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 Current Threats
Lowprofiled Risk virus

Simply put, a computer virus is a computer program that is created to make and spread copies of itself. The program may however also be designed to have other effects on the systems it infects, ranging from the annoying to the disastrous.

Never use the Internet, or receive e-mail attachments, or use files created on other computers, or use any disk that isn't received shrink-wrapped fresh from the manufacturer. In other words it is difficult to avoid them; your best defence is a reputable and up-to-date Antivirus program along with an updated operating system.

Occasionally you may receive an e-mail message warning you of dire consequences if you open a message with a particular subject line, common ones are "Join the Crew" and "Pen pals". These messages are hoaxes. There is no way such a virus could be transmitted by a simple e-mail message. Viruses can be carried by attachments to e-mail messages, but will be picked up easily by an up to date Antivirus program. If you do receive a message like this, DO NOT forward it on to other people. Just delete and ignore it. The only virus involved with messages like these is the messages themselves, they spread around the internet, multiplying as they go, clogging up the lines and slowing down legitimate traffic. Spyware and Adware are files that are installed on your computer without your knowledge. They allow companies to monitor your Internet browsing patterns and even allow companies to inundate you with those annoying pop up advertisements. Companies can track your surfing habits, profile your shopping preferences, hijack your browser, and even install unwanted software on your computer.

The results of Spyware and Adware can vary but here are some of the most common complaints:

  • Resets your Homepage – When you open up your browser, you are taken to a different homepage than the one you specified. If so, then you probably have a Spyware problem!
  • Changes Search Results – Have you noticed that when you click on a link, instead of going where you expected, you are taken to a different site than the one you clicked on? Pop Up Ads Displayed – Are you seeing so many pop up ads that you can’t close them fast enough to keep up?
  • Install Unwanted Software – Have you noticed new programs installed on your computer like Golden Palace that you did not install?
  • Slow Browsers – Have you noticed that your web browser is taking longer to load pages than before?
  • Toolbars Added to your Browser – Have you noticed any new toolbars added to your browser?

Most Spyware is installed without you even knowing it when you click on pop up ads, download music files, install free programs, and so on. You can avoid getting Spyware and Adware by being more judicious about what you click on and what you install on your computer. However, if you have Spyware and Adware, you can either purchase a Spyware removal program or you can download a free one to help clean Spyware from your computer. Often, we have to download two or three different programs to completely clean computers. Please be aware that even if you use one of these programs, they might not catch all of the problems on your computer.

Microsoft periodically distributes large updates to its operating systems in the form of Service Packs and Hotfixes to fix known vulnerabilities and problems. Service Packs include all the major and minor fixes up to the date of the service pack, and are extensively tested by Microsoft prior to release. Microsoft also distributes intermediate updates to their operating systems in the form of a Hotfix. These updates are usually small and address a single problem. Hotfixes can be released within hours of discovering a particular bug or vulnerability. The process of discovering which Service Pack and hotfixes are needed has been automated since the release of Windows XP. The following steps outline the automated process of discovering and installing Service Packs and hotfixes to a Windows XP system. Open Internet Explorer, Go to Tools-> Windows Update

When asked if you trust Microsoft, say yes to proceed. Windows update will take a few moments to analyze your system. You will then be prompted with a listing of Service Packs or Hotfixes available for your system. To download updates click on the Windows link.

Secure passwords help protect both your computer and your accounts (i.e. online banking, e-mail, UNIX, etc.). It is very important that you have secure passwords for every account on your computer as well as for all of your accounts. Without a secure password on your computer, you are inviting hackers to set up shop on your computer. Once hackers have access to your computer, they can use it for all sorts of things without you ever realizing it. Here are some good password tips to follow to help keep your passwords secure. Keep your password(s) to yourself - Never give your password to anyone, including your mum, roommate, boyfriend, etc. Avoid writing it down at all, and if you do, keep it in a secure place (hint: hanging a yellow post-it note on your monitor in your dorm room is not a secure place), and destroy it after you have memorised it.

Use hard-to-crack password - Hackers can figure out people's passwords by plugging in all the words in a dictionary to see if there is a match. So, don't use dictionary words or phrases like govols! Use words not found in the dictionary and include numerals in the word.

Regularly change your password - Using the same password over a long period of time increases the chance of it becoming cracked. You should change your passwords every 30-60 days.

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