Play it Smart: Safe Hex

Botnets are businesses that bring tens of billions dollars in revenue per year. It is not hard to imagine that these threats don

Surfing the webwas supposed to be a pleasant occupation, regardless of the fact that you aresimply socializing with friends, watching multimedia content during yourleisure hours or researching for a truly important project. However, theInternet has become a dangerous place, and strolling along the digital superhighwayis extremely harmful if you are not protected. Surfing the web withoutspecialized antimalware utilities is like jumping in the middle of a junctionduring the rush-hour. If you get out alive, it’s pure luck, and chances arethat the second attempt would end up badly.

Here are some tipsthat will let you focus on doing your job or having fun rather than keeping aneye on the internet connection to see if you haven’t been recruited by thebotnet already.

Install, update and run anti-virus software. This is the top commandment if you are willing to stay out oftrouble. Antivirus software will contribute to the computer’s safety byblocking and removing the malicious code detected in the bots before they areeven installed onto the system. Keeping the signature database up to date isextremely important, as many bots are updated up to 30 times a day in order toavoid antivirus scanners. A good antivirus program would offer the userproactive protection, intelligent scanners with minimal resource consumption,as well as multiple signature updates a day (In order to keep its users safe,Bitdefender issues hourly updates for the latest viruses. This way, PC userscan be sure that they are protected against the newest security threats, right afterthey have been discovered).

Always update your operating system and the bundledsoftware. Most Trojans rely on miscellaneous vulnerabilities in the operating system,browser or plugins. Unpatched software can present security risks, and if thereis a vulnerability, it will be ultimately discovered and exploited by remoteattackers.

Try using other software than the default utilitiespre-installed with the OS. Hackers can easilyidentify your operating system by merely sending you to a webpage, in order tocollect statistics about your system. Many websites gather information aboutusers’ operating system, screen resolution, browser and so on, information thatis usually available to the public. If you are running Windows, hackers can assumethat your browser is Internet Explorer and the e-mail client is OutlookExpress, as they come bundled with the OS . You might want to choose differentprograms in order to stay away from exploits. For instance, you could useMozilla Firefox as a default browser, as well as Mozilla Thunderbird as defaulte-mail client (These are only basic examples. You could also use other browsersand e-mail clients than specified here, as long as you stay away from thedefault options).

Be reasonably paranoid. Don’ttake everything you read for granted. Stay away from unsolicited and unexpectede-mail message, especially those containing attachments or coming from unknownsources (Bitdefender comes with antispam and antiphishing modules thatautomatically sort fake / spam messages

About the author


Bogdan Botezatu is living his second childhood at Bitdefender as senior e-threat analyst. When he is not documenting sophisticated strains of malware or writing removal tools, he teaches extreme sports such as surfing the web without protection or rodeo with wild Trojan horses. He believes that most things in life can be beat with strong heuristics and that antimalware research is like working for a secret agency: you need to stay focused at all times, but you get all the glory when you catch the bad guys.