Computer Internet Security

How to increase your computer Internet security

Computer Internet security is one of the web's hottest topics as identity theft, spyware infections, and virus attacks are all on the rise. Protect yourself by learning about the biggest computer Internet security threats and why your computer may be vulnerable. You may be surprised to learn that confidential information is often stored on your computer without your knowledge.

Computer Internet Security Statistics

These alarming numbers indicate why computer Internet security is critical!

  • Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America. (USPS)
  • CBS News reported that every 79 seconds an identity thief hacks into a computer, steals a victim's identity, and then goes on a buying spree.
  • One in 20 consumers has been a victim of credit card fraud and one in 50 consumers has suffered identity theft in the past 12 months. (MSNBC)
  • It costs the average victim more than $1,000 to cope with the damage from identity theft. (Identity Theft Protection Information & Resource Center)
  • Over 50% of all companies report being hit by a virus each year. (SecurityStats.com)
  • Over 20% of all computers are currently infected with spyware. (PC Pitstop)

Computer Internet Security Threats

These are computer Internet security threats that can crash your system, corrupt your files, or steal your personal information. Computer Internet security threats can cost you thousands if you do not protect yourself.

Here is a glossary of computer Internet security terms:

Adware - Adware decreases computer Internet security by collecting information about a user's web surfing patterns in order to display pop-up advertisements.

Hacker - Hackers are individuals who break into computer systems and compromise computer Internet security by stealing or corrupting data.

Key Logger - Key loggers may come in the form of spyware or viruses. A file is created of each key typed and then sent out over the Internet. Computer Internet security is at risk as this file may contain credit card numbers, online banking information, passwords, confidential e-mails, and anything else typed on the keyboard.

Phishing - Phishing is a form of spam where a bogus e-mail is sent out mimicking legitimate online businesses. The email directs users to a false web site asking for account information such as credit card numbers. When a user enters this information, computer Internet security is lost and identity theft occurs.

Spam - Spam is electronic junk mail sent over the Internet. In addition to wasting time and bandwidth, spam threatens computer Internet security with all types of e-mail scams. It is a good computer Internet security practice to never give out personal information in response to spam.

Spyware – Spyware is a form of software that installs and runs without the user's knowledge. Spyware is one of today's biggest computer Internet security threats. Often spyware will monitor keystrokes, scan files on the hard drive, snoop other applications, such as chat programs or word processors, read cookies, change the default homepage, install other spyware programs, and send all retrieved information back to the spyware author. With this stolen information a thief can easily compromise a user's computer Internet security.

Trojan Horse – Named after the wooden horse used by the Greeks to conquer the city of Troy, a Trojan horse is a malicious program that pretends to be harmless. Computer Internet security is then compromised as the Trojan horse corrupts and destroys files.

Virus – Viruses are programs written to intentionally infect a computer without the user's permission or knowledge. A virus attaches to files or boot sectors, replicates itself, and destroys computer Internet security by corrupting files, draining system resources, and transmitting itself to other computers.

Worm – Worms are similar to viruses and destroy computer Internet security by multiplying, damaging files, and spreading over computer networks. One main difference is that worms can automatically transfer themselves to other machines. Often infected machines are used as zombie computers to send out spam and other computer Internet security threats.

Computer Internet Security Vulnerabilities:

While, browsing the Internet, running programs, and accessing files on your computer, your hard drive accumulates many temporary files and histories. These files may include passwords, credit card numbers, confidential documents, and tracks of every site or file you have viewed.

Spyware, Trojan horses, viruses, and worms can all access these types of files. Run computer Internet security software as your first line of defense, because what's not there can't be stolen!

Places on Your Computer where Data Might Be Stored:

Address Bar - Clicking on the drop-down arrow on the right of the address bar will display a list of the URL's you have typed in. Computer Internet security software will clear this list.

Auto-Complete - A feature that stores almost anything typed into a web site form including passwords, names, addresses, and search terms. Remove auto-complete entries automatically by running computer Internet security software or by disabling the auto-complete function in your web browser.

Browser History - While surfing the Internet browsers keep a full log of visited sites. This log can be accessed by websites you visit and by anyone using your computer. Clear your browser history either under Tools/ Internet Options or by using computer Internet security software.

Cache - Web page information such as images and documents that are automatically saved to the hard drive for faster loading of that page in the future. Clear cache files with computer Internet security software.

Cookies - Cookies are small text files that are both stored and sent out by web browsers. Many companies use cookies to log surfing patterns and to obtain personal information for advertising purposes. Remove cookies either under Tools/ Internet Options or by using computer Internet security software.

"Deleted" Files - Deleting a file or folder does not erase your data. Windows only deletes the file record, not the contents of a file. As a result, the free space of a hard drive is filled with recoverable files. Computer Internet security software erases files found on the free space of a hard drive and can also permanently remove individual files and folders in Windows.

"Deleted" E-mails - Previously deleted e-mail messages often remain hidden in e-mail archives. Permanently remove these lingering files with computer Internet security software.

File Slack - Windows master file indexes (FAT and NTFS) divide the drive spaces in clusters. Because only one file can be stored in a cluster, file slack is the space between the last byte in a file and the end of the last cluster holding the file. This extra space contains whatever file information that cluster previously contained and can only be removed with computer Internet security software.

Index.dat Files – Index.dat files are hidden files in multiple directories that keep a record of every web page you have visited. Deleting the cache, temporary Internet files, and cookies will not remove these records. These hard to find files can be cleaned using computer Internet security software.

Recycle Bin – Windows copies files to the Recycle Bin when deleted. These files can be recovered with the click of a mouse. Simply emptying these files out of the Recycle Bin will not permanently remove them. Use computer Internet security software to make these files unrecoverable.

Swap Files – In order to run multiple programs at the same time with a limited amount of physical memory, Windows creates a temporary file called a swap file. Swap files contain application data such as passwords, pieces of documents, email–basically anything in the memory. Use computer Internet security software to erase leftover swap files.

Temporary Files – Windows often stores temporary files in "Temp" folders that remain on the hard drive. Erase these temporary directories with computer Internet security software.

Increase Computer Internet Security in 5 Steps

  1. Install a computer Internet security program to permanently erase all traces of your personal information.
  2. Install antivirus software and update it regularly.
  3. Scan all e-mails and attachments for viruses, filter out spam, and beware of e-mails asking for personal information for any purpose.
  4. Install anti-spyware software.
  5. Install a firewall to block unauthorized access to your computer.