Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Different Types of Internet Threats (Part 4)

There are two things that you need to do when roaming around the Internet to keep your computer's OS and its data safe. One, make sure your computer is properly protected, we addressed this subject in the first three parts of this article. Two, you need to follow some common sense guidelines of what not to do.

Below is my list of top 10 Internet don'ts:
  1. E-mail is insecure, never send sensitive information that is not encrypted. Its very easy for someone to intercept it and its generally sent in plain text so its easy to read. Check out the following article for more information.
  2. Don't open e-mail attachments or SPAM messages. Attachments can contain malware, spam messages can contain web beacons, which tell spammers which e-mail addresses are valid.
  3. Don't post your e-mail address on the Web or give it out to any site that requests its, unless you want to be spam.
  4. Avoid downloading applications from sites that you don't trust. This is one way to get malware installed on your system.
  5. When visiting a web site and all of a sudden a pop-up displays asking you to install an ActiveX control, just say 'No'. This is another way malware gets installed on your system.
  6. Avoid clicking links in email, they can't be trusted. Often they can lead to phishing sites.
  7. Before ever sending personal or private data over the Internet to any web site you trust (Amazon, eBay, etc...), make sure that the communication is encrypted. Look for the HTTPS:// in the address bar, and a closed lock in your browser's status bar.
  8. Just because a web site asks for personal or private information, don't give it up unless you're comfortable sending this information over the Internet or giving it to that site.
  9. Use a credit card (i.e.: Visa, Master Card, American Express, etc...) when making purchases over the Internet. Credit cards give you the most protection on Internet purchases. Other methods such as debit cards, 'electronic checks' (i.e.: your checking account information), or etc.. are not recommended because they don't have the anti-fraud protections.
  10. People and information on the Internet are not reliable. Always make sure to consider the source of the information. For example if its from the Washington Post I would trust it a lot more then what I read in a forum post on a web site somewhere. Also, like information people may not be who they say they are on the Internet.

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