Saturday, December 18th, 2010 | security, technology
We hear horror stories about hackers who can gain control of your computer, which allows them to use it for criminal activities – even accessing your bank account and draining it. Can his happen? It is unlikely but it is possible, and you can do much to avoid it taking place.
A program called spyware is put on your computer to gather information about you without your knowledge or consent – this information is then relayed to unauthorised people.
Spyware could affect you in various ways. It could:
- secretly monitor your internet surfing habits and record the sites you visit
- collect all sorts of personal information about you, such as passwords
- interfere with your control of your computer settings
- install additional software
- redirect web accesses
- detect credit card details when you do internet shopping.
You will know that your computer is infected with spyware when it acts in a strange way – look out for these tell-tale signs:
- pop-up advertisements appear even when you are not using the internet
- the page your browser first opens to changes by itself and you find it difficult to change it back to what it was
- a new toolbar appears in your browser and you can’t get rid of it
- your computer becomes sluggish
- your computer unexpectedly freezes.
When you surf the internet and click on options of pop-up windows, spyware may be secretly loaded onto your computer. It may also be installed on your machine when you download material such as music or video files.
Protect your technology by using anti-spyware, which should be a part of anti-virus software. Of course, the best form of protection is to avoid downloading spyware programmes. Remember a few basic rules:
Only download programs from web sites you trust; be wary of free music and movie file-sharing programmes.
Read all security warnings, license agreements, and privacy statements associated with any software you download. Buried in a licence agreement may be a disclaimer saying that information about you will be passed on to another party.
Never click “agree” or “OK” to close a window. Instead, click the red “x” in the corner of the window to close it.
For more technology tips for teachers click here.