Tag Archives: common sense

The Fundamental Principle Of Safe Surfing – Think “Common Sense”

imageSo what can you add to your computer’s Firewall, Security Applications, and Browser security add-ons to ensure you have the best protection available while you’re surfing the web? Well, how about something that’s free, and readily available? Something called “Common Sense”.

Common sense: sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts.

–   Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary

Common Sense Tip #1 – Given the virtual epidemic of malware currently circulating on the Internet, don’t run, or install programs, of unknown origin.

Internet users’ continue to be bombarded with rogue security software which has reached epidemic proportions. There seems to be no end to the release of new rogue security software threats. Rogue software will often install and use a Trojan horse to download a trial version, or it will perform other actions on a machine that are detrimental such as slowing down the computer drastically.

Download applications, particularly free programs, only from verifiably safe sites (sites that guarantee malware free downloads), such as Download.com, MajorGeeks, Softpedia, and the like.

There are many more safe download sites available, but be sure you investigate the site thoroughly before you download anything. Googling the site, while not always entirely reliable, is a good place to start. A recommendation from friends as to a site’s safety is often a more appropriate choice.

Common Sense Tip #2 – Don’t open emails that come from untrusted sources. It’s been estimated that 96% of emails are spam. While not all spam is unsafe, common sense dictates that you treat it as if it is.

Common Sense Tip #3 – Don’t run files that you receive via email without making sure of their origin. If the link has been sent to you in a forwarded email from a friend, be particularly cautious. Forwarded emails are notorious for containing dangerous elements, and links.

Common Sense Tip #4 – Don’t click links in emails. If they come from a known source, type them in the browser’s address bar. If they come from an untrusted source, simply ignore them, as they could take you to a web designed to download malware onto your computer.

Common Sense Tip #5 – If you do not use a web based email service then be sure your anti-virus software scans all incoming e-mail and attachments.

Common Sense Tip #6 – 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.

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.

Most of all, understand that you are your own best protection.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under Cyber Criminals, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Interconnectivity, Safe Surfing, Windows Tips and Tools

Internet Dating And Extortion – Real Life Mirrors Fiction

imageThis past week, I reread The Brethren, a novel by American author John Grisham, first published in 2000. The novel’s plot centers on a scam in which three incarcerated Judges blackmail wealthy closeted gay men who unwittingly (through letters), provide the rogue Judges, who collectively are posing as a young gay man, with all the information needed to make the blackmail scam a winner.

In case you want to read the book (I highly recommend it – Grisham is a terrific novelist), I won’t spoil it for you by revealing additional story elements, but suffice it to say, that the naiveté of the victims in providing highly personal information, drives the plot forward.

But this is just fiction – a made up story. In “real” life this type of situation, or a  situation similar to it, just wouldn’t happen, right? Ah, but it does – as illustrated in the following news report from a recent edition of the Toronto Star newspaper.

Rather than rely on snail mail, as the fictional characters in the novel do, the Internet is the weapon of choice in the following scam, as you’ll see.

Police say a number of men looking for love on the Internet found extortion instead.

Halton Regional Police allege a man joined a number of adult dating service websites posing as a woman and prospective date for male subscribers. The interested men were then persuaded to provide personal information about themselves.

Police say the information provided by the unsuspecting victims in emails, chats, texts and voice mail messages then formed the basis for extortion. There were threats to publish the information on social networking sites or send it directly to family, friends, or employers unless monetary demands were met.

Kevin Fletcher, 43, of Burlington, Ont., faces eight counts of extortion and one of criminal harassment.

The Internet and its associated tools, including those tools mentioned in the newspaper report – emails, chats, texts and voice mail messages, seems to have affected the victims’ brain functions. Normal personal security precautions appear to have been thrown out the window; including common sense – assuming they had any common sense to begin with!

I have no doubt, that the victims in this case would have benefited from reading Internet Security: There’s an App for That – Your BRAIN!, posted here earlier this year.

There’s a lesson in this sad story – establishing a personal relationship through Internet dating, despite the success stories touted in numerous television commercials, is not without risk. And, should be approached with the same sense of caution and awareness, that one would use in any Internet transaction.

image

That old truism – “Nobody knows you’re a Dog on the Internet” – takes on special significance when it comes to online dating.

A sampling of common sense Internet dating safety tips from the Wired Safety Website.

Do not believe everything you read online

You can be anything or anyone you want to be online. I keep trying to get people to believe that I am tall, blonde and gorgeous! (So far, no takers…). That cute brunette 24-year-old guy may not be cuter, may not be 24 and most importantly, may not be a guy. There is not truth in advertising protection when you date online.

Do not give out personal information online

Personal information that would let someone find you offline would never be shared online. Your full name, where you work, where you live, your phone number (see my note on giving out your phone number), your fax number…these should not be shared online.

Use an online dating service that uses an anonymizer or re-mailer to mask your real e-mail, or set up a Hotmail or other free account just for dating online. Cyber romance can quickly turn to cyberstalking – it is better to be able to terminate that particular account than to have to set up a new main account, and notify everyone you know.

To read the full list of Internet dating safety tips, visit Wired Safety.org.

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Filed under cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, email scams, Internet Dating Safety Tips, Internet Safety, internet scams, Online Safety, Windows Tips and Tools

An Anti-malware Test – Common Sense Wins

image I’ve just finished an anti-malware test that lasted for just over a year. For this test, I took a test machine, running Windows XP Professional, which I did not shut down, or reboot, for 373 days.

For 373 days, the machine was continuously wired to the Internet and each day, was used for active surfing and general computer use, including email, downloading applications, and so on.

During the test period, the installed anti-malware applications were patched and updated, as was the operating system. Common sense; right?

However, I did not run a single anti-malware scan of any description, since not doing so, was part of the objective of the test.

The overall purpose of the test was to determine if common sense plays a role in protecting a computer user against viruses, adware, spyware, hackers, spam,  phishing, and other Internet frauds.

Let me be clear, this test is in no way scientific, but instead, is a rather simple test on the importance of common sense in using a computer attached to the Internet.

Installed Anti-malware applications:

ZoneAlarm Firewall (free edition)

Spyware Terminator (free edition)

Avira Antivirus (free edition)

ThreatFire (free edition)

SnoopFree Privacy Shield (freeware)

WinPatrol (free edition)

Firefox – not strictly an anti-malware application, but…..

WOT

During this very extensive test run, the machine showed no indication of a malware infection; at least by normal observation (since I didn’t run any scans), – no system slowdown; no unusual disk use; no unusual Internet activity; no security application warnings.

In addition to practicing common sense in terms of not visiting the class of web sites that are known to be dangerous – porn sites; salacious news site; Facebook; MySpace; and so on, I absolutely adhered to the following.

I did not:

Download files and software through file-sharing applications such as BitTorrent, eDonkey, KaZaA and other such programs.

Click links in instant messaging (IM) that had no context, or were composed of only general text.

Download executable software from web sites without ensuring that the site was reputable.

Open email, or email attachments, from unknown people.

Open email attachments without first scanning them for viruses.

Open email attachments that ended in a file extension of .exe, .vbs, or .lnk.

Visit any site not shown as safe by WOT.

After 373 days (the end of the test period), I then ran multiple scans using the onboard security applications. The end result – not a single incidence of infection, malware, or an unwanted application.

It’s clear, at least to me, that by using common sense and updating both applications and the operating system, not visiting the class of web sites known to be unsafe, not clicking haphazardly and opening the types of files that are clearly dangerous, and being aware of the hidden dangers on the Internet, the dividends were measurable.

This was a long boring test, but it proved to me, that using common sense reduces the substantial risks we all face while surfing the Internet, regardless of the antispyware, antivirus, and the other Internet security applications installed.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under Anti-Keyloggers, Anti-Malware Tools, Antivirus Applications, Browser add-ons, cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Freeware, Internet Safety, Software, System Security, Windows Tips and Tools

The Enemy is at the Gate – Common Sense Tips for Internet and System Security

commonsense 3 So what can you add to your computer’s Firewall, Security Applications, and Browser security add-ons to ensure you have the best protection available while you’re surfing the web?

Well, how about something that’s free, and readily available. Something called “Common Sense”.

Common sense: sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts. Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary

Common Sense Tip #1 – Given the virtual epidemic of malware currently circulating on the Internet, don’t run, or install programs, of unknown origin.

Internet users’ continue to be bombarded with rogue security software which has reached epidemic proportions. There seems to be no end to the release of new rogue security software threats. Rogue software will often install and use a Trojan horse to download a trial version, or it will perform other actions on a machine that are detrimental such as slowing down the computer drastically.

Download applications, particularly free programs, only from verifiably safe sites (sites that guarantee malware free downloads), such as Download.com, MajorGeeks, Softpedia, and the like.

There are many more safe download sites available, but be sure you investigate the site thoroughly before you download anything. Googling the site, while not always entirely reliable, is a good place to start. A recommendation from friends as to a site’s safety is often a more appropriate choice.

Common Sense Tip #2 – Don’t open emails that come from untrusted sources. It’s been estimated that 96% of emails are spam. While not all spam is unsafe, common sense dictates that you treat it as if it is.

Much of the spam emails I’ve seen lately are crafted around spicy, scandalous, and salacious stories. This is generally a dead giveaway that you are dealing with a risky email.

Here’s a recent email from my inbox – “Who to blame in world crisis?‎ – Ivanka Trump sunbathing pics http://www.000000.com”. Common sense tells me there is a major disconnect between the heading of this email (Who to blame in world crisis?) and sunbathing pics of Ivanka Trump. There is no doubt that this is a dodgy email. By the way her name is Ivana, not Ivanka.

Common Sense Tip #3 – Don’t run files that you receive via email without making sure of their origin. If the link has been sent to you in a forwarded email from a friend, be particularly cautious. Forwarded emails are notorious for containing dangerous elements, and links.

Common Sense Tip #4 – Don’t click links in emails. If they come from a known source, type them in the browser’s address bar. If they come from an untrusted source, simply ignore them, as they could take you to a web designed to download malware onto your computer.

Common Sense Tip #5 – If you do not use a web based email service then be sure your anti-virus software scans all incoming e-mail and attachments.

Common Sense Tip #6 – 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.

adeona with locks

If you are unsure if your software based protection is up to the task then checkout the following recommended free downloads that will help you manage and protect your computer system.

These applications have been well tested over the years for reliability and functionality, and all have developed a strong, loyal following.

AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition

AVG Anti-Virus Free 8.0 now incorporates protection against spyware through a new combined anti-virus and anti-spyware engine as well as a “safe-searching component” which has been incorporated into the new AVG Internet Security Toolbar. This program scans files on access, on demand, and on schedule and scans email incoming and outgoing. For those on Vista, you’re in luck, it’s Vista-ready

Spyware Doctor Starter Edition

Spyware Doctor Starter Edition from PC Tools is an excellent choice, as a secondary line of defense. This free version of the award winning program, with its easy to use interface, is used by millions of people worldwide to protect their computers; it’s reported there are a million+ additional downloads every week. Be aware however, there is no real-time protection offered with this version and this is the reason I recommend this application as a secondary scanner only.

Spyware Terminator

Having tested virtually all of the major anti-spyware applications over the past year or more, I’ve settled, for now, on Spyware Terminator primarily due to its strong real-time protection against spyware, adware, Trojans, key-loggers, home page hijackers and other malware threats. Spyware Terminator excels in strong active protection against know and unknown threats. If anything, I find it perhaps a little overly aggressive. On the other hand, better this than the alternative.

Comodo Firewall Pro

Comodo Firewall protects your system by defeating hackers and restricting unauthorized programs from accessing the Internet. I have been using this application for 10 months and I continue to feel very secure. It resists being forcibly terminated and it works as well, or better, than any firewall I’ve paid for. This is one I highly recommend. Amazing that it’s free!

HiJackFree

If you are an experienced/advanced computer user and you’re looking for a program to strengthen your anti-malware resources, then HiJackFree is one that’s worth taking a look at. This free application, from EMSI Software, offers a potent layer of additional protection to add to your major anti-malware programs. The program operates as a detailed system analysis tool that can help you in the detection and removal of Hijackers, Spyware, Adware, Trojans, Worms, and other malware. It doesn’t offer live protection but instead, it examines your system, determines if it’s been infected, and then allows you to eradicate the malware.

Ad-Aware

Ad-Aware Free is good free spyware and adware remover. It does a good job of protecting against known data-mining, Trojans, dialers, malware, browser hijackers and tracking components. The only downside with the free version; real-time protection is not included.

ThreatFire

ThreatFire blocks mal-ware, including zero-day threats, by analyzing program behavior and it does a stellar job. Again, this is one of the security applications that forms part of my front line defenses. I have found it to have high success rate at blocking mal-ware based on analysis of behavior. Highly recommend this one!

Web of Trust (WOT)

WOT is a free Internet Browser add-on (my personal favorite), that has established an impressive 4.5/5.0 star user rating on CNET. WOT tests web sites you are visiting for spyware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, unreliable online shops, phishing, and online scams, helping you avoid unsafe web sites.

SnoopFree Privacy Shield

SnoopFree Privacy Shield is a powerful application that guards your keyboard, screen and open windows from all spy software. I have been using this application for quite some time, and I have been amazed at the number of programs that have requested access to my keyboard and screen. In particular, programs that I am in the process of installing. If you’re serious about privacy, this is a must have addition to your security toolbox.

5 Comments

Filed under Adware, Anti-Malware Tools, Antivirus Applications, Browser add-ons, Don't Get Hacked, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety Tools, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, System File Protection, System Security, Windows Tips and Tools

Internet and System Security – Common Sense Tips

So what can you add to your computer’s Firewall, Security Applications and Browser security add-ons to ensure you have the best protection available while you’re surfing the web? Well, how about something that’s free, and readily available. Something called “Common Sense”.

Common sense: sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts. Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary

Common Sense Tip #1 – Given the virtual epidemic of malware currently circulating on the Internet, don’t run, or install programs, of unknown origin.

Internet users’ continue to be bombarded with rogue security software which has reached epidemic proportions. There seems to be no end to the release of new rogue security software threats. Rogue software will often install and use a Trojan horse to download a trial version, or it will perform other actions on a machine that are detrimental such as slowing down the computer drastically.

Download applications, particularly free programs, only from verifiably safe sites (sites that guarantee malware free downloads), such as Download.com, MajorGeeks, Softpedia, and so on.

There are many more safe download sites available, but be sure you investigate the site thoroughly before you download anything. Googling the site, while not always entirely reliable, is a good place to start. A recommendation from friends as to a site’s safety is often a more appropriate choice.

Common Sense Tip #2 – Don’t open emails that come from untrusted sources. It’s been estimated that 96% of emails are spam. While not all spam is unsafe, common sense dictates that you treat it as if it is.

Much of the spam emails I’ve seen lately are crafted around spicy, scandalous, and salacious stories. This is generally a dead giveaway that you are dealing with a risky email.

Here’s an email from my inbox this morning – Who to blame in world crisis?‎ – Ivanka Trump sunbathing pics http://www.000000.com. Common sense tells me there is a major disconnect between the heading of this email (Who to blame in world crisis?) and sunbathing pics of Ivanka Trump. There is no doubt that this is a dodgy email. By the way her name is Ivana, not Ivanka.

Common Sense Tip #3 – Don’t run files that you receive via email without making sure of their origin. If the link has been sent to you in a forwarded email from a friend, be particularly cautious. Forwarded emails are notorious for containing dangerous elements, and links.

For more on unsafe email attachments checkout New Infected Attachment Scam, on TechPaul’s site.

Common Sense Tip #4 – Don’t click links in emails. If they come from a known source, type them in the browser’s address bar. If they come from an untrusted source, simply ignore them, as they could take you to a web designed to download malware onto your computer.

Common Sense Tip #5 – If you do not use a web based email service then be sure your anti-virus software scans all incoming e-mail and attachments.

Common Sense Tip #6 – 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 your software based protection is up to the task then checkout the following recommended free downloads that will help you manage and protect your computer system.

These applications have been well tested over the years for reliability and functionality, and all have developed a strong, loyal following.

AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 8.0.1

AVG Anti-Virus Free 8.0 now incorporates protection against spyware through a new combined anti-virus and anti-spyware engine as well as a “safe-searching component” which has been incorporated into the new AVG Internet Security Toolbar. This program scans files on access, on demand, and on schedule and scans email incoming and outgoing. For those on Vista, you’re in luck, it’s Vista-ready

Spyware Doctor Starter Edition

Spyware Doctor Starter Edition from PC Tools is an excellent choice, as a secondary line of defense. This free version of the award winning program, with its easy to use interface, is used by millions of people worldwide to protect their computers; it’s reported there are a million+ additional downloads every week. Be aware however, there is no real-time protection offered with this version and this is the reason I recommend this application as a secondary scanner only.

Spyware Terminator

Having tested virtually all of the major anti-spyware applications over the past year or more, I’ve settled, for now, on Spyware Terminator primarily due to its strong real-time protection against spyware, adware, Trojans, key-loggers, home page hijackers and other malware threats. Spyware Terminator excels in strong active protection against know and unknown threats. If anything, I find it perhaps a little overly aggressive. On the other hand, better this than the alternative.

Comodo Firewall Pro

Comodo Firewall protects your system by defeating hackers and restricting unauthorized programs from accessing the Internet. I have been using this application for 10 months and I continue to feel very secure. It resists being forcibly terminated and it works as well, or better, than any firewall I’ve paid for. This is one I highly recommend. Amazing that it’s free!

HiJackFree

If you are an experienced/advanced computer user and you’re looking for a program to strengthen your anti-malware resources, then HiJackFree is one that’s worth taking a look at. This free application, from EMSI Software, offers a potent layer of additional protection to add to your major anti-malware programs. The program operates as a detailed system analysis tool that can help you in the detection and removal of Hijackers, Spyware, Adware, Trojans, Worms, and other malware. It doesn’t offer live protection but instead, it examines your system, determines if it’s been infected, and then allows you to eradicate the malware.

Ad-Aware 2008

In my view, Ad-Aware 2008 Free is the best free spyware and adware remover available. It does a good job of protecting against known data-mining, Trojans, dialers, malware, browser hijackers and tracking components. The only downside with the free version; real-time protection is not included.

ThreatFire 3

ThreatFire 3 blocks mal-ware, including zero-day threats, by analyzing program behavior and it does a stellar job. Again, this is one of the security applications that forms part of my front line defenses. I have found it to have high success rate at blocking mal-ware based on analysis of behavior. Highly recommend this one!

Web of Trust (WOT)

WOT is a free Internet Browser add-on (my personal favorite), that has established an impressive 4.5/5.0 star user rating on CNET. WOT tests web sites you are visiting for spyware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, unreliable online shops, phishing, and online scams, helping you avoid unsafe web sites.

SnoopFree Privacy Shield

SnoopFree Privacy Shield is a powerful application that guards your keyboard, screen and open windows from all spy software. I have been using this application for quite some time, and I have been amazed at the number of programs that have requested access to my keyboard and screen. In particular, programs that I am in the process of installing. If you’re serious about privacy, this is a must have addition to your security toolbox.

5 Comments

Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Email, Firefox Add-ons, Free Security Programs, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Internet Explorer Add-ons, Internet Safety, Internet Safety Tools, Online Safety, Rogue Software, Safe Surfing, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, System Security, Windows Tips and Tools