There are now more malware-based fraud attacks on the web every month than phishing attacks. That makes malware the number one online identity theft risk so far in 2007, with the number of malware attacks growing by an alarming 200 percent in the first two months of 2007 alone.
Simply, malware is software designed to infect or damage a computer system, usually appearing without the owner’s knowledge. Originally malware was created just to wreak havoc on computer systems; today, it’s a fraudster’s tool of choice for illegal financial gain at the expense of unsuspecting consumers. In fact, more than a million web pages are out there today that contain malware content that can be all too easily downloaded right to your PC.
There are many variations and terms associated with malware – Trojans, screen scrapers, Bot programs to name just a few. But the result is all the same – your most valuable personal information can land on a master server in the hands of criminals.
According to Cyveillance, (www.cyveillance.com), the world leader in cyber intelligence, a layered approach to online security is most effective. Here are the most important steps to take right away.
First, make sure your security software is always up to date. There are hundreds, sometimes thousands of new security threats detected each day. Your security software may not detect these threats if it does not have the latest updates provided by the manufacturer.
Second, inquire with your ISP about what type of malware detection and protection they provide. Some ISPs invest significantly in security applications to help protect their users from online threats. These ISPs can provide protection or augment your existing protection, further limiting your exposure to a malware infection
Third, use caution when visiting Web sites. Never click on links in emails or instant messages. Instead, type the address of the Web site you wish to access directly into your browser’s address bar. Also, be wary of Web sites that you’re not familiar with – sometimes these sites contain content such as pornography, gambling, or hacking. The likelihood of a malware infection is greater, on average, with these types of sites.
“The good news is there are things you can do to reduce your risk of falling victim to a malware scam,” says Cyveillance’s Cyber Intelligence Director Terry Gudaitis. “While there are no entirely fail-safe methods or technologies to prevent being victimized by malware, users can greatly reduce the risk by practicing a few good online habits.”
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