Considerations for Avoiding Current security Threats

  There aren't many people who have a PC or Mac computer connected to the Internet that aren't aware of Computer Viruses. 

  Generally, PCs are targets of most of the more than 280,000 currently recognized (*) viruses.  Macs don't become infected with the PC viruses designed to exploit vulnerabilities of the Microsoft Operating System.

  However, Macs are still targets of cyber criminals and it is possible for an Apple Macintosh to get a virus. But the likelihood of an Apple Macintosh user getting a virus when compared to a Microsoft Windows user is very little to none. In fact, many Apple Macintosh users don't even run an antivirus protection program.

Achieve Real success from your Internet Surfing - Turn Your Niche and Other Fun Ideas into Rewarding Results (*) According to Spybot, as
of Feb. 06, 2009 there were 287,524 viruses and the list is still growing

  But, believe it or not, in spite of all of the recent media coverage and even newscaster hysteria about the Conficker worm, Stuxnet, and more recently Flame, there are many ordinary computer users who have no current protection against any kind of malware, especially the latest versions and iterations of these, and older viruses.

  Just having the anti-virus, anti-spam, anti-spyware, and firewall programs that came with their computers can lull them into a feeling of being safe.

  Not good enough - really. The PC operating system must be kept up-to-date, and it can be as simple as activating the Microsoft Windows automatic update option in their browsers or visiting the Windows update webpage here -->              http://update.microsoft.com/microsoftupdate

  The Conficker situation presents a good example - Conficker code spreads through a security gap in the Windows operating system that Microsoft patched in October of 2008, but millions of computer owners have not followed recommendations to update their software against the loophole.

  The result of this apathy? Millions of computers have been infected by it. Estimates range from 9 to 15 million world wide!

  There are any number of reputable anti-virus and other 'anti-' software providers who offer reliable and effective security programs - some even free. 

   These must also be kept current and most all offer a variety of methods for updating - like automatic updates or alerts to which subscribers can elect to respond and download the latest virus signature data.

   There is also a large number of less than reputable (rogue software) providers that offer programs which lure people into buying fake anti-virus protection as a result of displaying bogus infection results. 

   No one really wants to spend their time looking for the next major threat. The security software providers and organizations like US-CERT spend countless hours and much money doing that for us. 

   This information is available to all of us. It's just a matter of knowing where to look for it. 

   Here are a few places we can visit to be updated on current threats and their potential for compromising our computers, our financial resources, and our personal identities - (not listed in any order of preference) 

   1. symantic (Norton) Virus definitions and security Updates on the top threats http://www.symantec.com/norton/security_response/definitions.jsp

    2. US-CERT United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team - The US-CERT Current Activity web page is a regularly updated summary of the most frequent, high-impact types of security incidents currently being reported to the US-CERT

   3. SophosLabs blog where their experts discuss Viruses, worms, spam, vulnerabilities and the latest security attacks and threats

  4. You can Identify rogue Software here(as published by CA.Inc)

  5. McAfee lists types of recent threats, risk level and discovery date for home and home office users http://home.mcafee.com/VirusInfo/ 

  6. F-SECURE Security Lab lists latest threats during the first quarter of 09

  7. Sunbelt Malware Research Labs - Assess the risk level of thousands of viruses and worms listed by name

  8. There are dozens more. A  Gooogle search for the better known security software developers will list hundreds of possible resources.

   You'll usually get the best results if you visit those sites that provide access to their computer security research 'Labs'.

  (Keep in mind that these software providers must sell their products to cover the expenses of their extensive and constant research. A small price to pay for the research and development that we could not individually afford, or even know how to do ourselves)  

   Other major considerations in providing a secure fortress for our family and business computers include being alert to Virus Hoaxes, the afore mentioned rogue software, phishing, email threats, Spam, spyware, an on and on --

  The important thing is to be aware - but not to panic.

   There are many web masters and bloggers who have taken it upon themselves to provide guidance and security information for anyone interested in keeping abreast of the nasty stuff circulating through the Internet.

   A Google, Yahoo, or Bing search for ‘computer security alert blogs’ will find a few. Visit one or two, select those that provide information to suit your needs, click their RSS buttons and follow their alerts and bulletins in your RSS aggregators. 

   Security professionals are being inundated with alerts and bulletins on vulnerabilities and malware on a daily basis. The vast majority of these alerts are low-risk nuisances rather than serious threats...

  ...and the irony is – the more that computer users become aware of the importance of security information and Internet threats, the greater the temptation for the hackers to take advantage of this heightened awareness by scaring people into taking risks they wouldn’t ordinarily take and spending money unnecessarily.

   This brief report just touches the surface of the depths to which the cyber greedy will go to take advantage of the lesser informed and more naive computer users. They are a clever lot, these hackers, and a real challenge to our friendly security software developers. They will attack major enterprises and steal from individuals.

   Our best defense will be awareness and a personal compulsion to keep our computer system security programs and operating systems up-to-date.  

Visit Firewalls-and-Virus-Protection.com for more insight and details on Protection from Viruses 
                                                               Richard Rossbauer 

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