As our modern world becomes ever more tied to computers and the systems that run it, our computer networks are constantly under the threat of hackers, spam and malware. We may be living in a constantly connected, dynamic society, but the benefits of the modern world’s dynamic nature are coming at a price to people’s person information security. Recent developments in the field of computer security have shown just how large of an uphill battle the public and our institutions are fighting against the unseen forces that endanger our computer networks.
The problem of spam and malware has increased a whopping 80% since last quarter, partly attributed to the advent of new procedures online including shortened URLS, frequently used on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
When it comes to condensed URLs used on Facebook and Twitter shortened links, “The caution that users usually apply when they view search results and news links disappears behind the obfuscating address,” the a McAfee security report notes.
According to a report issued at the recent Black Hat security conference, another recent computer security threat is that of the Machiavelli technique, in which hackers take control of already victimized Macintosh computers and steal protected data. This technique takes control of the Safari browser before gaining data to protected information such as financial records.
Macs are the apple’ of the public’s eye due to their impressive applications and high-end computers, but according to security expert Dai Zovi and others, who authored the report on the technique, attacks on Macs will rise as they gain market share on PC’s running Windows. Mac’s operating system will be easier to attack for hackers because it has much more code, therefore allowing them to have a larger affect on the system.
People today are constantly under the threat of malware posing as antivirus software. Many have experienced the hassles and sometimes truly dangerous consequences of fake antivirus software, but many people probably do not realize just how prevalent and resourceful this army of malware really is. According to PandaLabs, the samples of fake antivirus software have been reproducing like crazy and grew to 374,000 by the second quarter of 2009. The company estimates that as many as 35 million computers per month are infected by rogue antivirus programs, mostly due to users who are not diligent enough in checking out the programs they pay for. These samples are a big family to feed, and they will feed on the inattentive and uninformed.
Although it is a challenging battle, there are a few methods by which you can fight these forces.
1) Don’t always provide your e-mail address and apply strong caution when opening a suspicious e-mail sent to you.
2) Be careful when following links on social networking sites. If there’s a tag to the link, pay attention to what it says before clicking.
3) Don’t download pirated software or media: For hacking techniques such as Machiavelli, do as much as possible to avoid downloading pirated software and avoid pirated media that will put you at serious risk.
(via Wired, Cnet and News.com.au)
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