Bay City Blog

Keeping your computer secure

Trevor Moon

How do viruses and trojans get into my computer ? 

At Bay City Computers there are two questions most people ask after they become infected by a nasty virus or trojan. They are:

  • how do these threats get into my computer? and
  • what motivates people to create these threats? 

We will answer the second question first because it puts the situation in perspective.  Threats these days are developed by major crime syndicates who engage in deception and fraud to steal your money or information which they can then trade with other criminals for money. 

Criminals are now engaging in what is termed "Social Engineering" which is basically a term used to describe the tricks used to deceive you into clicking on a link on a web site or opening an email which leads to your computer being infected.  

About 95% of email today consists of SPAM and many of these are scams. These scams make use of social engineering or trickery. If an email looks suspicious then it probably is.  Here are our eight tell tale signs that an email is fake.

  • You don't know the sender
  • You do know the sender but the message is out of character for that person or organisation
  • The message is alarmist saying that your account on facebook or the bank or your hotmail has been compromised and you need to confirm your password details.
  • They offer money or prizes.
  • They offer Viagra, or cheap drugs
  • They include a current popular topic for example using Michael Jackson in the heading about the time of his death.
  • Bad grammar or deliberate misspelling.
  • The email contains an attachment.

One of the worst infections that we have seen a lot of recently are rogue security software scams.   Rogue security software pretends to offer security warnings and ask you to pay for subscriptions to buy their so called software.   These rogue infections will shut down your existing security software and are difficult to turn off or hide.    These scams can appear in email, online advertisements, your social networking site, search engine results, or even in pop-up windows on your computer. They are made to appear like Windows error messages but they are not.

Another source of criminal activities are Phishing attacks which attempt to fool you into giving up confidential information by creating fake websites that mimic those from well-known companies. Westpac and NAB are Australian companies that are commonly targeted.  Emails are sent by the scammers directing you to these fake websites.  

Here are our top tips to avoid falling victim to these scams.

  • Never open an email that looks suspicious - see our top 8 tips for spotting dodgy emails above.
  • Remember banks and other financial institutions will never send an email asking you to change account information. Only respond to letters from banks sent in the post.
  • Never rush into doing anything. If you do open an email purportedly from the tax department or some other authority, don't be bullied into responding simply because you're given a deadline and threatened with some kind of penalty.
  • Phone the person or company who sent the email and check whether they actually sent the email.  Be sure you get the phone number from another correspondence or your phone book, not from the email or website.
  • Install good, up-to-date security software like Trend Micro™ Titanium™ that blocks phishing attacks and advises you of the danger.
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