Computing Insecurity; Fake Antivirus

The internet has enhanced our lives in nearly every way - connecting us to the people and information we care about, keeping us entertained, help us find answers we need and enabling us to be more productive than ever. However, as more of the things we do daily depend on the internet, online crime has risen in turn.

With the landing of the optic cable, we should brace ourselves to cyber crime. What is cyber crime anyway?

Scenario: A fellow's 'genuine' security software, which he normally sees as a flashing notice that his computer is infected with a virus, provided a link to software that can be downloaded after payment. He instead got a virus rather than an anti-virus.

Above scenario is an example of the ever increasing sophisticated and deceptive methods 'cyber crime' that are creeping into our online life.

These 'attacks' include Malware and Phishing.

Malware, is a software that a cyber criminal can use to steal your bank account information, track everything you type, send out malicious software or spam, or harm your computer.

Phishing, is where a cyber criminal pretends to be a legitimate organization, such as a bank, in order to deceive you into giving up personal information such as credit card numbers and account information. Read more on Simple tips on how to identify a phished Website

Both of these methods often involve tricking you into clicking on a link or downloading a file that appears legitimate, but is actually harmful.

The single most prevalent form of cybercrime is probably the fake anti virus (AV). Virtually everything we see today is fake AV. It's such a moneymaking scheme.The scam is popular because victims willingly purchase cheap bootleg AV at local shops or hand over their credit card numbers, thinking that they are purchasing legitimate software, and those credit cards can then be used at will.

Apple users are also not immunized from these attacks anymore, as they move their computer activities like storing photographs in remote servers managed by online companies. They'll have to take precautions that savvy PC owners have used for years to avoid identity theft.

Lately, mac users are known to be carefully directed to fake websites which pop-up phony warnings that their computers are infected with viruses. Users are scared into installing these applications that pretend to be virus blockers but are actually malicious code. Its goal is to get your credit card information which maybe used for deceitful intents.

Some of these fake anti-virus software for Macintosh include Macsecurity, Macdefender, Macprotector. These fake antiviruses are very well designed such as their grammar and spelling are correct, the buttons are attractive and they use a number of different screens. Their overall look and feel of these fake antiviruses give them a professional look.

For PC users, here's a scenario:

As Ngugi, a PC user puts it 'Yes, it’s true, fake anti-virus is a huge problem for the average user. Unfortunately, legitimate security software often also interferes with the normal operation of the computer. I can’t count the times that AV applications, have falsely reported and quarantined legitimate in-house business applications through the use of ‘heuristics’.

I agree, that it has gotten to a point where we can't really tell genuine from fake security software. In my own view many of these threats can be eased simply by keeping the software on your computer up to date - especially your web browser,  making sure that your copy of windows is fully updated (patched), using the windows firewall, and permanently removing internet security suites.' Read more on Make Computing Cheaper

It is also important to note that, a virus often attacks the following files explorer(.htm), dos(.bat), text editor(.txt), executable(.exe). Unfortunately, the trend of infection is mainly towards the office suite applications; so its prudent to take care of your office assignments and projects. Luckily, files such as audio(mp3), image(gif, jpeg, png), pdf, videos and flash (.swf only) are never affected by viruses; so your teenager's videos, pictures and music are safe.

Everyone is entitled to some privacy, therefore certain files are kept secret for various reasons. These range from simple to sophisticated. You can achieve this in several ways, one of the easiest methods is to select the folder you want to hide, go to the properties option of the folder and just click on hidden and apply the changes. Your folder will be invisible to other users. To show that folder, you have to change the settings in windows explorer or in the control panel folder options, by selecting 'show hidden files and folders'

To permanently erase files and prevent your confidential files from getting into wrong hands, microsoft offers a free command line utility 'SDelete' (secure delete) that overwrites all the free space to prevent data recovery. Another option is to use hide a file using software security application which provides more sophisticated options such as folder hide with password or folder lock. 

For browsers; older browsers simply aren't equipped to handle today's threats, and even some newer browsers don't provide the level of protection you need. It's prudent you view the enhanced security of the popular browsers such as Windows IE8 and Firefox 3.6.

By upgrading your browser today, making sure the other software on your PC is up to date, and learning how to identify and avoid common attacks, you can better protect your computer and your personal information. I hope in future, we can have all in one app for security.

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