This week we are looking at the dark side of the Internet and specifically how to be a street-wise Internet user.
Malware is defined as computer software that is malicious in nature. It is generally understood to be software created to disrupt, damage or collect information from you without your knowledge.
An example of malware that is disruptive is popup advertising. You have all seen the annoying ads for pharmaceuticals, mortgages or legal services that popup as you use the Internet. They are easily controlled by enabling the popup blocker in your browser.
Trojans and worms are examples of malware that can damage your computer. These programs get into your computer by attaching themselves to programs or files that are frequently downloaded. They can also attach themselves to web pages and email messages. Once in your computer, they can release a virus or gather up information and send it back to the hacker that wrote it. Reputable anti-virus software packages will effectively block worms and Trojans.
Keyloggers, spyware and phishing scams are examples of malware that is designed to collect information about your or from you, without your explicit knowledge. Once they have gathered your information, usually usernames and passwords to your financial accounts, they allow criminals to access your accounts and help themselves. Defending against keyloggers and spyware can be done primarily by not opening email attachments from unknown senders and using one of the commercially anti-spyware products. Websites that off "free" software or music downloads are great places to get infected with spyware - try to avoid them.
Phishing scams are much more difficult to defend against because their target is you and not a computer component or system. The hackers that create phishing scams are using psychology and social engineering to gather the information that they need. As a result, you have to be very aware and almost suspicious of every email you receive and website that you visit.
You can see a current state of virus and other threats here.
Have you ever been the target of a phishing scam? Did you recognize it as a scam right away? What tipped you off? Blog about your experiences with malware or phishing attempts - do not provide any information which may lead to a phishing attempt.
Which web 2.0 tools would you like to find more about?
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Congratulations on finishing this course. There is just one more thing to do. Add this blog to your rss feeds as we plan on adding posts about other tools of interest in the coming weeks.
Ellen and Mylee