If you own a computer and have access to the internet, then the security of your computer should be rated top priority ! Gone are the days of DOS and Windows 3.1, Windows 95 and Windows 98, where all one needed to do, was check any program files obtained from a friend or member of ones family, for virus.

The world has changed drastically, since then, and not for the good I am sorry to say. In today's world of advanced technology, all sorts of horrors have emerged. We now have viruses passed by email, peer to peer connections, download sites, online chat, compromised websites, rootkits, keyloggers, packet sniffers, hackers and fake security software and that's not the end of it, there is also Spam, spyware, phishing, malware and ransomware, and Zombie Networks and whatever the future brings to worry our heads about ! I hope the following can be of some help.
Useful resources........

Email virus.
The name pretty well describes the way the virus works. A virus is downloaded to the computer via the owners email account. The infected email could be a file attached to an email which is a SPAM email, or it could be in an email sent from someone you know. Now common sense tells you that unless you recently had a blazing row with that friend (or the have a warped sense of humour), they are not going to try to damage your computer on purpose. They most likely are blissfully unaware that their computer is sending out infected emails. What has happend is that they received an infected email, which once in their computer system, then finds their contact list and sends itself to everyone on that contact list, you included ! 
Another way that you can be infected is by clicking on a URL/link to another website, for example YouTube that has been sent to you by a friend or in a spam message. Now this could be a perfectly innocent email, and be a link to YouTube, on the other hand it could be an  email sent from your friends infected computer, with a forged link, which although it is written as, it is actually coded to go to a totally different website, where if you are unlucky accessing the website automatically installs a small file on you computer which could do a number of things, all of which are very dangerous and could end up with you having your data stolen, your identity stolen, your email account accessed by others than yourself, or your computer turned into yet another zombie computer coupled to a spam network or used to crash a countries computer networks.

Protecting yourself.
One good way to protect yourself against email virus, is to install a program that allows you to access the mail on your ISP's email server and see what's there, without downloading it to your computer. If you  find a suspicious email, look at what is known as "headers" for the email. Most programs that access mail servers and allow you to look at your email on your ISP's servers, have an option to view the headers. The headers will look rather frightening at first glance, but after reading through them, and not bothering with all the numbers and weird stuff, you will see that the senders email address is shown, and which server the email was first sent from. If someone has forged your friends address, you will see you friends address, for example  my, then if the headers show that the email came from, then you can pretty well be certain that something is definitely wrong ! The suspect email can now be deleted from the server, without downloading it. Or just to make sure, contact your friend and ask if they sent you an email.

If you get an email with a URL/link to a common site like YouTube telling you to view a fantastic video, some email programs give you the option of copying the link/web address to your clipboard. To do this, highlight the complete link, right click on it and if you are lucky in the menu that pops up, there will be the option to "copy link",  "copy web address" or "copy URL". Left click on "copy link / Web address /URL and then open a text editor eg:- "Notepad" in Windows. When the text editor is open, click on paste from the menu, and if the web address you see is actually  then it is genuine, if it says something totally different, get rid of the email.

Peer To Peer Connections.
Linking to Peer To Peer networks can also be an easy way to be infected. These networks allow you to download files from other peoples computers, that the other person has marked as available. Most of these networks offer free downloads of music, movies etc
in theory a great way to get things you want, but in practice, you open up your computer to suspicious files. You risk getting a modified file that could unleash something that you hadn't bargained for. Some antivirus programs monitor peer to peer connections.

Disreputable Download Sites.
Often in the hunt for software, one can be led to sites offering the full version of well known software complete with registration/unlocking key, quite often software that costs a small fortune. Beware, quite often the downloaded files are infected, or if a key generator is included to unlock the program, it could be doing something other than generating the required key.

Online Chat.
Viruses or malware can be sent through Online Chat sessions, beware of offers to send you a file from someone you don't know or trust..

Compromised websites.
These can easily be a website belonging to a well known firm that has been compromised without the firm knowing and had some malicious code injected into the pages of the website. It has been quite widespread on supermarket websites etc. Once the visitor accesses the compromised page, a file is downloaded to the computer and installed, unless the users antivirus or firewall software manages to stop it. One way to help to try to prevent compromised websites from infecting you computer is to disable Java and Flash, but this is pretty impractical, as a large majority of sites use both these days. Like this one for example.
One way to help to protect ones self is to access the net using secure DNS servers which check the connection to a web address against a blacklist of compromised and malicious sites.
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These are nasty files that get planted in your computer system and are invisible. They can unleash all manner of evils. Most antivirus programs and  anti-spyware/malware software check the system for rootkits, there is also dedicated anti- rootkit software available.

Key Loggers.
A file which can be planted on a computer system in various ways. A key logger does exactly the name implies, it logs every key you touch and records everything you write, and then sends it to a hacker, cyber criminal who are just wating to get you user names and passwords to your internet accounts, bank account number, and credit card number when you shop online, or what you write in you emails etc. Some legitimate programs, for example Microsoft Office, have a key logger, which is necessary for them to function. A good firewall or antivirus program will alert you to a keylogger in action.

Packet Sniffers
A utilitie that can capture and analyse and recoed data packets sent through a network. They can be used to capture passwords, user names, credit card details etc. For more information see :-

Scareware / Fake Security Software.
Advertised as effective antivirus software, antimalware/spyware software etc. Adverts for these can be found on webpages, and can also pop up when a website is visited. Beware of websites where a free scan of your system is offered. Whilst some of these offers maybe legitimate some are not. If a scan is started, normally the visitor is made aware of the fact that his/her computer has numerous infections. He/she is told to download the software in order to remove the infections, if ones computer has not already been infected during the scan, installing the software will infect it. It will seem that the antivirus software is working, but it is actually doing malicious things in the background. Many people have fallen for this trap, and have also registered and paid for a "full version" of the software, thereby willingly providing the cyber criminals with their personal details and credit card number.

Spam Email.
While spam emails can be classed as just a damn nuisance, they can also carry malware as an attachment. Delete all spam email without opening it, or if you cannot resist opening it, check that it doesn't have an attachment. Checking your email on your ISP's POP3 server without downloading it onto your computer is recommended. You can then delete any unwanted email direct on the server. Two good items of software for doing this are :- Mailwasher (free version, restricted to one email account POP3 or Webmail) or G Lock Spam Combat (totally free, not restricted).

Phishing is an attempt to get a person to reveal their personal information in order to steal the persons identity and use it for personal gain. This is particularly nasty, as the victim can end up getting bills for products they never bought, being arrested for car theft and all manner of terrible things they know nothing about. This type misuse can take years to overcome, and bring a great deal of personal stress, harrassment and misery.

Typical Phishing can be a phone call supposedly from ones bank or other institution, or emails supposedly from your bank or whatever. Usually the email has the bank/ firms/institutions logo and looks very official and authentic. Lets us suppose one receives an email  from ones bank. The email has the banks logo etc and actually looks like the heading used on your bank statements or bank communications. The email informs you that due to some error you need to provide the bank with some details pertaining to your account, or that due to an error, your account will be closed unless you log on to your account via the internet. Most likely there will be a link to your banks website for you to click on, and will be written as or something similar. It all looks very genuine but that link is actually coded to go to some other web address where you are greeted with what really does look like the banks official website. Unfortunately it isn't, it's just a copy of the banks website so when you log in and maybe fill in a form with you account number and personal data, you are actually sending your sensitive personal data to a cyber criminal.

With this type of email it is best to remember that banks/firms/institutions or Microsoft do not usually send emails to their customers informing them of errors or requests for personal data. IF IN DOUBT ring to the institution and check ! One thing that may give away the fact that it is a phishing email, is the spelling, quite often there are a few badly spelt words or badly written phrases in the emails text.

Phone phishing is harder to authenticate and is in a way more dangerous, because you are suddenly interrupted by the phone, a pleasant friendly sounding person informs you that they are phoning from ...For example.. your bank ... because something has happened to your bank account, for example they have noticed that a large sum of money has been withdrawn from it, and would you be kind enough to verify your account details etc. This way of phishing has a phsycological  advantage, because it takes you completely by surprise, and with the person talking on the other end of the line, your state of panic over the news they have told you, can cause most people to respond favourably to the callers request before they are aware of what may be happening. Again, don't give out any information, tell them that you suddenly have to rush to the bathroom, or something, and ask to ring back. If you get a number to ring to, then check it out. If the person disconnects the call, or refuses to give a number, then you can be sure it is a bogus call.
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If all the ploys mentioned up to now haven't got you a bit worried, this should ! One of the latest tricks of cyber criminals is ransomware, so called because all you data on your computer is held to ransom. What happens is that your computer gets infected by a trojan which encrypts all your data and you can no longer access it. The first symptom of this, is that suddenly your text program, typically Notepad for Windows users, opens up and informs you that your data has been encrypted and payment is demanded, or your desktop background is changed and a message appears instead. When this message pops up you only have seconds to react by cutting the power to the computer as fast as humanly as possible according to Kaspersky Antivirus. It doesn't sound like paying the demanded sum of money will do much good, the general opinion is that the de-cryption software that the hijackers state is available when the ransom is paid probably will not be sent, and also if no one pays the ransom, then there is no profit for the purpatrators and hopefully they will give up.
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Zombie Computers / Botnets.
Zombie networks comprise of thousands or millions of compromised computers, used to distribute spam, or launch attacks on other networks. Typically most computer owners are unaware that their computer has been taken over, as the network connection is hidden and the process runs in the background. One indication that something is amiss may be an increase in CPU and hard disk activity. It is always a good thing to regularly check how many resources ones computer is using. Any drastic increase in the amount of memory or CPU usage constantly being used over a lonishg period of time could serve as an indicator that some thing strange is going on behind your back !
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