How to Avoid Your Computer being used in a Cyber Attack

Lately there has been a lot of talk about Cyber Attacks and big companies and government agencies being compromised.  Now Cyber Attacks are nothing new but huge companies such as google being hacked kind of is.

To get a better understanding of what is different and why it’s different this blog article does a good job of breaking it down.

So now that you understand the types of attacks happening let me explain what you can do to make your computer secure so that it can’t be used to attack a company or steal credit cards or any of the other things scammers are up to.

1)  Good Antivirus – A good anti-virus program is your first line of defense it will find and detect common worms, trojans and other run of the mill viruses.  Personally I think it’s a good idea to have more than one anti-virus program since different programs seem to detect different things.  You should have one that is fully functioning and has a full time protection mode.  You should use your 2nd or 3rd for scanning only.  Doing a scan with a few different anti-viruses gives you a better chance of success in finding and deleting malicious code.  One word of advice, don’t have more than one anti-virus running in full protect mode or you will have conflicts.  If you don’t have an anti-virus program and are looking for one that is good and free I recommend Avast which has a personal version that is completely free.

2) Spyware Protection – In addition to having good anti-virus you also want a separate program that is specifically for spyware and adware.  These programs will go through your registry, cookies and other key areas to look at the files placed on your computer by websites while browsing.   Most cookies are perfectly legitimate and used by websites to keep track of your login information however others may compromise your personal information.  A good program for removing adware and spyware that is free is Ad-Aware.

3) Registry Analysis – You should also have a registry analysis tool such as HiJack This.  I cannot tell you the number of times that both my anti-virus and spyware programs found nothing and by running this program I was able to identify and clean the malware with this.  This program will give you a list of everything that happens in your registry.  This is where you will find viruses that continue to re-install themselves as well as people hijacking your browser and a lot of other nasty stuff.  The only warning I have with this program is to be sure you know what you are deleting before you do so….deleted needed registry files can really cause you problems.  If you are unsure if something is malicious or legitimate google the file name you should be able to find information on the file and it will tell you if it is legitimate or not.

4) Keep Windows Updated – Windows updates are essential to keeping your computer patched with the latest security updates.  Window is VERY vulnerable and can allow attacks and infections from a ton of different angles.  These security breaches are found all the time and patched so make sure you have window update set to automatically download and install patches.  If you would prefer to see what windows is installing first then have it automatically download the updates and then ask you to install them.  This will also avoid your computer being rebooted while it may be working on a task.

So those are the basics.  Nothing is 100% but keeping up with these steps as part of your computer maintenance routine will give you the best possible chance of your computer not being used in a cyber attack.

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