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Malware, or malicious software

By Mark Rawcliffe features@algarveresident.com

Malware, or malicious software as it is properly known, includes virus applications and also spyware, which can easily be the most damaging and intrusive of all hacker software used to disrupt the operation of the computer. The method is simple – they gain access to the computer to allow the hacker further access to files, folders, security information and to implant key stroke programmes. When a hacker has access, it is often without your knowledge, unseen and seemingly inert. The hacker can exploit security issues, open a back door into your computer and steal your information: details about your personal life, passwords, bank accounts, security information – the things we store on our computers believing them to be safe.

by Sérgio Fortuna

Microsoft support professional, with over 15 years’ experience in all types of computer systems. Algarve Computer Centre

Once again the PC is more at risk than its Apple/Mac counterpart – hacker and exploitation applications seem to prefer Windows to Mac OS, purely because of the volume of users and the hype if an attack gets worldwide condemnation – or praise as a hacker would see it.

Here are our tips for keeping your computer and information safe:

– Make sure you have a good anti-malware/spyware software installed and that it is up to date. There are many options for download but as with antivirus software, the ones you pay for aren’t always the best. Some free ones such as Malware Bytes are excellent.

– Run your anti-virus and malware/spyware programme weekly to check for infections. Remember – new malware applications are being developed faster than the protection programmes can be up dated. Doing this check weekly should ensure nothing nasty lies beneath.

– Make sure you run your Microsoft Update weekly. In most cases, Microsoft will automatically install updates that block security issues. You can however change the settings so be sure to manually run the update programme.

– Use your head – no, don’t bang it on the screen if you get an infection. Be sensible. Change your passwords often. Make sure they contain numbers, letters and upper and lower cases. Don’t use the same passwords for your bank as you do for less important things and don’t store passwords on your computer. The old fashioned pen and paper works well.

– And finally, do not install anything you are unsure about. Ask a colleague, talk to friends, search the internet, and if you are still unsure, speak to your local computer technician.

Next time we will be bringing you our views on the physical security of your electronic world.

To contact Sérgio Fortuna at Algarve Computer Centre, please call 282 356 560 or email info@algarvecomputercentre.com. Visit also www.algarvecomputercentre.com

by Russell Newton

Apple Certified Macintosh Technician, Apple Certified Support Professional, Apple Certified Technical Coordinator, Apple Product Professional. Newteq Solutions

Apple’s Mac OS X operating system has always had security built right into its foundations. With the latest release, OS X Mountain Lion, Mac users have even more reason to feel confident.

Malware and spyware, like any software, needs to be installed before they can run and OS X contains a number of technologies that help protect you in this regard. Let’s look briefly at just four of them.

First off, it is recommended that you always look to OS X’s Mac App Store for any programmes you may wish to install. Every application in the store has been checked and verified by Apple as safe and not containing any dubious code. It is the same concept that has kept the iPad and iPhone 100% virus-free.

Secondly, Apple’s Gatekeeper technology checks every programme during the installation process – regardless of where it came from. If the application does not contain a verifiable Developer ID and digital signature it won’t be allowed to continue – preventing you from inadvertently installing malicious software. You can of course adjust these settings if necessary.

OS X also contains a system called App Sandbox, which only allows applications to do what they are supposed to do. This means that if an application was somehow compromised by malware it would not be able to cause any real damage.

Finally, any files that are downloaded from the internet are checked for executable code as they arrive on your computer. If OS X spots a programme hidden in a file it will warn you instantly. If it appears to be a potential threat, your Mac will offer to send it straight to the Trash.

Installing OS X Mountain Lion is the surest way to protect your Mac from malware.

To contact Russell Newton at Newteq Solutions in Lagoa, please call 282 356 799 or email info@newteq.pt. Visit www.newteq.pt