Back when dial-up internet was the fastest connection, we didn't worry about virus attacks, worms or Trojan horses. Today, however, we need protection. The following list describes attack methods that are common today.
Hackers are individuals or programs that attempt to gain access to your system without your permission or your knowledge. Some hackers are automated, searching for details inside your computer in order to improve targeted advertising. Other hackers are individuals searching for private information such as financial account access data.
Viruses are one of the most common methods of computer attack. There are some viruses circulating that are programmed to destroy your computer. These viruses can sometimes corrupt an entire network. Frequently, viruses come attached to an email in the form of an executable file.
Trojan Horses are malicious viruses that attach to your computer using innocent-looking means. Often, you are lured to a Trojan-infected website through a deceptive popup or email advertisement. Another common method to receive a Trojan is through downloading free software. Manufacturers can make money from their "free" software by allowing advertisers to add a Trojan horse. Certainly not all free software is rigged with malicious content, but it's difficult to tell when the software is truly free and when you will pay for it with loss choice or loss of privacy.
One type of Trojan hijacks your homepage and search engine preference in order to lead you to the sender's webpage, which artificially inflates visitor numbers and adds to the hijacker's advertising revenues. Hijackers also hope you'll eventually buy products from their advertisers since you will be stuck looking at their webpages so frequently. A Trojan horse is like a rude taxi driver who takes you where he wants to go instead of where you want to go, then charges you double fare.
Worms are similar to a viruses but they don't attach themselves to a file or a program on their own. Worms reside in your computer's memory and replicate themselves to spread throughout your system or network. They work their way across the Internet by attaching invisible copies to outgoing email. The most common types of worms are called backdoor worms. These worms can be used by hackers to open ports that allow the hacker clear access to the computer or network.
Rootkits go deeper into systems then typical Trojans. They hide in the computer registry. When the Trojan attaches to the system registry, it becomes much harder to detect and remove. Some Rootkits allow a hacker to take control of system devices, even web cams. Rootkits also have the ability to erase log files, allowing the hacker to cloak his actions so that you can't see what he's been up to in your system. If the Rootkit came as a backdoor worm, it will also allow the hacker to access your system again and again.
Hybrids are combinations of different viruses. A hybrid takes on the characteristics of worms and Trojans and harms software applications and computer systems. If you don't remove a hybrid virus from your system properly it will continue to infect your system until you are unable to remove it.
Scanners are tools used by hackers to detect your computer's vulnerability; they are usually attached with worms. The scanner will check your ports looking for an open one to gain access to your system. Firewalls use scanners to detect open ports in order to secure them before they are breached.
Some people assume viruses also come in the form of cookies, but this isn't accurate. But cookies can attack you. Cookies are small packets of data that are created when you visit a website; these are made by the vendor but stored on your computer. Each time you revisit the website the cookie is read by the vendor. Cookies are the vendor's way to store information about you and your previous visits to their website so that they can customize your visit. Cookies can also store your mailing address and credit card information to make online transactions with the vendor one step easier.
Some cookies take this a step further, however, and use the opportunity to store a tidbit of data on your computer to watch your internet surfing habits for marketing purposes since cookies can track online movement. These cookies are called spyware since they watch your actions.
Some malicious cookies, called adware, allow advertisers to target you with ads. Though cookies don't damage your computer, they can compromise your privacy. This is a good reason to consider a firewall program that allows you to monitor and block inbound and outbound cookies.
All these computer attacks are common, but many people don't realize this until after they've become victims themselves. That's why it's important for you to be prepared with a good firewall whenever you browse the Internet.
Advanced firewall programs give you extra protection through cookie control, spyware control, adware control and software application control.
To learn more about the best personal firewalls available, please see our Personal Firewall Software site.