NORMAN — Back in “the old days” (for me, the early 1990s) when the Internet started becoming popular, most folks didn’t much care about things like computer viruses, email scams, online criminals or the Russian Mafia. Sure, there were problems here and there but, for the most part, we just merrily surfed away and had a good time.
The Internet has changed dramatically in the past 20 years. At least 90 percent of all email worldwide is spam. Over 60 percent of the “traffic” on the World Wide Web is “nonhuman,” generated, not by real people, but by “bots,” computer programs designed to travel all around the Internet and perform automated tasks, such as searching for email addresses to spam, copy website information, hack websites, steal credit card data, spread false advertising and other shady deeds. Those who ignore the rules of Internet safety are destined for disaster.
Over the years, products like firewalls, updates and antivirus programs, combined with a cautious attitude, have been the main tools of defense. Unfortunately, the Internet bad guys have become wise to the ways of these defenses, rendering them obsolete as stand-alone, “complete” security solutions. Antivirus programs can only be considered as one layer in your multilayered Internet safety strategy.
Some of the more modern and effective computer protection products examine what a computer is doing, and if it is doing it in the normal, expected way. Rather than depending solely on lists of known viruses and malware problems, these products look at how the computer is actually behaving. If abnormal behavior is detected, such as programs trying to modify themselves in odd ways, malicious Internet addresses being visited surreptitiously, or mysterious packets of information secretly flowing in and out of a computer, advanced computer protection products flag this aberrant behavior and force it to stop.