October 2011, Issue 22

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Build Up Your Malware Defences

James Zhou

Install anti-virus and anti-spyware programs from a trusted source

  • Never download anything in response to the following scenarios:
    - A warning from a program which you did not install.
    - A software which claims to protect your PC or offers to remove viruses.
  • Get reputable anti-malware programs only from a trusted source such as the Centre for IT Services (CITS).
    - CITS is providing free download of Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security Anti-Virus to all students' PCs and staff's home PCs.
    - Download and install  the program from: https://citsdownload.ntu.edu.sg/restricted/index.htm

Update your software/program regularly

Cybercriminals are endlessly inventive in their efforts to exploit vulnerabilities in any software, and many software companies work tirelessly to combat these security threats. Therefore you should:

  • Install regular updates for software such as anti-virus and anti-spyware programs, browsers (like Windows Internet Explorer), operating systems (like Windows), word processing and other programs.
  • Subscribe to automatic software updates whenever they are available. For example, you can set your personal computer to automatically update all Microsoft software security patches (Windows Control Panel > Windows Update > Change settings).
  • Uninstall software that you do not use. You can remove it using Windows Control Panel > Programs and Features.

Use strong passwords and keep them secret

  • Strong passwords are at least 12 characters long and include a combination of letters, numbers and symbols.
  • Do not share passwords with anyone.
  • Do not use the same password for all purposes. If it is stolen, all the information that it protects will be at risk.

Never turn off your PC firewall

  • A PC firewall puts a protective barrier between your computer and the Internet. Turning it off for even a minute increases the risk that your PC will be infected with malware.

Use thumb drives cautiously

To minimise the chance of infecting your computer with malware:

  • Do not insert an unknown thumb (or flash) drive into your PC.
  • Hold down the SHIFT key when you insert the thumb drive into your computer. If you forgot to do this, close any thumb drive-related pop-up window by clicking on the cross at the upper-right corner of the pop-up window.
  • Do not open files on your thumb drive that you do not recognise.