Ignorance is not bliss with Malware

Here is a conversation between two women Georgia and Lauren. They were talking about malware. You must read it too. 🙂

Georgia: Hi Lauren. I read news about a newly created malware today. Cyberattacks and cybersecurity is always in the news. Hackers are always behind exposing confidential information. We live in an Information Era where digital information has its own value based-on sensitivity, meaning if information is sensitive then it will have a great monetary value. If information is not sensitive, it will have less monetary value or no value at all. Collecting multiple non-sensitive information can help attackers learn about sensitive information eventually which can have a monetary value at later date.

Lauren: What is digital information?

Georgia: To put it simply, digital information is your personal details like your Full Name, Email Address, Contact Number, Residential Address and other personally identifiable details like Passport Number, Social Security Number, Permanent Income Tax Account Number, etc. and Bank details (Account Number, Credit/Debit Card Number, CVV Number, ATM PIN, etc.) stored on a computer or any other digital media. Digital information is also any information that is in transit.
You know Lauren, digital information can be stolen in a number of ways. One is by using malware. Hackers can steal your personal data & bank data in just a matter of seconds by using sophisticated malware. And just today I read about a new malware. Who knows how dangerous or different it must be.

Lauren: Oh my god! Georgia what exactly is a malware?

Georgia: Well, Malware is actually short for malicious software, hence the term malware. Malware are written by hackers for carrying out malicious activities:

  • Unauthorized access to your computer system
  • Stealing passwords
  • Capturing your key strokes
  • Stealing your credit/debit card data
  • Intercepting VoIP communication
  • Using your computer to launch attack on other system and much more.

Lauren: Damn! I didn’t know this. Can you please help me with some security measures that can be taken to avoid being a victim of such malware?

Georgia: Yes, of course, here are few security measures you can take:

  1. Keep your operating system and all software up-to-date with latest patches.
  2. Install an Antivirus program on your computer.
  3. Make sure you are not using pirated or cracked version of operating system or software. Always download software from official websites only.
  4. Do not click on any link (or even download attachment) contained within email that you find suspicious, or that is received in SPAM.
  5. Scan your computer with Antivirus on a regular basis. Also scan your system when you notice something suspicious or experience sudden slowness on your computer.
  6. Do not save password in browser.

Fig 1

Remember these points. I would like to also tell you some tools which are available freely.
Some good Antivirus Programs:

  1. “Microsoft Security Essentials” (Free) – http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/security-essentials-all-versions supported operating system -Windows 7. You can’t use Microsoft Security Essentials with Windows 8, it has Windows Defender it is built into it (control panel  windows defender) or can be downloaded at http://filehippo.com/download_windows_defender/
  1. “ESET NOD32 Antivirus / ESET Smart Security / ESET Cyber Security” (Trial / Paid) – http://www.eset.com/me/download/home
  2. “Avast – Antivirus & Internet Security” (Free / Paid) – https://www.avast.com/en-in/windows#comparison.

For advanced security:

  1. “Spybot – Search & Destroy 2.4” (Free / Paid) – https://www.safer-networking.org/spybot2-own-mirror-2 .
  2. “Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET) 5.5” (Free) – https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=50766 .
  3. “Microsoft Anti-Cross Site Scripting Library V4.3” (Free) – https://www.microsoft.com/en-in/download/details.aspx?id=43126

Security tools that will help you assess your computer:

  1. “Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA) 2.3” (Free) – https://www.microsoft.com/en-in/download/details.aspx?id=7558 . MBSA helps in identifying missing security updates and common security misconfigurations.
  2. “Attack Surface Analyzer 1.0” (Free) – https://www.microsoft.com/en-in/download/details.aspx?id=24487 . Attack Surface Analyzer takes a snapshot of your system state before and after the installation of product(s) and displays the changes to a number of key elements of the Windows attack surface.

Lauren: That’s awesome! I never knew about these tools. It’s always confusing as to which free tool will be good enough and which not. Google shows so many software. Choosing the correct software is important. But what if my computer gets compromised or infected by malware. How should I remove it?

Georgia: Well, if you doubt your computer is compromised or infected, then you must run antivirus scan to detect it. if your anti-virus doesn’t remove it, you can try using advanced tools like “Spybot – Search & Destroy 2.4” which will definitely remove sophisticated malware from the computer. Remove every software/file/folder that you find suspicious from your system.

Lauren: Okay, I got it. Thanks for your good help Mrs. Georgia!

Georgia: Anytime Lauren! If you have any doubts or questions, feel free to ask. Awareness is the best defense.

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