And it certainly does not eliminate our exposure to the speeders, tailgaters, and the road ragers that seem to plague our highways. Licensing then, doesn’t seem to eliminate the risks we face on the road.
So would requiring a license to use the Internet make it a safer place for all of us? Would requiring a license from the “Department of Computer Literacy”, protect us from the ever increasing exposure we all face to Trojans, Spyware, Virus’, Phishing Scams, Identity Theft, ….. the list goes on.
You may think that I’m being facetious; but I’m not. The fact is the dangers on the Internet are not, in a sense, unlike the dangers and risks we face while driving on our streets and highways.
Unlike the need to be educated and practiced, in order to qualify for a driver’s license; to access the Internet all that is required is a modem attached to a computer. There’s no need to prove qualifications. There’s no need to prove an awareness of the very real dangers that the Internet presents.
Being involved in computer security, I am amazed at the lack of knowledge exhibited by typical computer users, and most importantly, the lack of knowledge concerning the need to secure their machines against the ever increasing risks on the Internet.
The problem, it seems, is multifaceted. Part of the problem is simply fear. People do not understand computers, so they are afraid of them in a sense. Secondly, people generally, are simply not interested in learning about computers sufficiently to make the fear go away. The question is, of course, should they need to know anything other than how to turn on a computer? Well maybe not.
Many computer experts agree that it is primarily flawed computer software, and not just inadequate user knowledge, that is the biggest contributor to the proliferation of unsecured computer systems and cyber-crime, on the Internet.
It seems to me then, what is needed as a good first step, are machines that are designed with simple, but internally sophisticated operating systems, secure and easy to use for the majority of users; where no user interaction is required to maintain the security of the system.
We now live in the age of the “Interconnectedness of All Things” in which we are beginning to see the development and availability of large numbers of Internet connected devices. There is no doubt that this will lend new strength to computer-aided crime and perhaps even terrorists.
Unless we develop a rational approach to the underlying security issues surrounding the Internet, and insist software companies’ stop rushing out new products with little regard for security, hackers will continue to flourish and successful attacks on computers over the internet will continue to proliferate.
There are steps you can take to decrease the likelihood you will be the victim of a successful attack on your computer.
The following is a brief guide to the basic security issues you should be aware of on the Internet, followed by a guide to some of the steps you can take to secure your computer for Internet usage.
Security risks on the Internet you need to be aware of:
Trojan horse programs
Back door and remote administration programs
Denial of service
Being an intermediary for another attack
Unprotected Windows shares
Hidden file extensions
Security Checklist: Actions you can take to protect your computer system:
Install WOT (Web of Trust), a free Internet Browser add-on. WOT tests web sites you are visiting for spyware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, unreliable online shops, phishing, and online scams, helping you avoid unsafe sites.
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 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