Spyware and viruses
Spyware and viruses are software programs that are loaded on your computer without your knowledge or permission. They have various purposes, including :
♦ Changing the default search engine in your browser
♦ Tracking your Web surfing habits and showing you targeted advertising
♦ Using your email program to send out spam to other email addresses
♦ Stealing your personal information
Most spyware and viruses get on computers through files that we download from the Internet or as attachments to emails. They tend to take up a lot of
computing power and as a result, will significantly slow down your computer.
The simple rule of thumb to follow is to never download any free software programs from companies you do not know and trust, specially
screensavers,emoticons and the like. In addition, you should never open any attachment to an email unless you are 100 percent certain you know and trust the
sender. having an anti-virus installed on your computer will also help, but they don’t always catch everything.
Major Virus Symptoms
♦ Your system crashes or locks up often.
♦ It randomly restarts.
♦ You see strange error messages or pop-up boxes especially alerts about firewalls or viruses.
♦ Your system suddenly runs much slower, and the key here is suddenly.
♦ Computer suddenly takes minutes to load a web page, or suddenly takes 10 minutes to shutdown/start-up it's a good clue that you have a virus.
♦ You notice that files or folders have been deleted or changed.
Other Virus Clues
♦ New toolbars in your browser.
♦ New shortcuts on your desktop that you didn't put there.
♦ New items in the system tray at the bottom right hand corner of your screen.
♦ Don’t panic if you experience any of the above. You may have a hardware or software problem, rather than a virus, worm or Trojan.
♦ If necessary, contact your IT technician’s technical support department for further advice.
Use anti-virus software and keep it to-date
if you haven't installed anti-virus software on your computer, do it now. Anti-virus software can detect many, but not all forms of malicious software before they have a chance to affect your computer. When you purchase anti-virus software, look for one that includes anti-spyware. Most anti-virus software can automatically download updates for you. Check to make sure your software is downloading updates correctly.
Keep all your software up-to-date
You can prevent many problems by regularly checking for and installing updates for your programs, including your operating system, browser, messaging
software, and other software. Many programs include a feature that automatically checks for updates. Be wary of clicking links in emails claiming to have
updates for your software; it is safer to type the address of the web site into your browser’s Address bar to visit the site directly.
Check your security settings
Most operating systems have a built-in firewall and other safeguards to prevent unauthorized access to your computer. Check your operating system to make
sure it's set up so that your computer is protected. Install any security updates or patches for your operating system promptly.
Be careful opening email attachments
Consider turning off the feature in your email programs that automatically opens attachments. If you receive an attachment you aren't expecting, do not open it.
Before you open any email attachment, even if it's from someone you trust scan it using anti-virus software. Yahoo! Mail automatically scans all email
attachments for viruses.
Don't install unfamiliar programs
Think carefully before installing or running new software, such as freeware or shareware programs available online. Only download software from a source you
trust. Do not install software if you cannot verify that it's from a trusted source. Make sure you know what the software will do and how it will affect your
computer. Malicious software (like viruses and spyware) often masquerade as legitimate and even useful programs. For example, you might be tempted to
download a program that claims to keep your computer clock synchronized with an official clock. But if that program contains adware or spyware, it could also
display advertising pop-ups whenever you're online or keep track of where you go on the Internet.
Be wary of pop-up and email warnings
Don't believe every warning you read, especially pop-up warnings that you see while you're surfing the Web. Unscrupulous companies use pop-up ads to display false warnings about your computer. Ignore them.
Do NOT click any button in the pop-up (such as a "Close" or "No" button) or the Close box that may appear in the upper-right corner of the pop-up. Closing a
pop-up in that way might actually install a virus or other malicious software on your computer. To close a pop-up ad, press Ctrl-W (if you're using a
Windows computer) or Command-W (on a Mac computer). You may receive an email warning that claims to be from a computer "expert" warning
you of a virus.These are usually hoaxes. Do not follow the steps described in any email unless you're sure the threat is real.
Protecting your computer makes good sense
It can delete important data or programs from your hard disk. It can constantly display annoying pop-up ads. It can slow your computer to a crawl or stop it from
functioning. It can even help computer thieves steal your sensitive information and your identity.
It's malware, malicious software. And unless you take steps to prevent it from attacking your computer, you can be a victim of viruses, spyware, and adware.
What's even more frustrating is that these programs can be so well-hidden on your computer that you can't find and remove them without the help of an
anti-malware program. And in extreme cases, you may have to completely clean your hard disk and reinstall your operating system to rid yourself of thesepests.
Viruses can infect your computer and spread to your friends
A virus is a program that inserts itself into other programs, documents, or email attachments. If you open a document or click a link or attachment in an email,
you may download a virus. Once a computer is infected, a virus can do intentional damage, from slowing down a computer by overloading its memory, to
destroying important data or programs. The virus may attempt to infect other computers by emailing or instant messaging itself to everyone in your address
Spyware can lurk in other software
Spyware is software that gathers information about you without your knowledge or consent. It "records" what you do with your computer (such as the web sites
you visit) by tracking everything you type on your keyboard. Some spyware can even gather email addresses, passwords, and credit card information and
transmit it to the company or persons that produced the spyware. The data may then be sold to other companies that use it to display their ads to you, or used
by criminals to steal your identity. Spyware is often hidden in other software that is downloaded from the Internet.
Adware is more than annoying
Adware is software that displays advertising, such as pop-up ads, as you surf the Web. Some adware double as spyware and also collect your personal
information without your consent. Like spyware, adware can be installed when you download a program from the Internet or install software from disks. Adware
may not disclose its behavior before you install it or may not clearly identify itself as the source of ads.
Do I need to back up my computer?
Even if you've taken precautions to protect your computer from malicious software, other potential dangers could destroy the information it holds. A power surge,
lightning strike, hardware failure, or natural disaster could leave you without your important data or the use of your computer. backing up your files can help you
avert disaster. Backing up is simply making an electronic copy of files and storing that copy in a safe place. If you back up your files regularly, you can retrieve
some, if not all, of your information if something happens to the originals on your computer.
Here are some tips for backing up your computer:
♦Use an external hard disk, CDs, DVDs, or other storage medium for your backup copies. Or upload data to an Internet-based file storage service. Whatever you
do, don't just copy files to another location on your hard disk.
♦ Label the medium with the date and time of the backup. Don't erase the previous backup until you have made a new one.
♦ Back up anything you can't replace easily such as document, digital photos, music, video or any other project that have been saved to a computer..
♦ If you use an email program that is installed on your computer (such as Microsoft Outlook), back up important email messages and your email address book,
Some email programs include an export feature for backing up important data.
♦ If you use your computer occasionally, back up your data once a week. If you use your computer every day, a daily backup of the files you use most often or
modified that day is a good idea.
♦ To be sure you've backed up every file, use backup software. Your operating system may also include backup features.
♦ Make sure you have a copy of your operating system on a CD or DVD for re-installation in case your computer's hard drive fails. If your computer shipped
without a copy of the operating system, contact the manufacturer for a copy.