With access to the internet and all its wonderful resources becoming ever more common and taken even for granted, there are still dangers, annoyances and serious threats that can be regularly encountered. Thankfully with the use of helpful antivirus software and a discerning eye, many of these threats, once identified can almost be completely avoided.
Strong passwords are still the frontline defence against those that would seek to infiltrate your networked devices and gain access to information for criminal purposes. Make it a habit to activate passwords on all your devices, such as computers, tablets, cell phones and e-readers and remember to change them regularly.
Avoid using everyday words that can be easily guessed; instead create combinations of letters, numbers and characters that are more obscure. A great tip is to use the first letter of a memorable sentence and string them together to form seemingly random combinations. So a sentence such as ‘My name is Barry Allen and I’m the fastest man alive’ becomes MNIBAAITFMA. Such passwords become even stronger when the letters alternate between upper and lower cases.
BE SUSPICIOUS OF SCAM SITES
Most of us have probably seen sites pop up that tell us that we’ve won the lottery, a new iPad or discount coupons for an expensive item. Ask yourself honestly, have you EVER met ANYONE who has clicked one of these links and claimed such a prize? It just doesn’t happen and these sites are only ruses to gather personal information from you that the creators hope to further exploit.
INSTALL ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE
Nothing beefs up Internet Security more than high quality antivirus software that scans every nook and cranny of your computer on a regular basis. Be sure to choose software that can be set to update itself regularly and that covers all the bases such as email, malware, Trojans, adware and worms. Also, use antivirus software that is user friendly and doesn’t require a degree in rocket science to figure out the basics.
FAKE SECURITY WARNINGS
In stark contrast, some of the worst offenders in terms of dangerous websites are those that pretend to be legitimate virus scanners that bleep and blast sirens announcing ‘warning – your computer is infected. Click here to resolve the problem’. These sites are seeking access to the operating system of your device and can install software that runs in the background snooping on emails, logging keystrokes and forwarding your private information to who knows where. Avoid clicking on these sites like the plague because they will open up endless windows that stop the user from shutting them down. The key advice here is if you doubt that a site is legitimate, close your web browser and run an authentic antivirus program just to be extra safe.
Email attachments are still one of the most direct ways to infiltrate a well-protected system as unwitting recipients make the click that gets them up and running. Be extra discerning and never open attachments from unknown recipients. Disable any options your email software may have that allow attachments to be automatically downloaded. Visually scanning the senders address and filtering out emails from strangers is not that difficult and some of the subject lines that are obviously designed to intrigue and confuse are often a dead giveaway.
Despite the infrequent inconveniences, the internet is still an incredible asset that serves us all in so many ways. Taking the time to be a little more cautious and careful can help ensure that safety will win out over anxiety.