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2012 in Security: Rising Danger

Eric Geier | Oct. 21, 2011
Computer security involves more than installing an antivirus utility on your PC. Malicious hackers are on a mission to steal money and wreak havoc, and they'll do it by any means possible. The growing number of mobile devices, such as phones and tablets, and the popularity of social networks give them new avenues in which to expand their cybercrime.

Social Networking

In 2011, social networks, particularly Facebook, also suffered from an increase in threats. Through tainted websites and apps, attackers hacked accounts and distributed malware, phishing come-ons, and other scams to Facebook users. The danger spread via wall posts, links, photo tags, comments, and scripting flaws. And considering that Facebook boasts more than 800 million active users, you can expect an increase in threats and scams in 2012.

Don't click suspicious links posted on social networks, even if they seem to have come from a friend; rigged sites and apps can post and send messages without a user's consent. Additionally, be careful not to allow malicious apps on Facebook--check out the apps you have already approved, and remove those that you don't use, or that look dubious.

Traditional PCs and Macs

Mobile malware might be the hot trend, but threats still thrive on the PC, too. As in past years, malware will flourish on PCs in 2012, so install antivirus software and keep it up-to-date. If you need to cut expenses, try a free option such as Avast Free Antivirus or Microsoft Security Essentials; either will provide adequate protection.

Recently, attackers have been exploiting vulnerabilities in Adobe, Java, and Microsoft programs, so don't ignore up­­dates for your applications. Also, confirm that Windows Update is enabled, and consider setting it to automatically download and install key bug fixes.

In the past, Mac users didn't have to worry much about malware, but the situation is changing. This year Apple saw more infections on Mac OS X, such as a fake antivirus program called MAC Defender that caused pop-ups and tried to charge the victim to get rid of them. Expect more malware on Macs as Apple gains market share and becomes a bigger target. Though the infection rate will still be extremely low compared with that of Windows, to be safe you might want to install a utility such as the free iAnti­Virus from PCTools.


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