Is Your PC Ready for Cyberwar?
WASHINGTON -- The more functions your PC performs, the greater its risk for cyberattack--and the more likely you are to miss it. That's why you need to protect your PC in this warming political climate that includes warnings of online strikes, security experts say.
Any conventional attack could be accompanied by
Users should take care, and become safer by being more skeptical, says Ken Dunham, a senior intelligence analyst with the security consulting firm iDEFENSE. He urges all PC users to assess their risk.
For example, shared broadband connections also open systems to attack, Dunham says. To protect a PC that has high-speed Internet access, a user needs both antivirus software and a firewall, says Mario Correa, director of Internet and Network Security at the Business Software Alliance.
Correa says firewalls--which monitor what goes in and out of a network--are helpful to protect your system while using high-speed Internet access. They can be purchased for about $100.
Sharing and sending files warrants protection from antivirus programs, Dunham and Correa note. But programs must be updated with the latest virus descriptions in order to be efficient. Consumers should sign up to get notified of new threats and check the Web sites of their antivirus software vendors to be sure that they have the latest version.
Consumers don't always realize some cyberattacks can cause computers to shut down or deny access to systems and sites, Dunham notes. The recent
Correa recommends The Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute's
While vulnerabilities in Microsoft programs are often targeted for attack, Dunham says any software has holes and Microsoft's are just more widely targeted. Users are wise to frequently check Microsoft's
Dunham and Correa disagree on how often peer-to-peer sites spread viruses, but agree it will be a large issue.
"It is only a matter of time before [peer-to-peer and instant messaging] become the next big wave in computer security," Correa says.
The Business Software Alliance offers five questions PC users should consider when assessing their security:
Dunham compares computer security to driving a car. Most people don't care enough to understand how it works, and want to just get in and drive. But it pays to do occasional safety checks, he notes. A prime example: Microsoft had released a patch that could stop the