This article was first posted on our blog on 28/01/2011. For this reason, the information may be outdated and no longer reliable/correct.
We’ve all heard about viruses or been hit by one. It’s never a pleasant experience no matter how big or small it is. That being said, what different kinds of viruses are there, and how can we protect our vital information from being stolen?
For several years now, I’ve been a programmer. Be it PHP, C++ or Python, I’ve at least basked in it’s glory; when it comes to malicious code, I’m the expert.
There are several types of virus from which you want to protect yourself, and if you’re a bit lazy like I am, you may want to install an AV (anti-virus) that does the job for you.
A botnet is not a virus that you want to be handling. They infect your PC silently and allow the person who deployed it to control your PC at any given moment. Some can even turn your computer on in the middle of the night across the internet and access your files whilst you’re asleep if you’ve got a WEP/WPA/WPA2 key saved on your local drive. This is common amongst hackers since many of them are actually scared of being caught despite their reputation for bragging.
There are many ways of defending against botnets; one simple way is not to store internet keys locally. That being said, it’s my strong suggestion that you keep a physical copy of your internet key (if applicable) and type it in whenever you turn the PC on.
In addition to this, you may want to install an anti-virus to protect yourself. Please see the links at the bottom of this post.
What damage can a botnet do?
Good question! A botnet is a dangerous virus that allows the user to control your PC, so technically, the botnet doesn’t do any harm at all. It just sits in your C:/ drive and waits to be told what to do. The user himself dictates what it will do which can include copying your files to a remote server, logging your keystrokes, watching what you do, or just playing around on your PC to annoy you!
These are sneaky little buggers that will rob you of everything you have. They bind themselves to files and then are ran by the victim. They generally look like genuine files, such as installers for MSN or Skype, and they collect all of the cookies and passwords stored on your PC and send them to a remote server.
These files are then analyzed by the person who sent out the virus, and your info is then unsafe!
How can I defend myself against these?
Luckily, info stealers are highly detected. Many AVs are updated automatically, and the new viruses are added to their databases, so if you have an anti-virus, you don’t really have any reason to worry.
However, if they crypt the file, there is cause for alarm. This means that the code inside that is detected by the anti-virus is now scrambled and not necessarily detectable. The only real way around this is to run it through Sandboxie. Of course, trusted software such as Microsoft products from official sites is safe, but for anything you might be cautious about, use Sandboxie.
What is Sandboxie?
Sandboxie essentially creates a new drive within your C:/. By doing this, all of your files that contain any information are separate, and safe. If a program contains a virus and it is run within a Sandboxie environment, it can only hunt the files within the Sandboxie “S:/” drive, thus preserving your info!
AVG Free: http://free.avg.com/gb-en/homepage
This antivirus is brilliant if you want a free but effective one. I wouldn’t suggest buying it; there are much more powerful ones for only a fraction more.
Sandboxie (Free!): http://www.sandboxie.com/