Viruses are programs or a piece of code that is downloaded to your computer without your knowledge. Many viruses are disguised as email attachments. When the attachment is opened the virus attaches itself to your system. Many times this happens without your knowledge. Should you receive a suspicious email, it is best to delete the email immediately.
Anti-virus software programs have been created to help protect your system from these attacks. Be cautious about offers for “free” anti-virus software and make sure you get your software from a highly reputable company. To remain protected against the newest threats you should maintain updates to your anti-virus software program. You should also use precaution when opening email attachments.
Basically, a firewall is a barrier to keep destructive forces away from your property. In fact, that's why it’s called a firewall. Its job is similar to a physical firewall that keeps a fire from spreading from one area to the next. A firewall filters the information coming through the Internet connection into your private network or computer system. If an incoming packet of information is flagged by the filters, it is not allowed through.
There are several manufacturers of firewall software; we encourage you to research what works best for you. Most common operating system software (including Windows XP and Vista) often come with built-in firewall functionality, but you may have to enable it.
Spyware is a type of tracking software installed on computers that collects information about users without their knowledge. The presence of spyware is typically hidden from the user and can be difficult to detect. Advertises use spyware to enable them to track user behavior and promote their products.
If your internet browser doesn't load pages as quickly as it used to, one possible cause of the bottleneck might be that your computer has become the victim of spyware. Many times spyware is attacked to freeware that you may have downloaded.
In some cases this may just be a nuisance. In other cases, there are malicious hackers who have created spyware programs for the purpose of collecting sensitive data from your system as well as installing additional software. The spyware may allow someone to read, write, and delete files, download and install other software, change the default homepage, monitor keystrokes, or even format the hard drive. Your privacy is at risk when spyware is used by criminals.
There is software that is available to find and delete the programs from your computer. These programs can also protect you from downloading spyware in the future.
Computer manufacturers offer automatic updates that notify you when a new update or upgrade is available for download. Regularly updating and maintaining your operating system, web browser, and software programs will help protect your computer from possible security flaws.
Credit Reporting Monitoring
By monitoring your credit report, you can make sure that no one has opened bank accounts or applied and been approved for loans in your name using stolen information. Nationwide consumer reporting companies will provide you with a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months. There are three major credit bureau reporting agencies, and depending on where you apply for credit, the credit-issuing company may review reports from one or all of these to determine your credit rating. You should review your credit report at least annually. You can request a copy of your credit report at the following:
- Equifax: 1-800-685-1111 or www.equifax.com
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742 or www.experian.com
- Transunion: 1-800-916-8800 or www.transunion.com