Staying safe and anonymous on the internet

By Your Teacher Loving Beast

 I'd like to tell you the importance of staying safe and anonymous on the internet today. I have been recently reviewing an article with students about how hackers have used the owner's computers and webcams to spy on people and post their findings in some really bad websites. This wasn't so scary as I found out they had very little to no protection against this type of malicious attack! Many of my students use their real names instead of using regular handles or even fake names on their accounts and sadly enough this is an open target for some really nasty jerks. 

 To understand the mindsets of hackers, we have to understand that this is actually their version of fun. To be able to control someone else's computer to either learn about their activities, or to be able to ruin someone else's life. Yes, ok, they also like to make you reformat your computer if you have accidentally installed a virus or malware, but ultimately they get the thrill of the sense of control your fear and ignorance gives them. 

This should NOT be tolerated and feared. You shouldn't have to be afraid to turn on your computers, or go to strange new worlds on the internet. Instead simply learn how they could attack you and be careful. Use the correct tools to defend yourself and be smart. The first idea is to get a GOOD virus control program. Hackers TRAIN on Norton and McAfee so these programs offer little value as they honestly do not do much good except to slow your system down and give you either false positives (meaning it found something and it was really nothing) or not properly detect the malicious program. So use a different free antivirus program like Avast or Antivir. Both are free and both offer some level of protection. They offer paid subscriptions for professional level strength, as well as using upgradable programs themselves so this adds an extra layer of confusion and frustration to hackers as well as their viruses.

THIS IS NOT ENOUGH THOUGH! Virus programs do just that, look for and try to stop virus signatures. This is a nice idea if this were the only threat on the internet. The most popular threat comes in the form of what's known as malware, adware, and spyware. These 3 are actually not viruses. They are installed when your installing a computer program, and tries to sneak in a little extra something with the installation. (Especially movie sites offering "Free Codecs" to see the movie) These three are in the forms of tool bars, or some other disguise. A virus detector program will not pick them up because again technically they are not viruses. However they will monitor which websites you go to, get the information together about what files you have on your computer and also make sure you see plenty of ads from "their sponsors"(which you don't want to see of course), while slowing down your internet connection to a crawl. Due to the fact that these are actually automatically starting programs they will slow down your computer considerably as your computer tries to figure out how much spam to give you after sending the information back to the junkware maker's central computer. 

The worst threat though is not through these forms of attacks though. The worst form is through trojans. A trojan is a program that allows another computer to remotely control your computer. This means the hacker can delete any file they want to, control your webcam or microphone, be able to do silly pranks to you and yes of course find out the contents of just about any file on your computer. While malware only slows your computer down, and spyware only reports what you actually DO on your computer, this literally turns over the control of your computer to some other little jerk who would like nothing better than to scare you for his amusement while of course getting important information in the process. Sadly enough most trojan programs are small so they do not take up alot of system resources so they hardly go noticed if you do not look for them. (Of course if the little punk wants to destroy your computer you'll be able to notice it then but oh well too late.) 

So at this point you might be scared. I don't blame you. However this is not a time to run and hide away from your computer. Instead it's time to grow a little wiser and a bit smarter in your habits. After you get yourself a decent antivirus program, make sure to use a program like PCdoctor with anti-malware included. I used to use the free version of spybot search and destroy until they decided to have a separate pay service. (I don't believe that good protection should have to come at a price.) Although if you follow the scanning instructions, clean out the junk files and do a little investigating with this powerful tool you can understand that it is very efficient against these forms of bugs. Also Malware Bytes is another good program that works well against these little attackers. Now kingsoft does offer a free anti-virus program as well, but I didn't think they were that impressive when watching some tests on youtube, but since it's so light weight, if your computer can handle it I would use it for a backup safety net, and do use it, at the same time as my Avast. 

Then after your system is cleared from bugs and other nasties make sure your system is properly maintained by repairing the registry and keeping an eye on startup programs. The final tool I would recommend would be Tool wiz. Yes again it's free. This can clean up your system very nicely although it doesn't really have any anti malware or anti virus support but it is kind of a swiss army knife for working with your computer. If you use this tool correctly you should be able to perform some simple maintenance on your computer to make sure it works flawlessly. 

Well this has been a rather long message and I'm sorry I really needed to get some good old fashioned common sense out to the readers. So next time I'll try to talk more about how you can again protect yourself for free, and be able to have a little more security on the internet. So with that, please take care of yourselves and your computer, as it's the most powerful tool on the face of this earth second only to your minds and bye for now..

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