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Computer Security Software - Vulnerabilities, the Enemy Within

Why Desktop Vulnerability Assessment is Your Best Weapon in the Coming War Against Botnets

Cyber-criminals would have to find another job, could they not rely on two big "friends". Human nature, with its traits of trusting, credulousness, negligence and curiosity is certainly  the most powerful leverage in any hacker's arsenal. Even in a world of perfect technology, crackers will use human weaknesses  to open otherwise secure doors. Technology is not perfect though and technical "flaws" in software, computers and telecommunication systems offer plenty of opportunities to be exploited. Those technical flaws are what we call "vulnerabilities".

Vulnerabilities in the entire World Wide Web are exploited all the time to obtain control of computers and entire networks and gain access to confidential data. Those vulnerabilities can be found everywhere, but particularly in Internet browsers and their plug-ins; in Web servers and application software; and even in core devices of the underlying network infrastructure of the Web.

Unfortunately, the list doesn't stop there. Major flaws can be found and exploited in many other areas, like office programs (e.g. the ubiquitous Microsoft Word, Excel and Outlook), all operating systems, mobile devices platforms and applications, networking equipment, to mention but a few. Fortunately, more and more desktop software vendors are now disclosing vulnerabilities as they are discovered, at the same time as releasing so-called security "patches", i.e. software rewritten to include a "fix" to the problem. From a user's point of view, staying up-to-date on patches has become essential. And so have the tools to carry out a thorough "vulnerability assessment".

You can't fix a problem, if you don't know you have one! But equally important is to have a sure fire "solution" to fix it quickly and easily. Some of the top antiviruses and Internet security suites integrate a "vulnerabilities scanner", which shows a list of operating system and installed applications, for which a "patch" has been released.

If it sounds like a race between you, trying to shut doors, and criminals, trying to get through them, it's because that is exactly what it is! You might get tired of trying to find and install updates one by one and fall behind in keeping your desktop computer up to date. The longer standing the vulnerabilities, the higher the probability to come across some malicious software left on compromised web sites, the easier the way in. And do not assume that you need to run some exotic program to run into problems. Just watching a simple video, using any of the most popular players like Flash, Quick Time or Windows Media Player, might open the door to the code to hook your computer to one of the several botnets active in the Internet underworld.

When choosing your new antivirus, put  this feature right at the top of your must-haves. In our antivirus reviews, we highlight this feature in the "pros" when available in a product. It will make your day by day maintenance a breeze and your computer a much tougher nut to crack!