When you connect your PC to the Internet, you open up a whole new world of adventure and information for you and your family. Unfortunately, you also open up a new world of potential dangers viruses, spam, computer attacks, and more.
Fortunately, it’s easy to protect your pc and your family from these dangers. All you need to do is to follow some techniques and a lot of common sense! And in fact, the use of common sense would greatly reduce the issues that we face online. By following the tips below and becoming actively engaged in your own security, you’ll not only be protecting yourself, you’ll be contributing to the protection of society and betterment of the Internet as a whole.
- Take the time to practice safe online behavior – be sure to end every online session by logging off your personal accounts when you’re done using them.
- Don’t access personal documents or online bank accounts on public computers.
- Only shop with reputable online companies and be sure to verify web sites for their authenticity before submitting credit card numbers or other personally identifiable information and also try to use one credit card for online purchases. This way, if your information is compromised, you know exactly which card is breached. If you are notified of a breach, get a new card. Although your credit card company might offer monitoring services, you will be safer getting a new card, especially if you only have one credit card.
- Frequently change your passwords and ensure they’re complicated and hard to guess and by including a series of numbers, letters (uppercase, lowercase) and symbols but you can still remember it. Also make sure you use a password that is not intricately connected to information about you, such as your date of birth or your mother’s name, because thieves might be able to track down that information. “Just like you have a ring of keys, you have a key to your house and a key to your car, you need a different key for each site,” If one get your Facebook account, because your email account is your logon, then he / she probably also have your email account and then your email account and then probably can get your bank account and things like that. Many people simply change their passwords if they believe there accounts have been compromised. Make sure you also change the security question that many sites ask in conjunction with a password. Use common sense, if you talk about your current pet on social networks, it might not be best to use its name as the answer to your security questions and don’t send your passwords through email.
- Use caution when clicking! On the internet, there are Rogue AntiVirus websites floating around that pop up and look almost identical to what you see when you go into “My Computer”. It also shows an apparent virus scan and then displays the results, indicating that you’re loaded with viruses. It then asks you to download something. If you know what you’re actually looking at, however, you can determine that this is fake. Also, NEVER download a .exe, .com, .bat, .vbs, .what, .ever unless you’ve specifically set out in search of this file and you’re downloading it from a trusted source. You can add .pdf to this list now, too, as .pdf’s are riddled with bugs.
- Assess your social network “friends” to ensure you’re connected with only people you know and trust and consider creating separate lists or profiles for professional and personal networking. Don’t randomly accept friend requests on social sites. I understand the idea is to be social and meet new people on these sites. However, if one can’t get information from your page anonymously, he/she will simply set up a fake Facebook account and send you a friend request. 9 times out of 10 it will get accepted and he/she will have all of the information that you spent the last 5 minutes trying to secure. Also make sure your social sites aren’t leaking information: As I’ve shown here many times now, social networking provides a wealth of information to someone interested. Whether it’s your location, family, friends, etc., it’s all available there for someone looking. You want to share this information with your friends, but not with people who just stumble across your Facebook page. Right now, go spend 5 minutes checking and double-checking your privacy settings. It’s under “Account” at the top right of your Facebook page. Don’t divulge your address/phone number when posting on someone’s wall or responding to someone posting on your wall. Email it to them, if necessary. Or, pick up the phone!
- Pay attention to misspellings. If the site doesn’t look right, check your spelling. If you spell Google or Disney wrong, you might not be in the right place.
- Every year complete a full analysis of your online persona. Use a search engine to gather and review all content associated with your identity. Be aware of the information about you that is available online. One of the ways in which individuals are compromised is when a hacker or con man uses information that they’ve found out about you through a simple search and manipulate it.
- Take control of your email. Avoid opening email attachments received unexpectedly — no matter who appears to have sent it. Remember that most worms and trojan-laden spam try to spoof the sender’s name. And make sure your email client isn’t leaving you open to infection. Reading email in plain text offers important security benefits that more than offset the loss of pretty colored fonts.
- Treat IM suspiciously. Instant Messaging is a frequent target of worms and trojans. Treat it just as you would email.
- Avoid P2P and distributed filesharing. Torrent, Kazaa, Gnutella, Morpheus and at least a dozen other filesharing networks exist. Most are free. And all are rife with trojans, viruses, worms, adware, spyware, and every other form of malicious code imaginable. There’s no such thing as safe anonymous filesharing. Avoid it like the plague
- Keep abreast of Internet scams. Criminals think of clever ways to separate you from your hard earned cash. Don’t get fooled by emails telling sad stories, or making unsolicited job offers, or promising lotto winnings. Likewise, beware of email masquerading as a security concern from your bank or other eCommerce site.
- Be wary of “phishing” attacks. A good rule is: When in doubt, type it out. Although the URL may look trustworthy, con men hide bad links in hyperlinks. “If you type in the thing yourself, you’ll be able to see if that email was real or not,” In general, read the URL and use a common sense approach. If it says “.ru” instead of “.com,” ask yourself, “Does it make sense that my bank site is being hosted in Russia?” If you get an email from one of your contacts that seem out of character that has a link or attachment, don’t click on it. If a web site opens a window asking you to download something, don’t download it. If someone contacts you, asking for information that you normally wouldn’t give out, but this person is in need of some kind of help, don’t go against your better judgment. When posting stuff on the internet, don’t divulge personal information. If I asked you. if some person in Romania emailed you, saying that they had $14.2 million dollars in an offshore account and just needed help getting it to a US account and were willing to give you half of it if you helped them.. Would you give them your account information? No? Why not? Don’t laugh. Hundreds of people have fallen victim to this scam. It exploits two human vulnerabilities: Kindness and greed. Again, common sense and intuition could prevent this from ever working.
- Realize how your details are shared. Although you might have provided your contact information to your local supermarket, they might not be the ones storing that information. Many companies outsource that kind of storage to a third party. “The answer is not to say, ‘I will never use the Internet’. The answer is to say, ‘I’m going to hold the companies I do business with, both online and offline, accountable for their actions,”
- Check your financial health annually by obtaining a copy of your credit report to look for false or fraudulent activity.
Remember, there’s far more good than bad on the Internet. The goal isn’t to be paranoid. The goal is to be cautious, aware, and even suspicious.