Learn to recognise malicious software

Learn to recognise malicious software
You don’t have to be a tech savvy to tell if your computer or server might be in trouble. The real problem is, knowing what you are dealing with and how you can fix it. Getting rid of malware can be difficult as it tends to get around unnoticed.



 What is malicious software?

Malicious software, commonly known as malware, is any software that can harm your computer by disrupting the computer’s operating system, deleting documents, stealing protected and installing programs not approved by the user. Malware can take the form of viruses, Trojans, worms, spyware, adware, rootkits, and so on.


Signs you might be infected


You are getting an unusual amount of pop ups.
You might be familiar with pop-ups, those flashy banners appearing on different website letting you know that you are their millionth visitor and that you absolutely click on the to claim your prize. Many years ago, the Internet was suffocated with this kind of spam but, nowadays, thanks to built-in pop up blockers, the amount flashy advertisement received dropped. This is the reason why, getting an unusual amount of pop-ups might be a sign your computer is infected.


Computer slowdowns


If your computer is slow it doesn’t necessarily means that is infected, but if it freezes constantly, you can take it as a fair sign it might be in trouble. Usually, when a computer is infected, none of the essential commands will respond letting you with no other option than to reboot.
If your computer is awfully slow, you should try running a disk clean-up. If it remains slow, than check for other signs of a possible malware infection.


Your antivirus and firewall protection is disabled


Getting rid of malware can be a tricky task, as it has the ability to disable your antivirus and firewall without consent and block access to download sites of popular virus removal tools. Therefore, if you notice any suspicious activity, check if your antivirus is working. As a matter of fact, you should constantly check if your antivirus and firewall are enabled.


You notice changes of the web browser’s home page


Another way you can tell if your computer is infected is if your default home page is changed to an alternate page. Moreover, if, when you type a specific address but you are sent to a different, random site, than you should definitely run a full virus scan.


Your email account was hijacked


Even though we are constantly checking our inbox, we barley take a look at our outbox. As a result, if our friends don’t notice they started getting weird messages from you, it can take a long time until you discover your email has been hijacked and that your computer is in trouble.


Your browser is offline


Some malware have the ability to limit your internet access. So, if you cannot connect to the internet, but you are sure the network connectivity works, than it can be a sign of malware infection.


Regardless the problem, always remember to run a complete backup of your files, operating system or whatever you feel is important



How to harden your browser against malware

The Internet is a wonderful place. Aside from all the annoying ads, popping up every few minutes making it difficult for you to read a blog post or watch a video it’s a great and powerful invention.

MalwareTalking of those annoying ads, promising you will lose 20lbs in one week if you try their funky trip, don’t you ever click on them. Every time you load one of those ads, a small army of spyware loads in the process. Likewise, be very careful when you download a file from an untrustworthy site, otherwise you will end up with malware that hitched a ride along with it.
No browser is bulletproof so, the best thing you can do is harden it’s security against malware by following these tips.


Be careful when you install plug-ins you’re not familiar with

Used with moderation, plug-ins and extensions are usually good for you and your software. Used in excess, they can put your computer at risk. Too many unnecessary plug-ins can slow down your computer while others can have a malicious software attached.


Turn on pop-up blockers

Pop-ups are extremely annoying and, most of the time, they host malware. Once you click on them, your computer gets infected. Luckily, nowadays you harden your browser against malicious pop-ups by installing a pop-up blocker. A pop-up blocker won’t let any site create a window without your authorization, thus making your searching easier and more secure.


Install security plug-ins

Another way you can harden you browser against malware is by installing a security plug-in. So, if a virus tries to sneak in, a security plug-in will immediately block it, enhance your system’s security and prevent your computer from getting infected. Some of the security plug-ins we recommend are: HTTPS Everywhere – for Chrome, Firefox and Opera, Web of Trust – for Internet Explorer and LongURL.org for Twitter and Facebook.


Delete spam messages without opening them

Ever gotten an email from a Nigerian prince urging you send a specific amount of money which would supposedly allow him to access his savings account and reward you, the benefactor, with more money than you ever imagined? As you know, this spam message is a spam, officially known as The Nigerian 419 scam. Other spam messages, on the other hand can load your computer with malware.


Don’t open email attachments unless you know the sender

It’s pretty simple: if you don’t know the sender, don’t open any email attachments and immediately send the message to spam. And even if you know the sender think twice before opening the attachment. Malicious emails are designed to collect personal date and infect your computer. Some viruses don’t even require users to forward the email; they scan the computer and automatically send the infected message to all of the addresses they find.
Be careful with email attachments even when they appear to be from someone in authority, like your bank. It’s usually a phishing scam, tricking you into revealing your password or other personal information.


Install a strong antivirus program

Last, but not least, don’t forget to install a strong antivirus program to protect your computer and your devices.


Why you should set up a VPN

Why you should set up a VPNEven if you’re not using a Virtual Private Network, or VPN, chances are you might have heard of it. Most probably, you associate the technology with corporate firewalls and ways of controlling the work habits of employees and limiting their Internet access. In reality, VPN is a great way to protect your online privacy, regardless of your profile. Whether you are a company who wants to protect its data or a regular computer user who simply wants to connect and browse securely on any network, VPN can be a very helpful tool. But what is a VPN exactly?


What is a VPN?

A Virtual Private Network, or VPN, is a group of computers linked together across a public network. As the name states it, it allows computers to securely share data across a public network as if it was a private one. In other words, VNP allows your computer to create a secure connection to another network and to encrypt its traffic and data. Moreover, since all of the computers are linked together on the same network, they communicate as if they were connected to the same router.


Why do you need VPN?

Besides the benefit of sharing files on a secure network, away from prying eyes, there are many other reasons why you should install a VPN. For starters, connecting to a public network, like your favorite coffee house’s Wi-FI, can be dangerous, especially if you are planning to make some online payments. Without a VPN to encrypt your Internet traffic, hackers have more chances to prowl on your browsing and capture your passwords. Second, you can be sure your private resources are and will be accessed for an uncompromising network.


How to set up a simple VPN with Windows without installing any software

Both Windows 7 and Windows 8 can function as VPN servers. The trick is that the option is hidden. Here is how you can set up a simple VPN without installing any software.
1. Press the Window key and write ncpa.cpl in the search box to open the Network Connections window;
2. Press the Alt key then click on the File Menu. From there, select New Incoming Connection;
3. Now you should see the computer’s usernames appearing. Select the ones you want to give VPN access to. For a more safe connection, you can create a new user account. Click Add someone and choose the users you will allow access to the new user account;
4. Make sure to check the Through the Internet option to allow VPN connections over the Internet. Then click Next;
5. Confirm that you will use the Internet Protocol [select the Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4)] to make this connection and click the Allow access button;
6. Windows will set up a VPN server.


Router Set up

You will also need to set up your router for the VPN. You will need the IP address of your VPN Server computer to configure it. To find it, right click on the network icon from the menu bar then click on Open Network and Sharing Center. Click on the network icon. A window will pop up and now you should click on Details to find the server’s IP address. Write it down.
Now that you have the LAN IP address, long onto router’s configuration page and look for Port Forwarding screen. Forward port 1723 to the IP address.

To connect to the VPN server, click on the Connect to the network option then on the VPN name you’ve created. Then click Connect.