Bet I Know Your Password

I’ve been on the Internet a long time. In that time, I’ve visited about a zillion websites that required a username and password. OK, maybe it just seemed like zillion. Anyway, I’ve learned my lesson early – don’t divulge anyone with complete credentials.

First, let’s discussing what we mean by computer credentials. Computer access in the office affecting a conversation you have with a customer or a sales person or in some cases directly affecting your livelihood involves specific permissions having to do with the computer system you are using and its use. The Internet is a big system and requires a lot of permissions to access what should be a private system.

Computers in the office are to some extent ‘owned’ by the employer. This means that when they go online, they introduced a system that is managed by someone other than themselves. They might have a child in tow or might be using the computer for some other reason. Whatever the reason, you have to have that in mind when you start to think about online risks.

So let’s start from scratch. What do we mean by computer credentials? To begin with, let’s distinguish between real computer identities and virtual computer identities. A virtual identity is a nickname that a user might apply to a computer in order to temporarily allow them access to a certain program. In other words, they could access a computer from a different country or they could be using a different browser or they could be using a different operating system. In this case, the user has to possess the appropriate browser plug-ins, which will allow a remote user to use the computer.

From a more serious point of view, about 1% of computers are infected by some form of keylogger software. Some of these are merely annoying and can be cleaned easily; others are malicious and will actually launch a widespread attack on computers.

These are the most common ways that your computer can be attacked. Now, what are the most common attacks?

1. Virus

A virus is a self-replicating program that can spread by either sending itself to other computers by way of an executable file or via a network. They are able to either cause damage to the files that they have infected or they can do damage to other programs on the system by opening up security holes.

2. Worms

Worms are also self-replicating programs that are able to propagate by sending themselves to other computers by way of executable files. They also launch themselves via network interfaces, much like viruses.

3. Trojans

Trojans are also self-replicating programs that can propagate by selfishly attacking any computer that is vulnerable. They especially like to attack systems that use Windows NT, because of its emphasis on the user-oriented operating systems.

4. Adware

Adware is also a self-replicating program that can propagate by displaying advertisements on your computer. It is particularly dangerous because it will display these advertisements in pop-up windows that can be very hard to close. Besides advertising, it can also install programs that will itself run every time you boot your system.

5. Spyware

Spyware is also a self-replicating program that can propagate by sending sensitive information back to its creator. It can be used to send information back to its creator, for example, download names and passwords, which will be written directly into the spyware’s executable file.

These are the most common types of malicious programs and can be identified by doing a little research online and by installing a reliable piece of adware/malware protection programs.

Only when you have identified what ails your computer, you can decide if a simple DDoS attack is something you can afford to take on,” says Michael Danseglio, senior director, Microsoft Business Services, which provides support and training for networks and IT.

To ensure that your network is safe, here are some measures to take:

Do not give out important information over the Internet in response to an email.

Do not click on links that may install spyware or other harmful programs on your computer.

Always scan all files, folders and programs on your computer with the free scans offered by your favorite anti-virus and anti-spyware programs.

Only run email attachments through a virus protection program that can scan them for viruses.

Avoid downloading files from sources you are not familiar with.

Ensure that your anti-virus and anti-spyware software is up-to-date.

If you have a wireless Internet connection, disable any form of malicious programs that may be sending your data over the Internet.

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