Malware and Botnets
Viruses are malware that are harmful computer programs that can be transmitted in numerous ways. They are designed to replicate and spread themselves from one computer to another through the Internet and infect data on the computer and interfere with system (Computer) operation.
Spyware and adware are programs that can download themselves onto your computer without permission typically when you visit an unsafe website, via an attachment or through software vulnerabilities. They might simply open an advertisement you didn't want to see (adware) or in the worst cases, track your online movements, track personal or sensitive information, steal your passwords and compromise your accounts. They are designed to be difficult to remove.
Botnets are a network of bots. A bot is a malicious computer programs that can turn a computer into a bot (short for robot), also called a zombie. When this occurs, the computer can perform automated tasks over the Internet without the user’s knowledge. They are typically used to infect large numbers of computers and these computers form a network, or a botnet. Botnets can be used to send out spam email messages, spread viruses, monitor online activity, modify personal information and commit other kinds of crime and fraud. Many botnets are designed to harvest data, such as passwords, social security numbers, credit card numbers, addresses, telephone numbers, and other personal information. The data is then used for nefarious purposes, such as identity theft, credit card fraud, spamming (sending junk email), website attacks, and malware distribution. If your computer becomes part of a botnet, it might slow down and you might be inadvertently helping criminals.
How to Protect Yourself?
- Install antivirus and antispyware programs from a trusted source. Anti-malware programs scan and monitor your computer for known viruses and spyware.
- Keep all software up to date. Regularly install updates for all your software and subscribe to automatic updates wherever possible.
- Be cautious about clicking links, opening attachments or downloading any files from emails, instant message, or posts on social networks (like Facebook) you receive. Links in email, tweets, posts, and online advertising are often the way cybercriminals compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it’s best to delete it.
- Use strong passwords (CSU password policy requires password must be a minimum of eight (8) characters; Must include one upper case letter and at least one digit; Must not be the user’s first or last name) and do not share your passwords.
- Use flash drives cautiously. Flash drives (thumb drive/USBs) and other external devices can be infected with viruses or putting your flash drive (thumb drive/USBs) in a computer that is infected could corrupt the flash drive.
- Be cautious of what software and applications you install. Only download software from websites you trust.
- Don't click on links within pop-up windows. Pop-up windows are often a product of spyware, clicking on the window may install spyware software on your computer. To close the pop-up window, click on the "X" icon in the title bar instead of a "close" link within the window.