Hijacking, a real threat: anti-virus and firewall protection a must?
Along the internet highway are threats of all sorts and it's up to the user to protect themselves against these threats. While the debate on the need for firewalls have arisen, many times due to users not believing they need to worry about hackers or other threats, there are some startling truths as to why users and large companies alike, should use both a firewall and anti-virus program.
Hijacking: It can occur by malicious software being installed on your computer, changing your browser, installing into or changing the registry, typically without a user's knowledge of it. It may keep reverting your home page to the altered page any time you open your browser. There are wide varieties in the ways this can happen, whether installing an infected program, going to sites pretending to be a valid site, clicking on links, your home page being changed or information being added or even through a picture. That's right, saving or downloading a picture can be encrypted with malicious code and can then be executed on a person's computer. In many cases, all the user needs to do is click links or buttons, pop-ups or advertisements which lead to a hijacking. The malicious code is inserted and then takes over the user's browser which can be filled with such material as porn (perhaps the most popular) or other material. Your pc may become a "Zombie", being controlled remotely by the hijacker. This can cause your computer and\or browser to be used to traffic these materials. Some are so stealthy that the user notices no performance change in their computer or browser at all. While high speed internet is many times a hotter target, dial up connections are not without risk. Some hijackings will silence the modem so it cannot be heard dialing while making overseas phone calls, leaving the user with a large phone bill.
The current threat is a takeover of a person's computer called "Ransomware" sometimes referred to as the next evolution in spyware, the takeover will encrypt all files on a user's computer and demand a payment be made to a certain site or place, from as little as ten dollars to three hundred or more, or even demand online currency such as Webmoney, else threatening to delete a person's files little by little until payment is met.
What do they have to gain by this you ask? For one, most types of hijacking comes from "organized crime" with enough funds to pay others to use their hijacking methods to gather information for them. One worker alone can have tens of thousands of computers hijacked while unknown to many that they are in fact under attack. It's a few minute job to these "hijacking workers" who may spend a total of two minutes pushing some buttons, then go about their business while the hijacking is taking place, simply go about their daily lives and wait for their check to arrive.
There are different types of "hijacking" and "hackers". Some variety of what their intent may be are...
1.) To use a person's computer or browser to help spread the material
2.) To steal personal information like bank account information or social security numbers for identity theft and other reasons.
3.) To gain access to a large\small company's information, which there are numerous reasons for this.
4.)Simply to be malicious. They may destroy information, a little at a time, all at once, take the information for their own purposes. "Spoofing" uses some different methods but once again, the intent is often the same as hijacking.
5.) While this may apply to the above, "monetary gain" is perhaps a highly driven reason for most attacks as well.
For more in-depth definitions into hackers, hijacking, and spoofing, please see this link... http://www.iss.net/security_center/advice/default.htm
Many attacks target vulnerabilities in a browser, such as in IE (internet explorer), taking advantage of the ActiveX scripts which may ask as user permission to install through a pop up. If the script is malicious and the unknowing user allows this, the person is caught hook , line and sinker.Firefox is considered far safer to use than IE, but even so isn't 100% safe. Even VMware (virtual machine) suggests firewalls and Anti-virus software. No browser is 100% safe from these attacks and extra care needs to be taken.
A Note: Getting into every detail of hijacking, browsers, spoofing and security details is FAR beyond the scope and purpose of this article. There are many varieties of each attack\attacker and even definitions have varied as these change rapidly. It is important to realize there are some preventions and secure measures we as users can take. Every day the "bad guys" are coming up with new ways to get past our securities, but there are a couple of security tools that remain a constant through all these old and new attacks, a "Firewall" and "Anti-virus" software.
A firewall helps to keep unwanted intrusions off your computer by blocking potentially harmful communications to and from your computer. It's much easier for a hijacker or hacker to put in or take out information without a firewall to help guard you. Just as you would be concerned with security in your own home, would you have entrances to your home without doors or locks? This is the same principle as not having a firewall to help secure your computer. You would leave your ports open to the internet world for all to see , exposing your personal information . The typical time to be connected to the internet before you could be hacked is a mere 16 minutes. That is far from enough time for many. With 65,535 ports it would be a time consuming task to manage manually to say the least. A firewall simplifies this and creates an automatic safety for users who are not as technically inclined to manage ports manually or even advanced settings for those who are.
Anti-virus is a must as well. If a virus or other harmful file would happen to get on your computer, "prevention", "early detection" and "removal" are the best ways to keep your computer from becoming host to a malicious take-over. Keeping the anti-virus up to date regularly should become common practice as these updates help insure detection of malicious patterns. Watching what files you download, or sites you visit can be a great help as well and scanning files prior to opening them.
Please keep in mind, most attacks that do succeed, are due to not having proper securities in place, or un-safe browsing habits. Luckily Comodo gives us two of "many" great softwares, Comodo Personal Firewall (CPF) and Comodo Anti-Virus (CAV) both absolutely FREE for LIFE.
Have a safe surfing!
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