TeMerc Internet Countermeasures
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Malware Advisor Blog
How'd I Get Infected In The First Place?
This is a question asked all too often by many people who get infected and are not fully aware of the dangers out on the Web. On this page I will address the most common ways and offer solutions to prevent infections from implanting themselves on your PC.
Problem: Infected via known exploits in the OS. IE/Windows OS is not properly updated with current critical patches from MS.
Problem: Infected by virus either by email or hacker because you have no AV or firewall installed.
Solution: See the Must Have AV\Firewall Page. Several options there, some free, some not. No excuse not to have both, even if your behind a router.
Problem: Infected because you have no Countermeasures protection.
Solution: See the Security Must Haves page for all your needs. Once again, most all are free with a couple of upgrades to pay for.
Problem: Infected because your IE security settings are improperly set.
Solution: See this IE Security & Privacy Tweaks page. Excellent settings to keep most malwares at bay.
Problem: Infected by drive by download.
Solution: Firstly, read this article by Eric Howes. A fascinating look into the sneaky way things get installed via a simple process. Then see the above page, for IE tweaks.
Problem: After downloading a supposed anti-spyware tool or something off the Net, I have all sorts of unwanted applications running and I think I'm infected.
Solution: Never DL anything from the Net unless you check it out first. How? Google it, check security forums. For any anti-spyware tools you happen upon, be sure and check the Rogue\Suspect AntiSpyware list linked below. It's always up to date with the latest on bad vendors. Another layer of defense to add which gives some info about sites is to use SiteAdvisor which tests sites for spam and malicious downloads.
Explaining a 'Layered Defense' in relation to PC protection.
In this section of my site, I would
like to explain more what I feel is a layered defense system for your
pc. For this purpose, I will only refer to the home user with one pc.
Networked homes encompass an entirely new set of procedures.
By 'layered' of course we mean, more than one section or area. The first thing you need to do is identify what needs to be protected. Secondly, assess the threats and decide which apps to use for each threat. And finally institute the proper steps to prevent\protect.
What needs to be protected:
Your desktop or laptop which may contain all sorts of personal info.
In a perfect world, this shouldn't be necessary, but, the Internet is not by any stretch, perfect. You need to protect your self from virus, trojan, and worm attacks. They can come in various forms: email, attempts to access your pc directly, usually from a zombie. Or, they can come enclosed or bundled with freeware or P2P file sharing sites, which I strongly recommend you stay away from entirely. And all can steal your personal info.
Threats also come in the way of adware, spyware and malware. These, while usually less troublesome than viri, trojans and worms, present a threat none the less.
Privacy is another issue. Some of the websites you visit want to track your surfing habits. They claim its all to serve you, the consumer better, sure, whatever they say. You need to eliminate the potential for tracking cookies or data miners to be installed on your machine. In most cases they report to an advertisers server.
Trojans and worms and viruses are all
very highly destructive. They can cripple your machine, or worse yet,
allow an outside user to gain control over your pc, without you even
knowing it. This would make your machine a zombie .
Typically, all that's needed here is a good anti virus and firewall setup. The one thing you want to try to get, is an av app which will scan your incoming emails, and outgoing if possible as well. There are of course other desirable features, like auto updating, quarantining options and others. I won't delve to deeply into these tho, to keep things simplified.
With firewalls, you can and need an assortment of features. Things like Internet access, to decide which of your other apps installed on your machine get to access the web. Personal info blocking is a nice feature as well. My Norton firewall allows me this option. Another neat option to look for is alerts when an outside source is trying to access your machine. Typically, these attacks come from zombies, looking to increase their network for malicious intent.
Adware, spyware and malware. These present a potential very real-time threat with virtually every site you visit on the web. From innocent looking sports pages to the more obvious p0rn related sites. Stealth installs can be as innocent as a cookie, or as nasty as a hijacker. This will vary from site to site. And, of course there are all sorts of completely safe sites to visit as well. The trick comes in knowing what types to stay away from.
Here we would want to start with apps such as SpywareGuard v2.2 & SpywareBlaster v3.5.1. Both are preventative measures. These will prevent installation of known ActiveX, and prevent your homepage from being changed. Another good preventative app is WinPatrol 11.1.2007.2. Scotty the watch dog will prevent any programs from being added to your system.
Another pro active way of prevention is a registry monitor. Several anti spy apps have them. Spybot Search & Destroy v1.5 has Tea Timer. This app is free. Adaware SE Free v1.06r has Ad-Watch, however this requires an upgrade which requires payment.
A great way to prevent things from installing on your pc, is to limit which sites you go to. There are thousand of malicious site out there. Many are known threats. The best way to prevent accessing these sites, even when your unaware they may be malicious is to use both of the following items. IE-SPYAD inserts known malware installing sites into your 'Restricted Zone'. If you try to go to one of the sites in this zone, the page will not load, and nothing can be installed. Another way of avoiding these site is by using MVPS Hosts. This works in very much the same way in just not letting you get to the site which may be malicious.
To prevent yourself from getting tricked when bad sites load, use these IE Tweaks. This way, even if you do hit a site which may be bad, at least you can minimize the potential damage done.
See this link in our forum for a more detailed look at a 'layered defense' for your PC.
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