In today’s computer world, viruses and/or infections are running rampant. There is a movie coming out next month called “Zero Days”. This is a story that is based on some true events in that a few years back the US Government had a virus written (Yes WRITTEN!) called Stuxnet. This virus had one goal, to bring down the nuclear centrifuge in Iran. As the story goes, we wrote it, and we distributed it. Ahhh but the best laid plans of mice and men right? The virus was intercepted, and rewritten. And guess where it ended up? Back on US Government computers…..
So then we (The US Government) had to spend a TON of money to eradicate the virus…..the virus WE WROTE……off of the systems that were infected by it.
The question then becomes “Can anybody get a virus”? As you’ll see when you watch the movie…..yes, yes, absolutely, YES! And then “how does a virus infect a computer”? Most of the time, it comes in the form of an email attachment. It might have a familiar subject name, or be sent by someone that ‘APPEARS’ to be a friend. You click on it and BANG, now not only are you infected, but others in your Contacts list are now subject to it as well.
Additionally, there is a place on the Internet called “The Dark Web”. If you’ve ever heard of a place called “The Silk Road” then you already know about this. But most however, do not. Believe it or not, only 4% of the Internet, is used by normal people like you and me – IE Students, Workers, etc. The dark web takes up all the rest and can only be accessed using a special set of tools. The Dark Web is a place that you can purchase pretty much anything. You can even have illegal substances delivered right to your Post Office Box. Of course, we don’t condone ANY of this activity but we want to provide you with information that will help protect you. The more you know, the better you can defend.
The reason I bring this up is that there are places/people on ‘The Dark Web’ that will actually PAY you for the email addresses of your friends or customers or whoever. And from what I’ve heard…..they will pay you well. They will take these addresses and then send an email that appears to be From You. But that email will contain a virus that will allow them to take over your computer and use it for illegal activity. They can use your computer as what’s called a “BOT” or a “Bot Net” and it allows them to use your system to bound information off of it. It’s like in the movies when they show a picture of a phone call the authorities are trying to trace and it goes from the US to England to Russia to Nigeria, etc. And each time your computer is used as a bounce point, it slows your systems down. Think about that for a second. And all of this goes on with you EVER knowing about it.
Why would I bring this up? What are they after? Money? Bank info? Credit Card info? Well yes and no. Believe it or not hackers are after one thing……”FAME”. They want to be known in their circles as “The guy who broke into that place”, or “The guy that brought down THAT network”. And once they obtain that fame, their goals are reached. Make no mistake, they are also after Bank Account info, and/or Login names and passwords but their true goal is to be known as “THAT GUY”….
Hackers also want to be able to cause havoc too. We get more phone calls from people who are infected, than any other single problem.
We get asked all the time “are all viruses trying to get in the same way….do the same thing?” In today’s world, the most prevalent virus is known as ‘Ransomware’. When you get infected with a Ransomware virus, the virus will “encrypt” all the data on the PC (Pictures, documents, etc.) and will typically give the end user 3 days to pay them money using a non traceable form of cash called “Bitcoin” and then, and ONLY then they will usually provide the decryption key and allow access to the files again. Notice I said “usually”. Sometimes they will request more money. And where does that money go? To them to hire more people…..to write STRONGER viruses…..so they can attack more and more people. And make no mistake…..if you don’t pay them…..they will NOT allow you access to your data ever again.
It used to be that viruses were mainly obtained via email but in today’s world, Malware also carries these very powerful infections. Malware has one design. To cause you trouble. Even the name Malware comes from the term “MALicious” It slows your system down, and will generate Pop Up windows that will have you pulling your hair out in no time.
Here’s the sad part. Roughly 83% of all computers in the world today, have some level of infection on it now. And most are simply not aware of it.
How do you prevent this from occurring? Have a good IT company that is reliable and trustworthy. Pick a company that has a good history with their customers. They can provide you with a Crisis Management solution so that when this does happen, you will have a way to get your data back without playing games with these Internet Thieves. You want to find a company that will not only provide you with a good Anti-Virus software, but also run periodic scans on your systems, provide you with reports of your strengths and weaknesses, and work with you to have a failover plan. Believe it or not the cost of this can be fairly inexpensive. For instance, our company offers an All Inclusive plan that if anything goes wrong on your system, we will fix it at no charge. We monitor, manage, maintain, and verify that your system is running lean and mean and we do it on a regular basis.
Do your homework and stay vigilant by not opening ANYTHING that looks even remotely questionable. And work with a reputable IT firm to help ensure your stability.
It will make your life easier in the long run.