The Internet…Convenience, Interaction,Inspiration and What Else?
Cyber security is about protecting your computer and online accounts against threats that may damage your computer or cause you to lose your personal information or suffer monetary loss. Cyber criminals target you in many different ways: through software threats which you can inadvertently download, or through spam and scams in which you must exercise discernment in order not to fall for them. Cyber thieves can also hack into your computer or account to steal your identity to commit crimes.
Malware is basically malicious software which you (typically) inadvertently download into your computer and mobile device. They are commonly known as viruses and depending on how they function or spread, they are also called worms, bots and Trojan horses. The Internet offers a large number of computer software, freeware, games, game cracks, music and video files for downloading. The most common ways of getting infected by viruses are through downloading these files, downloading infected email attachments and documents, as well as using infected storage devices such as USB drives. One can also be infected by clicking on adware or spyware that can innocuously monitor your internet surfing habits or even change your computer settings.
Cookies are small text files which are saved onto your computers by a website to remember your preferences and personalization. This makes for a smoother surfing browsing experience. Cookies are commonly used in e-commerce websites to remember the items in your "shopping cart" and are usually deleted after you leave the site, or have not visited for a few days. However some cookies are malicious and even after being deleted, they can recreate themselves in some other location in the computer.
Browser hijacking is a malicious activity where hijackers change the browser setting of your computer, forcing your browser to keep linking to sites that you don't want to go, or adding toolbars and favourites that you are not interested in. It also slows down your computer and you can't seem to go anywhere else. Browser hijacking is less likely to happen if you stick to trusted and legitimate sites. If your browser has been hijacked, reset the browser stting, or reinstall your browser.
Spam is unsolicited bulk messages sent through email, sms, instant messaging, and fax. Spam can also occur in chatrooms and in blogs. Most of the time, it is harmless but annoying marketing messages. But spam can also be used to collect sensitive information or to spread viruses and other malware.
Just like scams in the real world, online scams are largely out to trick you of your money or to divulge personal information such as your bank account and credit card details. Online scams come in many guises:
Phishing is when someone attempts to lure you into revealing your personal information such as your login details, passwords or credit card information through emails (usually from a financial institution) or web pages that look legitimate but are actually fake. Some signs to look out for that may suggest it is a phishing email:
Scamware is software that poses as legitimate but is actually fake, and may wreak havoc once installed. Most scamware is advertised through online pop-up alerts or banners that try to convince a user that there is something wrong with their computer and then sell them a fake solution. It's sometimes also known as "scareware" because it largely operates by terrifying users into buying a product they don't need, usually an anti-virus or some other "tune-up" software.
In a new report1 by Symantec, "ransomware" is on the rise. This is scamware that usually masquerades as messages from law enforcement agencies. Clicking on them will simply freeze your computer, after which the scammers will try to extort money from you in exchange for unlocking it.
You probably have seen many of these scam mails and postings before. They typically ask you to send money first in order to receive more money or get one good deal or another. Most of these scams and fraud rely on the greed and gullibility of users.
Cyber criminals find many ways on the internet to steal your personal information and identity to commit fraud. They can spread viruses to your computers to discover your passwords, usernames and credit card information. They can also hack into your accounts, or hack into online businesses that store customers' information on their websites to get at the customers' credit information. Social networking sites especially are a fertile place where would-be identity thieves hang around.
As the responsible adult in the family, here's what you need to do:
And here's what you can do and also teach your kids to do, especially since they are the ones who are most likely to be downloading songs, movies and all sorts of files and freebies on the internet.
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