Friday, May 21st, 2010

AVG (AU/NZ) Pty Ltd continues its series of informative security tips by going back to basics to help educate consumers and business about Internet security and today’s online threats.

The Internet is fast becoming the single defining place to go to for information, communication, financial management, employment and entertainment. Once you get into the habit of going online more and more often, it is easy to become confident that you’ll be alright. Nothing bad has happened to you yet has it? You tell yourself, "I’m careful and I don’t visit weird sites, so why do I need security software?" But it only takes one malicious attack to slip through your carefully constructed personal net and you may suffer the consequences for a long time.

Lloyd Borrett, Marketing Manager at AVG (AU/NZ), says: “What most people don’t fully understand and don’t have the time to research, is the way in which threats can present themselves and how to identify the right solution for their own PC.”

Borrett advises that Internet threats can be broadly categorised into five groups:

1. Malicious software designed by hackers to cause disruption, perhaps by damaging your computer’s operating system or your installed applications, or often, by destroying your important files.

2. Malicious software, web sites or e-mails intended to steal information from your computer; this commonly includes identity information such as login details for your e-mail, social networks, shopping sites or bank accounts. In the end, what the bad guys are after is your money.

3. Malicious software that tries to use your computer, your Internet connection or your e-mail account for the purposes of launching a criminal attack against other people or organisations.

4. Malicious software and spam that tries to show you information you don’t want and haven’t asked for – perhaps by constantly popping adverts on your computer or taking you to Internet sites you never dreamed of visiting.

5. Downloads, auto-downloads and auto-updates – are these essential health care top-ups or hidden menaces? Well, some downloads you will genuinely need and some application updates are essential, but the threat lies in those downloads that are NOT chosen by the PC owner or are brought about unwittingly while a user is simply surfing an infected web site. If a download happens in the background so the user does not see it happening, or if a download contains a rogue malware element then this represents the greatest danger of all, i.e. hidden threats that use stealth to cover their entry into your system and may remain undercover until they are ready to wreak maximum havoc.

“Installation or activation of this malicious software should of course require an action from you, such as double-clicking an attachment to open it and then confirming that you want to execute whatever it contains. However, you are unlikely to open such a program or document if you know that it is malicious, so the criminals who design this software use two main tricks: deception and exploitation,” Borrett explains.

Deception: Malicious software is disguised or hidden within software or files that you believe you want to install or view, thus you are tricked into opening software you didn’t actually want. Similarly you may be directed in an e-mail to visit a site that looks like one you commonly use, such as your online bank, and you are asked to type in your user name and password. Again, deception is being used to take you to an unsafe site in disguise. It is simply there to capture your identity.

Exploitation: Operating systems, Internet browsers and the programs that are used to open attachments, such as office software or document readers, often have software ‘holes’ or ‘bugs’. This vulnerability is also exploited to launch unsafe software without your explicit consent.

So now you know what the threat might look like, do you feel confident that you would always recognise one and avoid it? Perhaps a little investment into some online security software might not be a bad thing after all.

AVG is widely known for the multi award-winning AVG Anti-Virus Free product used by millions of Australian home users to combat computer viruses, spyware, malware and online threats, as well as AVG LinkScanner® safe search and surf protection. You can download them from

“Today there’s just no excuse not to have at least a basic level of protection in place since it literally costs nothing,” says Borrett. “We also have paid consumer products, like AVG Internet Security 9.0, designed to deliver extra protection for the things people love to do online, like shopping, banking and gaming; downloading music, photos and videos; chatting with friends; and using Facebook and Twitter.”

AVG’s business solutions include the powerhouse AVG Internet Security Business Edition 9.0 solution for protecting workstations, file and e-mail servers, as used across the world by businesses from 5 to 1000s of networked systems.

The Australian Government web site Stay Smart Online also contains some useful advice for protecting yourself from data theft at You can also sign up for its free Cyber Security Alert Service. 

Think about your security protection for all of our sakes, please, because the more safe foundation points we can all help build, the safer the total breadth of cyberspace will be. AVG (AU/NZ) has a comprehensive range of security tips on its web site at

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