As a result, an untrusting individual changes his or her actions in response to a world that is perceived as personally threatening.
It is beyond dispute that the Internet now fits the criteria of a world that is not just perceived to be, but is in fact, personally threatening to uninformed or casual Internet users.
In a sense, it is unfortunate that you can’t buy paranoia at the local computer store, or that you can’t download it from the Internet.
If you knew malware delivery methods like I know malware delivery methods, well ……….
Despite the best efforts of antispyware, antivirus, and other Internet security products, you still face substantial risks while surfing the Internet. Malware (a genetic term for all sorts of nasties), evolves so rapidly today that staying ahead of the curve has proven to be all but impossible for security software developers.
While reputable Anti-malware software is often capable of detecting harmful and malicious attempts to compromise your computer, this is not always the case. Anti-malware programs that rely on a definition database (most anti-malware programs) can be behind the curve in recognizing the newest threats.
So we all need to become infected with a mild case of paranoia when using the Internet. Being paranoid, suspicious, and untrusting while surfing the web, might not make you invulnerable to malware infections or worse, but it will certainly reduce the odds enormously.
The prime area where paranoia can play an important role in preventing you from becoming a victim of cyber criminals is in overcoming the instinctive human response to just “click” while surfing the Internet. That instinctive response poses one of the biggest risks to your online safety and security.
Curiosity, coupled with a conditioned response can often override self-discipline and common sense; so it’s not unusual for people to engage in some, or all (shudder), of the following unsafe surfing practices.
- Downloading files and software through file-sharing applications such as BitTorrent, eDonkey, KaZaA and other such programs.
- Clicking links in instant messaging (IM) that have no context or are composed of only general text.
- Downloading executable software from web sites without ensuring that the site is reputable.
- Using an unsecured USB stick on public computers, or other computers that are used by more than one person.
- Opening email attachments from unknown people.
- Opening email attachments without first scanning them for viruses.
- Opening email attachments that end in a file extension of .exe, .vbs, or .lnk.
So it’s time for you to develop a case of paranoia while surfing the Internet, and as a first step be actively aware of the following threats to your personal and computer security.
- Trojan horse programs
- Back door and remote administration programs
- Denial of service
- Being an intermediary for another attack
- Unprotected Window shares
- Cross-site scripting
- Email spoofing
- Email-borne viruses
- Hidden file extensions
- Chat clients
- Packet sniffing
Having developed this new sense of paranoia you will no doubt take the following actions to protect your computer system, your money and your identity:
- Install an Internet Browser add-on such as WOT (my personal favorite), 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 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.
If you are unsure if you have adequate software based protection on your computer, then check out “The 35 Best Free Applications – Tried, Tested and Reliable!”, on this site, and download free security software that is appropriate for your personal circumstances.