Viruses are what we talk about most, but there are all kinds of malicious programs that can infect, attack and even high jack your computer. Here are some of the most common terms:
Virus: a man-made program or piece of code that is loaded onto your computer, attaches itself to a program or file and runs itself without your knowledge. Almost all viruses are attached to an executable file (.exe) and have to be initiated by a user in order to run. Once running it can spread from one computer to another.
Spyware: software that gathers information about you or your organization without your knowledge and that may send that information to another user or computer without your consent. It may also be able to control processes on your computer without your knowledge. It may not present any overtly malicious problems.
Worms: Worms can be distinguished from viruses in that they cannot attach themselves to specific programs on your computer. They merely replicate themselves over and over until they use up your computer's available memory. They are also able to travel from computer to computer unaided by user intervention.
Trojan Horse: Usually disguised as legitimate software but will actually do damage once installed or run on your computer. Results can range from annoyances to severe problems. They can also create a "back door" on your computer that gives malicious users access to your system, which could include any confidential or personal information stored on your computer. Trojans do not replicate themselves nor infect other files.
Malware: a general term used to refer to a variety of hostile or intrusive software.
Ransomware: a form of malware whereby user data is encrypted and held hostage in return for payment.
Computer viruses are not unlike human ones. They are ever present and lying in wait just about everywhere. But instead of lurking on door knobs or floating in the air, these troublesome bugs come at you through email or the web. There are a number of common sense things you can do to insure that your computer, and your network, stays healthy and bug free:
Be skeptical. Don't be too quick to trust that link from an unfamiliar source. Being a skeptic can save you a lot of headaches down the road.
When in doubt - delete. Got an email from a trusted source, but it has some odd attachment or file that you weren't expecting? Rather than let curiosity kill the cat, send it too the trash.
Be vigilant. There is no "flu season" when it comes to computer viruses - it's 24/7/365.
Don't eat yellow snow. If it doesn't look right or isn't what you expect...see items above. The best defense is always to use good judgment.
Ransomware is showing up more and more these days. Hackers are also becoming more sophisticated in the ways they organize and infiltrate with ransomware hacks.
WHAT IS RANSOMWARE?
In short, it's a type of malware that infects your system and then locks the system down and/or encrypts your data until you pay a fee to get the data back. It can gain access in the form of an email attachment, through a vulnerable network service or even a text message.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF
BitDefender has put together an informative series about ransomware (links below). I recommend taking a look. For detailed information about steps to take to help protect yourself skip straight to Part III.
Part I: Money or Data?
Part II: How Does Ransomware Work?
Part III: How to Avoid Becoming a Victim
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the standard security technology for establishing encryption between a web server and a browser. This ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers remains secure. A vulnerability in SSL 3.0 was highlighted in a recent Microsoft Security Advisory and has implications for all versions of Windows and all software that utilizes the SSL protocol. Part of Microsoft's efforts to eliminate the vulnerability will start on December 1, as they begin to disable SSL 3.0 in all their software, starting with Office 365. What this means for the end user is that all client software/browser combinations must now be compatible with the TLS (Transport Layer Security) 1.0 protocol. This will come in to play most often when logging on to Office 365 from the web interface. If your version of IE is not TLS compatible, you can use the Fix it, provided by Microsoft, which is available for all supported versions of IE, to disable SSL 3.0 in your browser and help ensure you are protected from this vulnerability. This will only change the settings for IE.
Malicious Software Explained
SSL 3.0 Vulnerability
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