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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Avoiding the Hackers while Browsing the Internet

Even though internet security has become much more advanced over the last few years, cyber criminals are still at the same game of trying to get malicious software installed onto user’s computers.  The newer versions of Internet Explorer are very good at stopping Trojan horse viruses from getting on your computer in the first place but many people still ignore the warning signals and go ahead and download the bad software anyway.  This is because hackers are using a new strategy called social engineering.

This new kind of hacking involves making the computer user think that they need to download this software in order to view a certain video, open a file, or view a certain website.  These schemes are hitting the social networking world hard as well.  Facebook users are seeing messages from “friends” asking them to rate a picture or check out a video.  When the user clicks on the link it sends them to a website asking for them to download the software so they can view it.

Internet Explorer and other secure internet browsers are detecting these Trojan horse techniques, but still some people are ignoring those warnings and downloading the malicious software anyway.  In fact Yahoo news just ran a story that claimed that Windows users are downloading malicious software at a rate of over 7% for every download.  This alarming rate means that more people are getting bad software installed on their PCs and laptops all the time.  The best way to beat the hackers is to be aware of what they are doing and know how we can stop these harmful tactics.

Another tactic is to make the computer user think they have a virus installed on their computer and that they need to download a certain “anti-virus program” to get rid of it.  In all actuality, this “antivirus program” is the virus itself.  Never trust a pop-up asking you to download an anti-virus program you have never heard of.  Or at least look up the name of the software first and see if it is legit or not.  In most cases if you have a good anti-virus system like Kaspersky or Norton you will not need to download a new one.

I do recommend that every computer user at least has a good malware detecting program on it.  Some of the most popular ones are Ad-Aware, Advanced System Care, and Super Anti-spyware.  I know the last one has a funny name but it is very thorough in detecting and deleting any kind of spyware, malware, or even adware from your computer.

The biggest problem with these malicious programs is that they can eventually lead to your identity theft.  Certain thieves are targeting specific users in a method called spearphishing which involves showing you pop-ups and warnings that relate to something you were just searching for online.  Or maybe you just took a vacation and the window will display something about your trip.  The hackers figure that with better security in internet browsers they need to use mind games to hack into our lives.  But to keep your identity safe you should only download programs that you know and trust.  Even if it takes doing some extra research just to be sure, it is worth your time and effort.

Phillip is a writer for an ID theft awareness site that compares some of the best identity theft protection services and writes reiews of each one.  You can also find some cool products like RFID blocking wallets to help protect your credit cards.

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