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What Does Brittany Murphy Have To Do With Your Computer’s Security?

Every year hackers get smarter and sneakier about how to infiltrate people’s computers, steal vital personal information, and spread mischief. A few years ago, all you had to worry about was malware spread by e-mail attachments. These days, you have to worry about mysterious links showing up in your instant messages, weird messages from Facebook friends you’ve never heard of, and malicious web sites downloading who knows what to your computer as soon as you visit them.

So what’s a safe Web surfer to do, short of unplugging the computer and conducting all correspondence by carrier pigeon?

1. Stay vigilant, no matter what application you’re using. Hackers are hip to new media and won’t hesitate to use Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, or instant messaging to get to you. If you wouldn’t click on a strange link in email, don’t click on it in Facebook.

2. Expect spam and phishing to spike around holidays or major events. If a celebrity just died (here’s the Brittany Murphy connection)  and you get an email containing an attachment purporting to be video of that celebrity’s death – don’t open it.

3. Read your email with a VERY skeptical eye. One of our clients was recently contacted by a service that said it was investigating another company’s registration of a domain under our client’s company name. They were pretty obviously just phishing for information about our client. That email went straight in the trash, no response.

4. Know how to spot a zombie. If your computer sounds like it’s running all the time but processing has slowed to a crawl, or if you find returned messages in your inbox responding to emails you’ve never sent – your computer might very well be part of a bot net.

5. Be wary of warnings. Right around this time last year, a nasty spyware application — the AntiSpyware XP 2009 Virus – spread by throwing up bogus popups warning people that they could be infected by hundreds of viruses if they didn’t install an update. People who clicked “OK” to install the update instead installed the spyware.

So as the holiday season rolls around, remember – you’ll probably get a few Christmas-related spam messages, an invitation to view a stranger’s holiday photos on Facebook, a suspicious inquiry from an overseas firm, and a maybe even a popup or two asking you if you want to install the latest and greatest in antispyware protection. The best thing you can do is ignore all of this, run another backup of your files, do a full system scan, and update your antivirus/antispyware protection with the latest definitions.

CMIT’s Marathon service automatically runs system scans and security updates, so you never have to worry about being up to date. To learn more about CMIT Marathon visit our website.

Not sure if an email’s for real? Wondering what to do about a persistent virus warning? Call CMIT Solutions at (800) 399-2648. We’ll give you our professional opinion.


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