Advanced technology brings with it advanced hazards. You may be street smart and no-one may be able to con you in every day situations, but the world of the PC and the Internet has its own dangers. Here are some ways to stay safe when navigating the turbulent waters of surfing the Internet.
• Update your operating system and your browser.
Hackers, like sharks, have a nose for weakness in any form and like the oceans’ predators, they can find and exploit the slightest weak spot.. The major suppliers of Operating Systems and Browsers (Apple, Microsoft, Mozilla, etc.) regularly find new potential loopholes in their software and regularly issue patches and updates. In most cases, you can (and should) set your software to automatically download these updates. It’s one more way of closing potential entry points which the bad guys can use to get into your system and cause havoc. Even when you acquire a new OS or Browser or buy a brand new PC, don’t forget to check that you’re running the latest version of software.
Buy and install the best anti-virus, anti-spyware and anti-adware software .
The baddies are coming up with new malicious programs every day. These destructive and damaging pieces of software can harm your system and can even result in identity theft, which could cause you financial pain and severely disrupt your life. Be sure that your PC is equipped with a good anti-virus program, as well as a an anti-spyware tool which will target and remove adware and spyware. Remember that these tools need to be updated on a regular basis to keep you safe.
• Firewalls can keep the Bad Guys out.
Firewalls are designed to filter incoming and outgoing messages between your PC (or network) and the Internet. They come in both software and hardware versions, and these days, if you use a router to access the Internet, a hardware firewall is usually built in. Software firewalls give additional protection and they can detect and block unauthorized communications, either incoming or outgoing. If you have a broadband connection to the Internet, you’re particularly vulnerable, since it’s normally always on.
• Emails can be deadly.
Some very nasty viruses, worms and Trojans can be embedded in email attachments, so get into the habit of being very wary about opening them. Ensure that your protection software is set up to scan incoming emails for problems, and even if an email purports to be from a friend or a family member, take care when opening it. The basic rule is, if you don’t recognize the sender, just delete it!
• Wi-Fi is great, but be careful.
Sure, it’s convenient, but it’s also radio transmission, and there are ways to listen in, or transmit on your frequency. Use the following tips to safeguard your Wi-Fi Internet access:
- Change your SSID and Administrator password. Don’t use the defaults, but set up your own difficult-to crack ID and password.
- Disable the broadcast feature – make it more difficult for the hackers and crackers to find you
- Use WPA encryption with a good, strong password. Use the older WEP encryption if you have to, but WPA is better
- Use MAC Address Filtering. You have the option to set up the MAC addresses which can access your network and restrict that group to you and your family’s PCs. Any foreign PC or laptop will be unable to piggyback on your signal.
• Use strong passwords.
Don’t use your spouse’s name, your kids’ names or even your pets’ name as a password. They are too easy to guess. A strong password is longer than 7 letters, uses a mixture of letters, numbers and symbols and shouldn’t even be a word, just an impossible to guess collection of characters. More difficult to remember (don’t write it down, memorise it!), but it gives vastly improved security.
• Watch what you download.
Be careful in your browsing habits. The Internet has tons of “freebies”, items which you can download without payment, ranging from music MP3s, movies, utilities, useful software, trial versions of programs and much, much more. If you have to download something, be sure that it comes from a reputable vendor, otherwise you’re running the risk of importing contaminated software that may contain a virus or Trojan or some other potentially damaging piece of malware.