Computer and Internet Security – How Savvy Are You?

When you surf the Internet are you a savvy computer user? Are you aware of the dangers and pitfalls that wait for the typical unsuspecting user? How likely are you to be pounced on by the multitude of scam artists, schemers and cyber-crooks lurking in the shadows, just waiting for victims.

In any given week I speak with 100’s of typical Internet users who generally have the same behavior characteristics while surfing the Internet in that they:

Use a search engine to locate and generate information.

Despite the fact that cyber-crooks continue to be unrelenting in their chase to infect web search results, seeding malicious websites among the top results returned by these engines – the typical user I come into contact with, has little or no knowledge of current conditions and believes search engine output to be untainted, and free of potential harmful exposure to malware.

Sadly, current statistics indicate that web pages continue to be infected with malware at an ever increasing rate. Some estimates suggest that a legitimate website is infected every five seconds!

For a comprehensive article that discusses how “phishers” are currently infecting legitimate sites check out “More Than 80% Of Phishing Attacks Use Hijacked, Legitimate Websites”, on  the Dark Reading web site.

Trust the information they discover while online to be reliable and credible.

Rogue security software developers, for example, rely on the innate level of trust that typical Internet users’ have developed, to convince users’ to download this type of malicious software.

The vast majority of typical Internet users I speak with are not aware that such a class of software even exists. But it does; and regrettably, it is now widespread.

A rogue security application is an application, usually found on free download and adult websites, or it can be installed from rogue security software websites, using Trojans or manipulating Internet browser security holes.

After the installation of rogue security software the program launches fake or false malware detection warnings. Rogue security applications, and there seems to be an epidemic of them on the Internet currently, are developed to mislead uninformed computer users’ into downloading and paying for the “full” version of this bogus software, based on the false malware positives generated by the application.

Some types of rogue security software have the potential to collect private and personal information from an infected machine which could include passwords, credit card details, and other sensitive information.

Communicate with family and friends by email.

The worldwide Internet population is now estimated to be 1.08 billion users, so the ability to communicate with family and friends has increased dramatically.

Unfortunately however, cyber-crooks are well aware of the opportunities such a large number of unaware potential victims present for illicit monetary gain.

Incredible as it seems, billions (that’s right billions), of spam email messages are generated every hour through so called botnets; zombie computers controlled by cyber-criminals.

The IC³ (Internet Crime Complaint Center) recently stated that these types of attacks against Internet users are occurring with such frequency, that the situation can be called nothing short of “alarming”.

Yet, the majority of typical users, that I meet, are unaware of the very real dangers that spam emails hold for their safety, security and identity protection.

Email scams work because the cyber-crooks responsible use social engineering as the hook; in other words they exploit our curiosity. The fact is, we are all pretty curious creatures and let’s face it, who doesn’t like sensational email topics.

Sensational news alerts, for example, continue be one of the methods cyber-crooks have selected to capture users’ attention, rather than emails offering pharmaceuticals, expensive watches, or other knockoff products.

As I have pointed out in the past on this Blog, the following are actions you can take to protect your computer system, your money and your identity:

Install an Internet Browser add-on such as McAfee SiteAdvisor, which provides detailed test results on a site’s safety; protecting you from security threats including spyware, adware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, and online scams.

Don’t open unknown email attachments.

Don’t run programs of unknown origin.

Disable hidden filename extensions.

Keep all applications (including your operating system) patched.

Turn off your computer or disconnect from the network when not in use.

Disable Java, JavaScript, and ActiveX if possible.

Disable scripting features in email programs.

Make regular backups of critical data.

Make a boot disk in case your computer is damaged or compromised.

Turn off file and printer sharing on the computer.

Install a personal firewall on the computer.

Install anti-virus and anti-spyware software and ensure it is configured to automatically update when you are connected to the Internet.

Ensure the anti-virus software scans all e-mail attachments.

Be proactive when it comes to your computer’s security; make sure you have adequate software based protection to reduce the chances that your machine will become infected.

Finally, a major step you can take to in prevent yourself from becoming a victim of cyber-criminals is to overcome the instinctive response to just “click” while surfing the Internet. That instinctive response poses one of the biggest risks to your online safety and security.

Stop – Think – Click

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9 Comments

Filed under Browser add-ons, Don't Get Hacked, email scams, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Internet Explorer Add-ons, Internet Safety, internet scams, Malware Advisories, Online Safety, Phishing, Rogue Software, Safe Surfing, Software, System Security, trojans, Viruses, Windows Tips and Tools, worms

9 responses to “Computer and Internet Security – How Savvy Are You?

  1. whatsonmypc

    Bill,

    These past two articles you have written should be published in a computer tutorial manual… Taking the time to put this all into words is truly a work of art… With your OK, I would like to do a post to point my readers to these articles…

    Rick

    • Bill Mullins

      Thank you Rick.

      Please feel free to use any of my stuff, in any way that you like – after all, WE are the good guys!

      I like your idea of a manual. I’m closing in on 700 (667) articles on this Blog, and I should have enough material for a 2 or 3 page manual now, I think. LOL

      Bill

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  4. rally nice article and useful one.. thank you for sharing this with me. please keep update..

  5. this is all great, but maybe adding a HOW TO section could help alot of dumb(Sorry for the word but its true) home user to help him self and friends.

    • Bill Mullins

      Thanks for the comment Dave. This site however is not a ‘HOW TO” Blog, since there are literally 1,000’s of sites that serve this purpose.

      Bill

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