Common cyber threats to a home computer and how to protect against them

Since the beginning of Internet, home computers have been under constant threat and these circumstances show no trend of decreasing. On the contrary, more and more harmful programs are being devised and executed every day. However, not everything is hopeless: as long as there are people devising these threats, there will always be people to come up with protection against them. In this article, you can read on some of the most common threats for home computers, as well as ways to protect against them.

VIRUS

Viruses are, without a doubt, the most widespread form of security threats. Basically, anything that “infects“ a computer without the user's knowledge or permission is a virus. The basic division of viruses can be separated into:

· Worms

· Trojan Horse

· Backdoor

· Spyware

A computer worm is a program (or a group of programs) that is capable of spreading its functional copies or their segments into other computers. It usually does this online. The host worm is fully located and executed on a host computer and it only uses the network connection to spread to other computers. Worms usually don't possess a destructive code meant to destroy data, but because of their ability of unlimited creation of their own copies, they can clog up traffic on specific segments of the network.

Trojan Horse is not actually a virus, although it's often perceived as such. It's exactly like its name: a program that is capable of doing things undefined by its specification or documentation. Trojans is usually not destructive by itself, but it often contains a code that is activated after a user starts a seemingly harmless program.

Backdoor virus can slip into your computer and, for example, enable someone to “use“ your computer when you connect to the Internet, like a remote.

Spyware are programs that track your computer activity and inform someone else about it. Sounds scary? Well, you probably have at least a couple of spyware programs on your computer at this very moment.

SPAM, HOAXES, PHISHING

Spam is junk email, but usually of lower risk than viruses. The actual danger of spam doesn't lie in receiving it, but in opening it or possibly becoming a transmitter.

Phishing, on the other hand, is much more dangerous. It's a form of a computer threat where a phony website is imitating another, legitimate site. Through these websites, attackers can collect personal data, usernames, passwords and other sensitive data.

PROTECTION

The most common methods of protection against these threats are: antivirus, anti-spyware, and firewalls.

Antivirus software is used to detect and eliminate the most common and known viruses. How? It compares the patterns of known viruses, virus “signatures“, and searches for them in your memory and databases. This is a great way to fight known viruses, but antivirus programs have also come up with a way to fight other, unknown viruses. They use an algorithm for detecting viruses not only according to their signature, but according to their behavioral patterns. To obtain a good, reliable antivirus software like Norton, Avira or Panda you have to pay either a monthly subscription or buy the full software. There are also a lot of free antivirus programs on the market, like Avast, McAfee, and AVG.

In the same way, anti-spyware programs scan for spyware and instantly block all detected threats. Nowadays, they are usually embedded into antivirus programs.

Firewalls allow or deny, according to pre-set rules, certain ports, protocols, or IP addresses. Like their name says, they serve as protection between a user's system and another system deemed unreliable or threatening.

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