While connected to the Internet, just like you, I face exposure to Trojans, spyware, viruses, phishing scams, identity theft, scam artists, schemers and cyber crooks lurking in the shadows, just waiting to make me a victim. Even so, the odds of me picking up a malware infection, or being scammed, are low – not 0% but…… Am I just lucky, or is it more than that?
Well, to some extent I might be lucky – but, it takes much more than luck to stay safe on the Internet. For me – it really boils down to prevention. Preventing cybercriminals from getting a foothold by being vigilant and adhering scrupulously to fundamental security precautions, including -
A fully patched operating system.
A robust firewall.
Automatically updated anti-virus and anti-spyware software
An aggressive HIPS (host intrusion prevention system).
Increased Internet Browser protection through selected add-ons.
and, most importantly never forgetting to – Stop. Think. Click.
Despite all those security precautions though, there’s one connected activity that still concerns me – online banking. Regardless of the fact that I choose my Internet banking provider based partially on its low profile (four branches as opposed to the usual 3,000/5,000 branches common in Canadian banking), I’m not entirely relying on this low profile as a guarantee that cybercriminals will not target my provider.
The inescapable fact remains; I am my own best protection while conducting financial transactions on the Internet. Frankly, I’m not convinced that financial institutions are where they need to be when it comes to protecting their online customers.
Despite my best efforts it’s possible (though unlikely), that malicious code may be installed on my computer – ready to pounce on my banking user account names, and passwords. Which is why, I have long made it a practice to conduct my financial affairs on the Internet via a self-booting Linux Live CD running Firefox. Since a Linux Live CD is read-only media, the environment (running entirely in RAM), will be much more secure than Windows.
Yes, I admit that it’s a pain to shut down and reboot just to complete an online financial transaction but, I’d rather be safe than sorry – I’m into an ounce of prevention. Since the majority of malware is Windows specific, banking online through a Linux Live CD is my ounce of prevention.
Recommended Linux Live CDs:
Lightweight Portable Security (LPS) – A Linux distro from the US Department of Defense.
Ubuntu – fast, secure and easy-to-use.
Puppy Linux – A complete operating system with suite of GUI apps, only about 70 – 140MB, and boots directly off the CD.
KNOPPIX – Live Linux file system on CD.
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