Tag Archives: pc security

How to Protect yourself from Ransomware: 5 steps

It’s astonishing how far hackers will go to make a few dishonest bucks. One shady scheme that has recently become more prominent is malware that is called Ransomware.

So what Is Ransomware and How Does It Work?

As the name implies, ransomware is a virus or worm that locks you out of your computer or files until you pay money to some shady hacker for the code that will supposedly unlock it. Ransomware usually works in one of these ways. You get infected and …

•    It encrypts the files on your computer’s hard drive.
•    It locks your computer and requires that you enter a password to unlock it.
•    It prevents you from using your web browser.
•    It accuses you of doing some illegal activity and tells you that you need to pay a fine.

The model for a ransomware alert
The model for a ransomware alert

Pretty nasty, right? For a lot of people, they’d almost rather have a bug that damages their computer than threatens their data.  That’s because, in many ways, the landscape of user computing has changed.  Computers, while not cheap by any measure, are far less expensive than they used to be.  What matters to people then is the time and effort spend in making stuff: documents, projects, photos, video. As infuriating as it is, ransomware represents and evolution in an old scam. Leave the hardware out of it, it’s kidnapping for your data.

So, how does ransomware spread? Sadly, the means by which these viruses get around is the same as it’s always been, so it’s more important than every to start practicing better behaviors. Usually computers become infected when you do one of the following:

•    Open an unsolicited email attachment, even if you think you know the sender.
•    Click on a suspicious link in an email.
•    Downloading something from peer-to-peer networks. Continue reading

The Windows RDP: What is it and why should I care?

Many of us use our home computers for a few simple tasks. We email. We do a bit of internet surfing. We play with our digital pictures, file taxes or write reports. But your home computer is capable of much more than Facebook and Word. There are dozens of features on your computer that you may be completely unaware of that can change the way you use your computer.

What if, for example, you could use your home computer to remotely access your work computer or vice versa?  Among all of the apps, languages, and camera settings within the catalog of Windows Utilities, you’ll find RDP, or remote desktop protocol.

You probably don’t even know it’s there

RDP is simply the ability to access one computer from another. If you are sick and need to work from home one day, you might use RDP to login to your work computer to grab the files and programs you need to make your day productive from the home office.

ICON_linked_computersOf course something like RDP comes with plenty of requirements and cautionary notes, but at the heart of the utility is simplicity and connectivity. A client computer, like your home computer, can log into a remote host computer, like your work one, with relative ease allowing you to commute easily or allowing you to collaborate with others in a myriad of ways. Continue reading

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