All entries for Sunday 17 October 2004

October 17, 2004

Money–related threats

Phishing is the use of hoax emails claiming to be from financial institutions to obtain peoples' bank or credit card details. A phishing email might claim to be from your bank, asking you to confirm your details. If you were to release your details in this way, your money could be stolen.

You will never be asked by a legitimate organisation to confirm your details by email. Never reply to phishing emails.

Dialers are malicious programs which can connect to premium rate phone lines without your knowledge whilst you are connected to the internet. You may only realise that you had a dialer program on your computer when you get the phone bill! Some dialers can detect when a user has been away from the computer for a while by monitoring mouse and keyboard activities, and will wait until they think they can change the connection without being noticed. Dialers are removed by anti-virus programs such as Norton Antivirus.

Backing up

Backing up your files has got to be the most important protection you can have. You should frequently copy your files onto removable media such as writable CDs and DVDs, flash drives and memory cards, or even floppy disks (unreliable but better than nothing). If your computer were to suffer from failure of hardware (for example your hard disk) or the effects of a malicious program, a recent backup of all your important files could save you hours of work!

You could have a series of say five writable media (such as CD-Rs) for backing up your most important files as you work on them. The media would be numbered 1 to 5, and each time a backup was made the next medium would be used. This system has certain advantages:

  • If you are using rewritable media, you can overwrite the oldest backups and still have several recent ones.
  • The media that you are backing up to will suffer less wear than a single medium would when used frequently.
  • Even backups can fail (for example a CD-R with a label-side scratch, or a corrupted floppy disk) but with frequent backing up with this system you would be pretty much guaranteed a working recent copy of your work.

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