What is malware?

Malware is any kind of software that compromises security (or performs other bad actions) on a user's computer. Malware, as a general category, includes spyware, viruses, Trojan horses, and a host of other sometimes whimsical names for security compromising software.

What is phishing?

Phishing is a social engineering technique whereby hackers send authentic-looking emails to a user in order to persuade the user to share some sort of valuable information (e.g., for identity theft or other fraud).
One specialized technique is 'spear phishing'. In this scam, email apparently from a trusted organizational representative is sent to that person's organization in order to glean credentials for subsequent hacking attacks.

What is spyware?

Spyware is computer software that is generally surreptitiously installed on a computer in order to collect information from the computer's user. Such information includes:

  • Web sites visited
  • Keys typed (including chat sessions and word processors)
  • Other application data (including the other half of chat sessions and displayed email)
  • File contents
  • Search habits
  • Camera images
  • Sound received by the computer's microphone

Note that spyware is installed without a users' permission. Some programs (e.g., filtering software for juveniles) are installed by parents or institutions for the express purpose of 'spying'. Presumably the spied-upon users are informed (vs. the surreptitious paradigm used by spyware).

What is a firewall?

A firewall is a piece of hardware (or sometimes software on a user's computer) that examines all network traffic destined to one or more computers. It applies filtering rules to try to remove malicious traffic before it can reach a user's computer.
Most security experts recommend using both a firewall and also antivirus software.

How do antivirus programs work?

Antivirus programs monitor a computer's file creation mechanism and use sophisticated pattern-matching mechanisms to see if new files have a 'signature' that matches any known malware.
The list of malware signatures must be updated regularly (an operation performed automatically by any reputable antivirus program).

What is the weakest link in my computer's security?

Generally, passwords are the weakest link in any security situation. The temptation to lend a workstation or account to someone is very high. Once the password is known, somehow others seem to learn it as if by telepathy. Keeping your passwords secret is the first step to keeping your system secure.

Why you need antivirus?

Antivirus software detects, and then prevents, removes malicious programs, often referred to as 'viruses'. Antivirus doesn't offer a perfect solution to the problem of malware, but it is a critical first step to securing your PC or laptop. To help prevent viruses infecting your PC you must install antivirus, and then regularly update your antivirus software. Most of the antivirus software will update automatically.

Need of Updating virus definitions

New viruses are coming out all the time. It is the job of the antivirus software to keep up with the latest threats. This is achieved by daily updates of the antivirus database definitions, which counteract the latest threats to provide constant protection.

What is a Virtual Private Network (VPN)?

A restricted-use, logical (i.e., artificial or simulated) computer network that is constructed from the system resources of a relatively public, physical (i.e., real) network (such as the Internet), often by using encryption (located at hosts or gateways), and often by tunneling links of the virtual network across the real network. For example, if a corporation has LANs at several different sites, each connected to the Internet by a firewall, the corporation could create a VPN by (a) using encrypted tunnels to connect from firewall to firewall across the Internet and (b) not allowing any other traffic through the firewalls. A VPN is generally less expensive to build and operate than a dedicated real network, because the virtual network shares the cost of system resources with other users of the real network.