Tech Notes

This page is a loose collection of thoughts, observations and opinions on computer technology and how it impacts us on a daily basis. Not meant to be a gearhead's page - there are plenty of websites for that.

 

They're out to get you.

Computer viruses, trojans, worms, dialers and other sorts of malware can...

- damage your computer's operating system, causing annoying glitches and downtime
- seize all the contacts in your E-mail address book and send them reams of unsolicited commercial E-mail (a.k.a. Spam)
- seize all the contacts in your E-mail address book and send (or re-send) a virus payload to them, causing THEM to send reams of Spam
- send reams of Spam while stamping YOUR name as the origin
- seek out your private information and send it to an unscrupulous marketing company anywhere in the world, for purposes of identity theft, bank theft, fraud, extortion etc.
- force your Web browser to navigate to a homepage of ITS choice (not yours)
- direct DDoS attacks on websites to force them to shut down
- force your dialup modem to telephone a 1-900 number in an obscure island republic, racking up hundreds of dollars in charges

Malware is...

- possibly motivated by individual or corporate greed, desperation, revenge, psychological disorder, a very twisted view of society, or any combination of these
- distributed by E-mail (via attachments or Java scripts), websites, file-sharing networks, port probing
- lately, often disguised as malware removal tools!
- due to a recently discovered hole in Internet Explorer, not only a *.exe or *.scr, but potentially disguised as any other kind of file as well!
- written by bloody jerks who should be - along with their families and employers - shot and distributed to endangered animal species for food

You can - and MUST - protect yourself...

- Realize the very real danger to all computer users, especially those who use popular Microsoft products and are connected to the Internet.
- Keep up-to-date on the latest security developments and how to cope.
- If you run Windows NT, 2000, XP or Vista, learn how to set up user groups and permissions. Only the administrator (you, as a mature, responsible adult) should have access to the most important OS settings.
- Learn how to tweak the security settings in your Web browser and E-mail client. For instance, consider reading your E-mail in plain text only. Disable automatic downloads at websites.
- If necessary, visit some reputed websites for help. www.pcqanda.com is my favorite; free registration.
- Use a firewall and reputable anti-virus software. Keep them both updated every week at least.
- Use reputable freeware defense tools such as Ad-Aware, Spybot Search & Destroy, SpywareBlaster. These three are an absolute must for Windows users! Keep them updated weekly as well. That somebody had the conscience to write and distribute them means that there is hope for the human race yet. Remember to donate to their authors when you have the chance.
- Use your damn noggin! Don't go off visiting every silly website offering free games, porno and warez. You'll pay for it, one way or the other.

 

 

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