on social networks is easily searched by Google. Users must use social network programs conscientiously and avoid unnecessarily publishing any sensitive or personal information, the expert noted.
The greatest Internet threat in 2010 will be social network attacks and hacking. Social Engineering is one of the largest preventable threats. Hackers can call or email members pretending to be from legitimate institutions and ask the member to verify personal information or passwords.
How to protect yourself from social engineers:
a) Be careful not to disclose information to someone you don’t know over the phone, through email, or when using the Internet.
b) Don’t share personal information though Internet chat rooms.
c) Understand how information will be used before sharing it with merchants.
d) Know if you have a choice in how your information is used and shared.
e) Don’t include your Account Number, Passport details or other personal information on requests.
3) Communication – Internet is a great medium for being in touch with people. And just like you do in you normal everyday life you should pay attention to who are you giving your personal information. You should pay perhaps even more attention since you can’t tell anything about the other person as you do in real life eye-to-eye situation. Anyone can pretend to be anything in the Internet. Pay very careful attention when giving up your personal information. You can compare the situation in Internet to having a conversation in telephone. If you are going to meet someone you’ve met online, you would like to do it in a public place.
These are the most common risks almost everyone will face when using the Net. Even if you don’t run into any of these threats it is important to realize that they exist. Now that you are aware of all this you can forget your futile fears and focus on the essential – what ever you do – this is the way you will be able to get the most of using the Internet.
4) Automatically downloading programs – Some websites try to install programs or add-ons to your computer. Usually you will be prompted by a window asking rights to the installation. A good rule of thumb is to always decline the installation. It is unlikely that you will need any extra programs for viewing the information you are looking for in the first place. However, sometimes a program or an extra plugin can be needed. If the web site is hosted by some big and trusted company you can rely on it is okay to install the software. However, you should always pay careful attention to what you install to your computer.
5) Fake pages – These pages are made for pretending to be something they are not. User may receive a fake e-mail with a link to a page that looks just like an authentic webpage of some service he/she is using. The user is tricked to enter the fake page and when he/she enters the confidential information e.g. username and password, the data is not send where the user supposes it is, but instead collected and afterwards used for illegal purposes. Pay always close attention that the page you are visiting is what it claims to be. One way to be sure of it is to always write the address to the address bar by yourself or use your own bookmarks when entering confidential websites.
6. Misleading popup windows – A popup window is a window that pops up in front of the other windows when you are browsing the web. Because of their great visibility popup windows have become a common way to show advertisements in the Internet. The popup windows you should avoid are the ones that open automatically when you enter a webpage. Nowadays the ways advertisers use the popup windows to catch the surfers attention have come to the limits. In some messages user may be showed an official-looking window announcing the user’s computer is infected by a virus or an ultra colorful blinking message telling they have just won a million dollars. These are nothing but blatant lies trying to get the user to click on the ads – and that are especially what you should avoid the most. If you click one of those messages it is most likely that you are brought to a webpage that tries to install some software, very likely containing some nasty things such as adware or spyware. It’s a good idea to enable a plugin that blocks unwanted popup windows if your web browser supports it.
7. Lack of security awareness/Changing cultures of Generation Y. The majority of Internet users are teenagers and people of working age, which includes ”Generation Y”, or the so-called ”Click-Through Generation”. These people are usually not concerned about security of information. The Gen-Y just clicks ‘Yes’ or ‘OK’ on Internet pop-ups and they always put personal information on social networks without realizing that this could be dangerous. Many people are deceived in this way into transferring money over the Internet. Awareness of threats is thus essential when accessing the Internet.
Ways you can protect yourself from viruses, worms and trojans:
a) Purchase or install free Anti-Virus software and update it daily before checking your email.
b) Obtain all Microsoft security updates.
c) Be SUSPICIOUS.
d) Do not open ANY unexpected email attachments.
e) Do not download or install unauthorized software.
f) Do not leave a Pen Drive in the floppy disk drive when you shut down or restart the computer. Write-protect your floppy disks after you have finished writing to them.
g) Verify that the author of the email has sent the attachments. Newer viruses can send email messages that appear to be from people you know or sites you routinely visit.
Conclusion: Internet, while very useful, is not to be taken lightly. Every Internet user should be aware and educated of the threats and vulnerabilities that surround the Internet and know what to do to protect themselves against these known threats. New Internet security threats will likely arise in the coming months and years, and therefore will require users to become even more proactive in defending their computer systems. It is always important to know the risks of any activity a person chooses to pursue in life, and the Internet is no exception. There are many good sources on the Internet for current and past threats and how to setup a defense against them. The irony is that you can use the Internet to learn how to make your Internet surfing more secure. In conclusion, the Internet is full of useful material but this comes at a risk. It is important to develop safe surfing habits and a strong security plan before connecting to and utilizing the Internet.
Some good and common free antivirus list
- Panda Cloud Antivirus – Free Cloud Antivirus Software
- Immunet Pro – Free Cloud Antivirus Software
- AVG 9 Antivirus Free Edition – Free Windows Antivirus Software
- Comodo Internet Security – Free Windows Internet Security Suite
- BitDefender 10 antivirus Free Edition – Free BitDefender antivirus
- Microsoft Security Essentials
Cloud-based antivirus software does not store the virus definitions on your Windows computer. Rather than using your computer’s processing power, this cloud based antivirus sends data about potentially malicious files to the company’s servers for analysis. This approach is intended to take advantage of the latest signatures without the need for signature-database updates. You do not need to be connected to the Internet all the time in order to be protected. Cloud Antivirus stores a “local cache copy” of Collective Intelligence for offline operation. As soon as you disconnect, Cloud Antivirus still works in the background, checking every file against its local cache of detections.