The recent announcement that a virus made its way to the International Space Station shouldn't be surprising, given the resilience of some malware, but it is still amazing how widely some of it spreads. This was not the first virus to make it outside Earth's atmosphere, and it certainly won't be the last, but at least it wasn't something truly dangerous. The virus in question was designed to steal online gaming logon information, though if this one could make it through, it begs the question of how long it will be before something truly destructive goes into space.
Virus Found on Computer in Space Station (Information Week)
Malware is at an all-time high, totaling more blocked in July than in all of 2007 according to SaaS vendor ScanSafe. Every time you turn around, there is another phishing scam, e-mail disguised as a FedEX notification, or outlandish news headline. Of course, all these are simply cover for and ways to entice unsuspecting users into compromising their computers. Even though there are a lot of fantastic (and free) tools to keep your computers malware-free, most people do not take the time or expend the effort to protect themselves.
Malware Rockets Again (VNUNet)
BitDefender Uncovers FedEx(R) Spyware (Marketwatch)
I have long been of the opinion that a well-trained user is unlikely to be infected by most malware, because there are some very simple things you can do to avoid it. Here is my short list:
- Go to the source. If you see an offer that is too good to be true, a headline that is too outlandish to believe, or a warning that sets you on edge, go to a trusted source to confirm the information. If Bill Clinton really did bite the head off of a baby seal or Microsoft is really giving away money or there is a virus that can truly destroy your computer, CNN, Microsoft, Snopes, and Kaspersky are your best friends. Go to their Web sites and find the truth rather than clicking a link.
- No links. Don't click on any links sent to you in an e-mail unless the person who sent it tells you directly. In addition, when you send a link, contact the person you sent it to and let them know that you sent it. When I want my wife to look at a Youtube video, Internet article, or cute picture, I call or text and let her know that I sent something.
- Don't believe them. If someone you don't know is asking you for personal information, assume that they are up to no good. If you are worried that your bank really needs to confirm information, call them. If PayPal needs to communicate with you, e-mail them directly.