Category Archives: Antivirus Software

Zero-Day Malware: Six Steps to Avoid and Evade

It sounds like something out of a science fiction movie and perhaps it could be, in a sense.  In all those movies where the self-proclaimed “hackers” pound the keyboards with super-fast clicks, it seems so easy to get access to a bank account, or a security system, or – ya know – a top secret government facility.

In real life, hacking isn’t done so easily or quickly, but as more an more hacking attacks break the news, the vulnerabilities found in the security framework of companies like Target®, JP Morgan® and Anthem® are becoming all too prominent.  Of course, your home computer isn’t a big company. That doesn’t mean it isn’t vulnerable to attacks.

Zero-day malware is a way to describe tools that help hackers exploit vulnerabilities. The reason and old idea gets a new name is because of the rate at which these attacks can be formulated and carried out.

What is it?

zero-day_iconThe term zero-day malware has been applied to different things all in the same category of threat. It is perhaps best to think of zero-day malware as more of a family name than a single label. The top items inside the “zero-day malware family” include:

• An attack using a vulnerability in software that was there from the beginning. A sneak attack using a crack in a digital foundation, if you will.

• A virus that is deployed through a sneak attack. This includes just about any type of malware under the sun.

What makes the zero-day malware unique in regards to all of the other malware we hear so much about is how it is sent to unsuspecting users. Continue reading

Work Like It’s Supposed To: AntiVirus Software

We all know we need anti-virus software, but are you sure that your program is actually working correctly? Most of us download the program and assume it is working. It’s a safe assumption when you consider how many messages you get from your security suite about scans, safety checks and safe internet surfing. In fact, all of that protection can get a bit overwhelming at times. You don’t have to let your antivirus software dominate your computer – and it will.

The standard antivirus suite is usually a huge program that ties up a lot of your computer’s valuable resources and can even slow your computer down. While it’s essential to have protection, you don’t have to always play by the rules set by the software companies. After all, it’s your computer so it’s your choices.

There are many settings that you can control with your security software, and even if you choose to let it work exactly the way it wants to, you should at least know how to control it should it ever complicate routine tasks for you. For example, sometimes your security software can make it challenging to download new programs and you will need to disable it briefly to let your computer do its job.

Changing Start-Up Permissions

There are components of your antivirus software that startup immediately when you flip the computer on. This is good in the sense that you have protection right away from the malware that also likes to try and get going right when you turn on your machine. But sometimes you are bogged down in security and want to have the option to boot your computer faster without starting every security feature right away.

You can control what starts immediately by controlling your startup permissions. If you’re working in Windows 7, search for MSCONFIG in the Start menu. Open the program associated with “msconfig.exe” that appears and you’ll see a tab labeled “Startup”. In Windows 8 do this through the Task Manager.  Open it by clicking Ctrl+Shift+Esc.  Then click on the “Startup” tab.

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msconfig or system configuration menu in Windows 7

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Roll Call: Essential Security Software

Okay, you know you have to have it: security software. The Web is crawling with baddies: viruses, Trojans and worms; and even though you never visit “high-risk” websites, you’re still at risk from those unscrupulous vendors that put out deceptive software or peddle aggressive adware. Sometimes all it takes is a seemingly reputable download from a d fraud, and sometimes all it takes is a stray link or email attachment from a friend whose computer has been hijacked.

The point it, you need security, but some of the terms are confusing. What’s the difference between anti-spyware software and anti-virus? Why do you need both? And importantly, where do you get it?

When making a competent security net for your home computer or home network, there are three essential security components you need: a firewall, anti-spyware software, and anti-virus software.

Firewall

A firewall is a piece of software that runs continually in the background when your computer’s on. It acts as a filter or “checkpoint” for the data coming into your computer from the Web. Firewalls maintain a list of known bad-guys, including individual pieces of software and websites that are known to be harmful. If either of these targets tries to get into a computer, the firewall will block it. Continue reading