Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Blogging Tips Weekly - Protect Yourself From Malware

Here's a scary fact: around 50,000 malware are created each day.

What is Malware?

Malware, or malicious software, is a program especially designed to disrupt a computer's operations and gather sensitive information. Malware includes spyware, trojans, adware, worms and viruses. Most of them are just annoying, but some can be extremely harmful and even contaminate hardware.

Short of not using a computer at all, you will encounter malware. In fact, you probably already have. And if you use Windows OS, which most malware are designed for, you become a primary target.

I Have Antivirus. I'm Not Worried.

You still should be.

Antivirus is a fantastic idea, but hackers are extremely talented these days. Some malware sneak behind your antivirus software, and make it appear as if your system passed a recent scan, even though it did not.

Antivirus is great, but it's not a guarantee.

Why are Bloggers Prone to Malware?

Because we use the internet, and visit other websites A LOT. We have to. That's how we blog, research for topics, and connect with other bloggers. However, with each http- protocol we make, we fall vulnerable to the target site's malware.

It's not that we aren't careful or aware, it's that malware is very tricky these days, and hide in the most undetectable places. Even reputable sites spread them.

My Recent Encounter with Malware

I receive emails from advertisers often. While most advertisers are legitimate, a few contain links that lead to websites with malware.

First of all, I ALWAYS mouse over links to check its validity, and NEVER click on links through email. However, typing links that seem legitimate into the browser opens myself to malware too -- and why shouldn't I check out advertisers' sites?

Last week, I received three advertising opportunities in a row, and one of them must have contained a link with malware. After I typed in the address -- again, NEVER click on links through emails -- my computer started goofing up.

I knew right-a-way that I have encountered a virus. System took over 10 minutes to boot, and applications took over half an hour to load. In the end, after two days of wrestling with it, I gave up all saved data and reformatted to factory condition :O(

Protect Yourself from Malware

Nothing guarantees total elimination from malware, but doing the following can help:

  • Use an OS other than Windows.
  • Install and update anti- spyware, adware and virus protection.
  • If you receive links through email, mouse over it to see if it goes to the correct address, and never click on it through email.
  • Never trust links from social networking sites, especially facebook.
  • Think twice before downloading anything from the internet.
  • Refrain from using IE, which a lot of malware target.
  • Back up your data.

Get an external drive. Back up your data.

Protect Your Financial Info

I use my laptop mainly for web surfing, creative writing and blogging. Whatever data was wiped through reformat wasn't important. However, I do worry about accessing websites with personal data on it, like banking sites.

After encountering the virus, I decided to invest $200 on a netbook. I use the netbook solely for using websites with financial and personal information, banking included. This means no emails, no browsing, no ecommerce, no reading the news, and not even word processing.

I know this sounds extreme, and may not completely protect from malware. However, exercising such exclusivity is the highest protection I can supply for the most sensitive information.

This machine is not powerful at all. But it's a beneficial investment if you only use it for certain websites.

Plus, it is portable and cute :O)


Unfortunately, you cannot stop bad people from doing evil things.


But you have the power to keep them as far as you can.


How do you protect yourself from malware?

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