Common Ways Someone Can Harm Your Computer

     First, let us start out with saying a little bit about what you are protecting yourself from. Primarily, there are four common ways to harm your computer from the Internet: hacking, spyware, adware, and viruses. We’ll go through these to define them so you can be aware of them when you are surfing the internet or answering emails. Awareness of the dangers Is half the battle in protecting yourself. We will also cover some common things you can do to make sure that your system is as secure as it can be while still allowing you to connect to the internet.
     Perhaps the best way to protect from threats on the internet is to not be connected to the internet at all. But, for most of us, we have a computer at home for two reasons: communicate with our friends and family through email, and to find information about things that we’re interested in via searching web sites on the World Wide Web. Since you are probably reading this article because you found it on the internet, telling you to disconnect from the internet to protect yourself probably isn’t a great solution. So let’s keep going.

What Is A Hacker?
     The first threat that I want to discuss is a hacker. Hackers are people who look around the internet for computers they can get into and cause harm. Hackers are very smart when it comes to computers but they not nice people. Why would a hacker be interested in you? First of all, many people have some personal information on their computer – names, addresses, phone numbers, birthdates of friends and relatives, perhaps even account numbers to bank accounts, and even passwords. Why is a hacker interested in this information? It is simple, they can steal your identity with the right information., and stealing someone’s identity can lead to that person stealing money – using their credit accounts to buy stuff. It is not a good situation when someone has their identity stolen. I’m not trying to scare you here; it is okay to have these things on your computer as long as you have your computer safe from hackers.
     Now that you know how your computer can be harmed by hackers on the Internet, let’s look at what you can do to protect yourself. In this article, we’ll discuss 4 things you can do to keep yourself safe from these pesky outside invaders; we’re going to briefly discuss operating system updates, firewalls, antivirus software, and antispyware.

What Are Operating System Updates?
     Operating system updates are updates to your operating system. If you are like most people who own a computer you probably have some form of Windows running your computer. If you own a MAC from Apple, then you have some version of MAC OS operating system. These systems are computer programs and need constant updating. Why, because hackers try to break into them to do the things we just talked about. The other major reason that there are updates is that with so many people using computers with these operating systems – someone eventually stumbles across some flaws (in computer terms these flaws are called “bugs”) in the program that need to be fixed. Updates from the software manufacturer are downloaded into your computer when you give permission for the download and the bugs are fixed in your system too. You should do operating system updates on your computer periodically to keep your system safe.

What Is A Firewall?

     A firewall is like a filter – it keeps people out of your computer. One way to think about it is like when you go to Costco, or Sam’s Club and you have to show your member’s card to get in. Firewalls work the very same way, anyone trying to get into your computer must be invited in and they must give the proper passwords etc. that the firewall is looking for. If they don’t give them, they don’t get in. Just like at Costco, no card, no entry. In most cases, the firewall that came with your computer in Windows, or with your wireless router in your home have sufficient firewall protection to keep you out of harm’s way.

What Is Antivirus Software?
     Antivirus software is a very important part of protecting your computer from being attacked by a computer virus. A computer virus is a computer program that intentionally interrupts or messes with your computer’s operation. Viruses can scan your computer for personal information and send it to wherever the virus is programmed to send it. They can also, corrupt or even delete whole or all parts of your computer’s hard drive. Bottom line – viruses are bad – very bad.
     Although computer viruses are bad, they are relatively easy to prevent – all you will need is an antivirus program and some common sense knowledge about things to do and not do on your computer. Most often you will get a virus through someone sending you an email that contains the virus in an attachment. One type of virus is called a Trojan virus. If you get an attachment from someone you don’t know you should not open the attachment unless your antivirus software is turned on and scanning incoming email. Even if you do know the person who sent you the attachment, they might unknowingly send you a virus. It is a good idea to keep your antivirus software running all the time.

What Is Antispyware And Why Do I Need It?
     For starters, antispyware has nothing to do with the Cold War from earlier times in the 20th Century. Anti-spyware combats Spyware. Spyware can be thought in a similar fashion to a Virus. Spyware is a software program that makes its way onto your computer through surfing the internet in your web browser.
     The most common web browser in the United States is Windows Internet Explorer. Spyware can do several types of things on your computer from all of sudden popping up advertisements in a browser window when you didn’t click on anything. They can also change settings in your computer, steal your personal information, and even track your surfing habits. Your computer could even be slowed down to the point of you wanting to get a new computer because of Spyware. Even if you do not surf the internet much at all, you will want some type of antispyware to prevent these things from happening to you. It only takes one misstep to cause you a lot of problems and grief.
     Well, that’s it for this article of information about how to protect yourself from hazards out there on the Internet. For assistance on keeping your computer safe feel free to contact MyComputerWorks.com