Understanding Security Terms
Understanding Security Terms
There are a lot of security terms out there and it can be hard to know which is which and what they all mean. Use this list of FAQs to learn more about the scams and viruses you may run into and how you can protect your computer.
Select a heading below to reveal more FAQs and expand to read more.
Security Terms: Defined
What is WEP Encryption?
WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) encryption is a security method that allows you to protect the data that is sent and received over the wireless connection between your modem router and computers. Encryption changes your data so that it is unreadable if “pulled out of the air” by a user who does not know the encryption key. However, when the authorized modem router or adapter receives data, it uses the encryption key to turn it back into readable data. Any other users attempting to connect to your network must know the encryption key to gain access to your network in the same way that you need a specific key to unlock the door to your house.
Most modem routers allow you to identify a WEP encryption key for your modem router to use. In some cases, you will be asked to specify a pass phrase that automatically generates the encryption key, a long string of letters and numbers. You then need to use this encryption key or pass phrase whenever you set up a wireless adapter to connect a computer wirelessly to your network. Other manufacturers preset a WEP encryption key for each modem router and specify this key on the modem itself. In the same way, you will need to use this encryption key when setting up your wireless adapters.
We recommend writing down your selected pass phrase or encryption key and keeping it in a safe place in case you want to add additional computers or adapters to your home network at a later time. AOL recommends you choose a pass phrase that contains 13 characters for 128-bit WEP encryption. This means you will still be able to connect your wireless adapters to your modem router, even if you use products from different manufacturers.
You may be asked to select the size of the encryption keys you wish to use: 64-bit or 128-bit. The larger the key, the more complex the encryption. Therefore, AOL recommends using 128-bit encryption.
Some routers also allow you set up an alternative type of encryption called WPA. However, not all of the adapters currently available support this type of encryption. AOL recommends that you use WEP encryption unless you are confident that all of your hardware supports WPA encryption.
What is a virus?
A virus is a program that causes damage to your computer either by deleting or corrupting files. A virus can also interfere with computer operations by multiplying itself to fill up disk space or random access memory space, secretly “infecting” your computer.
What is a worm?
A worm is a type of virus that spreads through your computer by creating duplicates of itself on other drives, systems and networks. One feature that makes worms so dangerous is that they can send copies of themselves to other computers across a network via email, an infected webpage, instant messages and Internet Relay Chat. One way to recognize a worm is if it has an "@m” or “@mm" designation, which signifies that the file’s primary distribution method is through email.
How can spyware affect me?
Spyware can harm your computer in several ways. It can secretly install software on your computer, change your browser homepage, reset your bookmarks and change your desktop wallpaper. But most importantly, spyware can invade your privacy by gathering your personal information and distributing it to others, making you susceptible to scams, identity theft and fraud. With spyware, strangers could use your credit card numbers and access your banking information, as well as your passwords and personal emails.
What is the difference between worms and Trojan horses?
A virus is a program that’s capable of continually replicating with little or no user intervention. There’s typically a piece of code that causes an unexpected and usually malicious event (or “payload”) to occur. Viruses are often disguised as games or images with clever, inviting titles such as "Pictures of ME".
A worm is a virus that spreads by creating duplicates of itself on other drives, systems or networks. Worms may send copies of themselves to other computers across network connections, through email, through an infected Web page or through instant messages and Internet Relay Chat (IRC). Some worms are differentiated as being "@m" or "@mm", which signifies that their primary distribution method is through electronic mail or mass-mail.
A Trojan horse is a program that either pretends to have, or is described as having, a set of useful or desirable features but actually contains a damaging payload. True Trojan horses are not technically viruses, since they do not replicate; however, many viruses and worms use Trojan horse tactics to initially infiltrate a system. Although Trojans are not technically viruses, they can be just as destructive. Many people use the term "Trojan" to refer only to non-replicating malicious programs, thus making a distinction between Trojans and viruses.
What is a virus hoax?
There are a lot of viruses out there; however, some aren't really out there at all. Virus hoaxes are more than mere annoyances. They may lead some users to routinely ignore all virus warning messages, leaving them vulnerable to a genuine, destructive virus. Next time you receive an urgent virus warning message be sure to check the list of known virus hoaxes. A common hoax is the Jdbgmgr.exe hoax. It describes an otherwise legitimate system file as being a virus that is not detected by McAfee or Norton. It hibernates in your computer system for 14 days before blowing your computer to smithereens. The file is displayed with a teddy bear icon, as shown below, and is often convincing as a result.
Remember to never open an email attachment unless you know what it is -- even if it's from someone you know and trust.
Common Hoax email Phrases:
What is spyware?
One of many Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs) is malicious software — also called malware — that downloads itself onto your computer through programs you download, emails you open or websites you visit. While spyware is not as damaging to a PC as a virus, it slows down your computer and tries to gather your personal information.
What are bots?
Bots are software applications that run automated tasks over the internet. There are several kinds of bots that can be used for helpful as well as destructive purposes. Scammers and hackers use spybots to grab website and email content to reuse without your permission. Internet bots can also be used to commit fraudulent activities, especially on computer gaming websites. Bots will take the form of viruses and worms, which can severely damage your computer and the information stored on it. To download anti-bot software, visit AOL Internet Security Central.
What is an IP Address?
An Internet Protocol address (IP address) is a unique number that is used to identify and communicate on a network utilizing the Internet Protocol standard.
If you need the IP address assigned to your computer by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or by a Network service, please contact your ISP or Network Administrator.
What is anti-spyware?
If you’re constantly bombarded by pop-ups or you’ve noticed your computer suddenly seems slower and bogged down, you might need to download anti-spyware software.
Spyware not only can do serious harm to your computer, but can also invade your privacy. Spyware can steal your information by recording your key strokes when you enter your credit card number on Amazon.com, or by observing your computer screen during online banking. The worst case scenarios can lead to fraud and even identity theft.
Anti-spyware software protects your computer by identifying and removing spyware before it can do any damage. We recommend you follow the link to download AOL’s McAfee Internet Security Suite – Special Edition. Click Find Out More on the section of the McAfee box that best describes your relationship with AOL (paid member, free member or non-member) and then follow the on-screen instructions.
There are several other anti-spyware programs out there, too, including Ad-Aware SE Personal Edition and Spybot – Search & Destroy. These programs are not currently offered through AOL.
What is a Pup?
A Potentially Unwanted Program (PUP) is a piece of software that is usually created by a legitimate corporation for some sort of beneficial purpose. (Though, to whom it’s beneficial may be debatable.) So what’s the problem? PUPs can sometimes tamper with the security state of your computer if installed.
PUPs are broken down into six major categories including an “Other” category. Most PUPs behave similarly to Trojan horses; while, in some cases, the software isn’t designed to do any harm, it can easily be misused for more corruptive purposes.
The Six PUPs
What about computer hardware issues?
Not All Computer Problems Are Virus Related. Nowadays, it’s easy to blame any computer problem on a virus. Listed below is a list of common problems NOT caused by a virus or other malicious code:
Does my computer have any antivirus software?
Unsure if you have antivirus software? That’s a pretty easy fix. Choose from one of the strategies below to determine if you have antivirus software:
Search among the taskbar icons
On the Windows taskbar, hold your mouse over each icon next to the clock. The name of the program represented by the icon will appear. Read the name to determine whether the icon represents antivirus software.
Search in Programs menu
Search in Add/Remove Programs
Search in Windows Task Manager
AOL System Information 2.0
What to do if your computer has a virus
How could my computer get infected?
The most common ways your computer can get infected with spyware or other malware are by:
How can I tell if my computer is infected by spyware?
The tell-tale signs that your computer is infected with spyware or other malware are:
What do I do if my computer has a virus?
If your computer is infected with a computer virus, use antivirus software to detect and remove the malware.
If you don’t have antivirus software but you’re still able to connect to the internet, visit AOL Internet Security Central for information about computer safety, viruses and antivirus software.
If the virus is preventing you from getting online, contact your PC vendor to send you the necessary antivirus software.
How do I prevent spyware from infecting my computer?
Which spyware protection software should I install?
We recommend AOL’s own McAfee Internet Security Suite – Special Edition as well as Ad-Aware SE Personal Edition or Spybot – Search & Destroy.
What is a firewall?
A firewall helps safeguard your computer or home network against unwanted, outside access. Properly configured firewalls can help protect your computer from hackers, worms, viruses, Trojan horses and other security attacks. These malicious programs may also use your computer to attack other computers. A firewall acts as a wall to block these programs and hackers from accessing your computer or home network. This is important for both dial-up and high-speed users since all computers connected to the internet are at risk of becoming a hacker’s target, especially if they do not have a firewall.
Hackers or malicious programs may try to access your computer or home network for a number of reasons, such as gathering personal or confidential information about you, accessing your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or copying private documents stored on your computer. Some hackers are simply looking for the challenge. It is important to keep any firewall software up to date since the methods used for bypassing firewalls change constantly.
Like any security system, no firewall is fail-safe, but when used in conjunction with other security measures such as antivirus software and good safety habits, a firewall provides enhanced protection every internet user should have. It’s important to remember that antivirus software is not a substitute for a firewall. Check out AOL Internet Security Central for more information about online safety and spotting scams/schemes.
Good online safety habits include:
How do firewalls work?
Most firewalls offer different levels of security that control the flow of traffic from the internet to your computer. For example, a firewall can allow all traffic, allow only the traffic that you designate as trusted or block all traffic to your office or home network. The firewall does this by monitoring the programs on your computer that access the internet. Your preferences designate the security level of your firewall.
What are the different types of firewalls?
Firewalls come in a variety of forms and provide varying levels of customization, features and updates. They may vary from hardware devices such as routers to software programs that you load onto your PC, or may even be bundled with your computer's operating system. These firewalls range in price and may be free downloads, one-time purchases or subscription services. Some common firewall options are:
How do I choose a firewall?
If you are setting up a home network, you should purchase a router or gateway that has a firewall as a standard feature. Some people with a router-based firewall also prefer the added security of a software firewall for each of their connected computers. If you don’t have a home network or a router with built-in firewall protection, AOL offers the McAfee Internet Security Suite.
How do I use firewalls with game consoles?
PS2 users may experience problems connecting their game console behind a firewall. The easiest way to avoid a firewall conflict is to connect your game console's network adapter directly via Ethernet to your cable or DSL modem.
Note:You may still experience problems in connecting to specific game servers or hosting online games.
Programs that request internet access
Why do programs request internet access?
A program (for example, explorer.exe, rundll.exe, or svchost.exe) might be called by another program to communicate with the internet. Some of the other reasons why a program might request internet access is to:
Why do programs request server access?
A program might request server access if it expects to receive anonymous connections from the internet. Examples of this include some online games, messenger applications and file-sharing applications. You should only allow an application server access if you recognize and trust the application and if you want it to be able to receive anonymous connections.
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|Last updated: 08-22-2014|
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