Archive for May, 2010

How hackers can use your web cam to invade your privacy

Posted on May 25th, 2010 in Antivirus, Security | No Comments »

There is a famous saying, everyone gets a least 15 minutes of fame. But with the internet, that rule has been turned on its head. We all have a chance to be known now. With all of the media that we are able to create with our computers, your voice can easily be heard by the masses. There have been many people that have become overnight stars with the use of YouTube. The good way that we are able to become known over the internet is through the use of web cams. Web cam technology allows people to get a little look at our world. But if you are not careful with web cams, then they can offer people more of a look of your world than you intended them to see. That little gadget that allowed you to be social with people from around the world can be the same thing that destroys your privacy and leaves you more exposed to the public eye more than you would have liked.

This has happened to many people before. They have their web cam connected to a computer and chat through an instant messenger service like Yahoo or AOL. They then visit a web site where they are asked to download something. They download and install this program and nothing seems to happen. So the person decides that the program is no good and they forget about it. What that person does not know is that the program did work. The purpose of the program was to turn on your web cam and give whoever is controlling the program a free peak into your lifestyle. They then are able to record what you do without you knowing. All aspects of your life can now be put up to public scrutiny.

This type of prank has been around for a long time. Even though the protection software for these cameras is better than it used to be, these types of attacks still happen. Some of the attacks are done by kids who just want to get a free peep show. Other attacks are done by bad guys who want to be able to find out information so they can blackmail you with it. This means that if they catch you nude or doing something wrong on camera, they will threaten to release the video unless they are given money. This is not a fun thing for anyone to go through but it does happen.

If you are a person who likes to use their web cam a lot, you must check to see if it is on even after you turned it off. Make sure that there is nothing funny going on with it. Also you must make sure that you keep your computer secure. A good antivirus will be able to pick up if there are any of these types of programs trying to load onto your computer. Overall, if you keep your computer secure then you should not have to worry about your web cam.

Keep your data safe using Truecrypt on Windows

Posted on May 21st, 2010 in Security | No Comments »

Even though everyone may think about security when they use the computer, they may not know the best way to achieve it. Most people have not studied computer science or computer security for a living. They do not understand the many things that it takes to secure the whole of your computer. When they see their system, all they know is that they are able to hit the letters on a keyboard and all of the sudden the information pops up on the screen. Computer operating system makers make it so that the average person is not exposed to the many layers that really go into making your modern day computer. So the average person will rely on what experts tell them is a good way to secure their system. They will hear about malware, antiviruses, pop up blockers, and other things of that nature. But the one thing that they will rarely hear about is encryption. This is not a good thing because one of the best ways to secure your system is to use encryption on it. In this article, we will describe encryption and what are the best programs to use to be able to encrypt your system.

When people talk about encryption, they are usually using a general term that underscores many different techniques to accomplish similar goals. There is no single way to encrypt a file. There have been many arguments on which encryption type is the best. We are not here to argue that. You can look more into it at a later date and decide for yourself which one is the best to use. What we are here for is to give you a brief overview of encryption and how to use it on your system. Encryption is simply the organized obfuscation of data on your computer. A simple way to think about encryption is this way, if you have a code “abcde” and you use “12345” to represent it, you have used a very, very basic form of encryption. The number 1 is represents a, 2 is representing b, 3 is representing c, and so on. Computers are able to use encryption to protect their data in a similar manner but it is a whole lot more complex than what we have shown here.

If you are interested in encrypting files on your computer and do not want anyone to be able to access it without your permission, you can use a program that is called Truecrypt. It will allow you to easily set up a folder that will encrypt all of the data that you put in there. It can also encrypt entire drives of your computer as well. If you have a drive that you do not want anyone to be able to get into, then using Truecrypt will help that.

If you think that you would like to use encryption to protect your files in Windows, then the Truecrypt program is a good way to go.

Catching a virus from a hardware install disk can happen, here’s how to avoid it

Posted on May 20th, 2010 in Antivirus, Security | No Comments »

We allow many things to access our computers these days. From the data that flows to our system from the internet, to the data that comes into our system from a USB disk or DVD, there are many ways that corrupted malware has a chance of entering our machine. We are used to hearing about programs from the internet being installed into our system and doing damage. This is the chance that we take when we hook up to the internet and install programs from a web site. That is why there are so many programs that are out there that will help you protect your system from intruders that may be able to access you through the internet. What about the other way that we may be able to pick up an infection on our system? There is more than one way that we install programs into our computer. Whenever we install a new piece of hardware onto the computer, we install new software as well. This may come in the form of a program that helps control the hardware or a .sys file that gives the hardware access to the operating system. It may not be as popular a topic but this is also a way that people are able to compromise your computer.

If you are running a new piece of hardware, when you install any programs that come with the hardware, you will want to scan it with an antivirus program. People who do not think twice about scanning a new program that is downloaded from the internet are hesitant to scan a program that is on a DVD disk. You should not trust anyone 100% with the safety of your data. We are not telling you to be paranoid but you should be highly aware of anything that you put on your computer. Installing a program, no matter if it is on a disk or off of the internet can change the way that your computer works completely. Make sure that it does not take you by surprise.

Even though we think of most malware as coming from the software side of things that is not the only place that corrupted code is able to hide. There is hardware out there that has malware hard coded into it. This is especially true in cheap hardware that you get from third world countries. Hardware such as cheap MP3 players and electronic picture frames may have malware hard coded into it. There have been many reported cases of someone’s computer becoming infected by just plugging in one of  these pieces of hardware to the USB slot of their machine. Not all cheap hardware is capable of this but there is a lot that is. Before you install cheap hardware of a dubious nature, make sure that you do a search on the internet for it. Check to see if anyone else is having problems with the hardware. If they are, you will usually hear about it very quickly.

Catching a virus from hardware install disk or the hardware itself is not uncommon. Make sure you are aware of this fact when you are using these types of products.

Three folders in Windows 7 where viruses like to hide at

Posted on May 19th, 2010 in Antivirus, Windows 7 | No Comments »

When we use our computer on the internet, we are allowing it to potentially be infested by one of the many dangers that float around on the World Wide Web. So to try and prevent that, we set up programs on our system that are supposed to seek out and stop dangers such as this. But even the latest updated antivirus will not be able to stop every danger that may be out there. This is why it is a good thing for you to know which part of your Window 7 system is a place where an infection or potential infection is most likely to hide. This way if anything strange happens to your computer and you are at a lost as to what is going on, you can check these areas to see if they are clean or not.

The first folder that you want to take a look at in your Windows 7 system is the “Downloads” folder of the computer. If you have downloaded anything to the system, then you know that by default it ends up here. So there is a good chance that anything that may be harming your system originated from this folder. Luckily for you, if the file is still in this folder and you have not accessed it beforehand, then there is a good chance that the infection can be easily removed. Programs usually have to have some sort of interaction to be installed. The method that this occurs is usually by double clicking on an .exe file. On rare occasions, a program can activate without any interaction at all. If the program in this folder is doing that, then deleting the .exe in the folder should get rid of all of your problems.

Another folder that infections like to hide in is the “Programs Files” folder. Whenever you install a new program, the .exe and other files by default are put in this folder. Many virus and other malware writers will rarely put their infections in this folder but some do and that makes it a good place to look. Or if they do put the files and .exe in this folder, then they will place it under a different name. So if you see anything in this folder that seems off and your computer is acting funny, then go online and Google some of the folders that you do not recognize. They may be your problem.

The last folder that you should check is the actual Windows folder. This is where the heart of your operating system is at. You should only access this folder if you know what you are doing. If you have never been in this folder before, then do not go in it now. Only go in if you are familiar with the files that are in this folder. If you are familiar and you see a strange name that you haven’t seen before, then it is again time to check Google.

Even if you know where to look at, you are still going to need a program that will able to analyze the files in the folders to see whether they are good or not. To do this, you can use an online virus scanner to help you out. Viruses can be tricky things; it helps to know where they may be hiding at.

Which programs should you allow to have access past your firewalls?

Posted on May 18th, 2010 in Firewall | No Comments »

When we use a firewall on our computer, it gives us the ability to effectively become a bouncer with our system. We have the power to selectively decide who is able to get in to or out our system through the internet. If there is a program that is installed but we do not expect it to try and access the internet, we can prevent it from doing that. We have to be smart when we decide which program should have access to the outside network and which ones shouldn’t. There are a couple of factors that will help you decide which programs should be granted permission to do this. In this article we will show you how you can decide which ones you should let have access to the internet and which ones you should not. By the end of this article, anytime that you download a new program, you will be able to see very clearly if it should be allowed this type of access or not.

The first way that will help you decide if the program should be able to access the internet or not is your familiarity with the program. This means that trust is the number one factor that will play into your decision. If the program is something that you have used for awhile now or it is made by a company that you absolutely trust, then you will most likely be comfortable in letting it access the outside internet. It is the programs that are new to you that you will have more problems in trusting. But even if you trust the company, before you let the program access the internet, you should still check to see why it wants to have this ability. There are plenty of companies that started off trustworthy but turned into a nightmare for its users.

Another big factor in whether you should allow the program to use the internet is if that is what you downloaded the program to do. In other words, if the program was downloaded to be used as a text editor only, then there is no reason why it should need the internet. The only reason why it would want to access it is so that it is allowed to send usage data about you and the program. That is not a bad thing in of itself but it also not a reason why a program should be granted such access. So when you download and install a program to your computer, make sure that you know what it does first. That will help you decide if it needs to be on the internet or not.

Allowing a program to have access past your firewalls is a very important thing. If you allow the wrong program to have this privilege then you can be setting up yourself up for disaster. This is why you should know as much about the program as possible before making such a decision. If you do not then you can end up paying the price later on down the line.

Your system is vulnerable to keyloggers, what you can do to avoid them

Posted on May 11th, 2010 in Security, Spyware | No Comments »

As you can probably tell from the title, keyloggers are very dangerous programs. But they are programs that you do not hear about every day. They do not get the same press as a computer virus does. If you are involved in computer security then you should be very familiar with them. To the public at large, they really are still a mystery. The one thing that the public should know about them is that if they are ever able to get into your computer, then your privacy on your computer could be severely compromised. There is nothing that you would be able to do on your computer without the bad guys knowing about it. So let’s talk about keyloggers and how they are able to be this destructive.

What keylogger do?

A keylogger is a program that sits on your computer in the background and registers the keystrokes that you make. It then reports the information back to the main server that controls it. There are hardware versions of this type of program as well but these days you will mostly see the software variety. Whenever you type a letter on your keyboard, you are sending a signal that gets registered to your operating system. The operating system, after it translates it, then sends the signal back to the hardware so that the letter that you typed shows up on the screen.  So when the keylogger is sitting in the background during this time, it is taking notes of everything that is being pushed. Once the notes are taken, after a certain amount of time, it then sends it back for the person controlling the server to shift through. Once they see this information, they can use it for their own personal gains. This means that they can either sell it to scammers, or try to scam you themselves.

If you want to make sure that your system steers clear of keylogger, then there are a couple of things that you must do. The first thing that you must do is to make sure that you have an updated antivirus on your system the whole time. A keylogger is usually introduced onto your computer by a Trojan. A Trojan is a piece of malware that carries another piece of malware and delivers it to the target system. Luckily for you, an updated antivirus program will be able to catch a Trojan as well. So as long as you have that on your system then it will help keep you secured. You also want to make sure that you stay off of dangerous web sites. Questionable web sites might be able to have you catch something like this as well. Also, make sure that the links that you click are trusted and will not lead you to any bad places.

As you see there is a lot of dangers that can be picked up on the internet, even some that you have never heard of before. If you want to make sure that your system stays safe, then you need to keep aware of danger such as a keylogger. You do not want anything like this being able to sneak through onto your system.

Firewalls and antivirus, the key to a secure computer set up

Posted on May 10th, 2010 in Antivirus, Firewall | No Comments »

If you are a person that worries about the set up of their computer, then one of the first things that you do is to make sure that everything is secure. As we all know, in the age of the internet, security is the most important things that we can think about when it comes to our computer. Earlier in the lives of home computers, there was no internet as we know it now. The main thing that we had to worry about was someone physically accessing our system. Now that is not the case. We have to make sure that we have the right software tools that will allow us to keep our computer safe when we travel down that road known as the World Wide Web. There are two key pieces of software that will help you do this. These software tools are known as a firewall and antivirus. If you are a computer beginner, you may have heard of these solutions but you might not quite know what they are. In this article we will walk you through what they do, and how you can use them to keep your computer safe.

When we talk about firewalls, we are talking about a program that guards the entrances of your computer. These entrances are known as ports and they allow you to have a connection with the outside world. Every day, the bad guys are looking for new ways to be able to get into your computer by using these ports. To prevent that from happening, you use this software to hold them off at the pass. If you set the software up right, then the bad guys will have a very hard time getting into your system. The only drawback to this type of software is that you are going to have to open up some of the ports of your computer. You have certain programs that need to be able to access the internet so you need to allow them a way through. This is known as port forwarding. Other than allowing port forwarding, all of the rest of your ports should be safe from intruders.

The most important piece of software that you should have on your computer is the one that we are about to talk about next. It is known as the antivirus and it is what keeps your computer safe from being infected. If you have watched the news at all, you will no doubt have heard about black hat hackers trying to infect your computer. They do this by putting little rogue programs on your computer known as viruses. These viruses can cause your computer to do a number of things that you do not want it to do. So to prevent that from happening, you can run a program called an antivirus that will detect them as soon as they are on your computer. This way you can stop them in their tracks before they do any harm. Antivirus is key to having a well secured computer system.

As you see, having your computer well secured is very important. If you have two of the software programs that we just discussed then you are on the right path.

Securely transfer your files through the use of a VPN on Windows 7

Posted on May 7th, 2010 in Security, Windows 7 | No Comments »

With the rise of wireless network everywhere, there is becoming a need to be able to transfer your files in a safe and secured manner. A lot of people falsely assume that you are as safe on a remote network, as you are on your home version. This simply is not true. There are a lot of attacks that can affect you when you are on a strange network, especially a network that you have not been on before. One of the attacks that are popular on a public network is called a man in the middle attack. Or you can have someone sniff out your data packets that are transferring mid air. Whatever the attack may be, you need to be able to make sure that it doesn’t affect you while you are on a public network. One of the ways that you can do this, is by using a VPN. A VPN will protect your data when you are on a remote network. And when you use Windows 7, this process becomes a lot easier.

Before we get started in describing how to set up a VPN in Windows 7, I realize that some people do not know what a VPN is or what it does. So lets take the time now and describe it for you. The letters VPN stand for Virtual Private Network. What it does, is to create a smaller network that sits on top of a larger network, like the internet, that will only allow certain people permission to access it. If you set up the VPN, then you and whoever you allow access to, are the only ones that are allowed on it. That of course, is where the private part of the name comes from. Most of the time, you can set the VPN to be encrypted. This is why it is so effective for when you are on strange public networks. Your data can flow freely and even if they are able to see it, they will not be able to encode it.  This will prevent them from understanding what they are seeing.

So if you are using an unfamiliar remote network and you have important files that you need to protect, then your best bet is to set up your own VPN. You can either do this by using third party software or do this by using the software that is already available in Windows 7. You will need a VPN server to be able to connect to, when you are setting the VPN up. The connection must have two sides, the server and the client. Most of the times the actual server will be from a third party vendor. There are plenty of free and open source versions to choose from. To set up the client portion in Windows 7, you go into the Network and Sharing portion of the control panel. You then click on “Set up a new connection or network”. After that click on “Use my internet connection”. You then type the IP address or domain in the box and you will have a connection to that network. Anytime that you want in, just type your name and password.

Set up a secured VPN connection is very easy in Windows 7. If you are on a strange network, it pays to have one.