Notebooks bring tremendous convenience to personal computing. Just sit within range of a wireless hotspot and connect to your office or home network, access your email and complete important work projects. However, roaming from one non-insecure wireless network to another can leave your computer vulnerable to malicious software attacks.
Spyware and viruses
If you’re connected to a wireless network without your own firewall, hackers can easily intercept the signals you send and receive over the air. Attackers can also install spyware and viruses on your computer.
Spyware refers to an application designed to track a computer user’s Internet activity, keep a note of the websites visited, and collect other information. The term “spyware” may also refer to non-viral malicious software, including software that takes care of your Internet connection, unwanted advertisements appear, or even blocks your Internet connection. A tracking program is technically labeled only as spyware if the computer user does not agree to the download or installation.
Spyware collects information and sends it back to the spyware controller. The owner of the spyware program usually sells information collected to marketers. For example, spyware can obtain email information from a computer user by using that information to bombard the user with ads and spam. Spyware is also known as “malware” because it can be used to help identity theft and fraudulent activities (some spyware programs my credit card information and other sensitive financial information). Keylogging programs, used to steal credit card information and passwords by monitoring everything a user types, are under the spyware/malware umbrella.
Viruses are a different type of malicious software. A virus is code that connects to a program, a file, or its boot sector. These malicious programs are called viruses because they function as a viral infection – they spread to other files, programs and even computers, and they are explicitly designed to damage your files and destroy your applications.
Protect your notebook from spyware and viruses
Protecting your notebook from spyware and viruses protects you from fraud and also protects your privacy.
Firefox will always inform you about every download or installation, inform you about suspicious websites, and automatically update your browser to continuously improve security.
You should not fail to install antivirus software, either. If you have an antivirus program that you already use, stick with it, but the free home edition of Avast and the open source antivirus product ClamWin are two great options. Be sure to keep your security software up to date (most programs will update automatically, but sometimes they will ask your permission) to give yourself the best protection against malicious software.