Google+ Badge

Monday, April 22, 2013

Internet Security: Why It’s Important

In today’s world, the internet is one of the most popular tools that you can use to buy goods and services. It is considered as one of the most useful tools that people make use of. The internet have proved to be a very good venue that you can use for communication and with this, you can now purchase goods and services from the companies you can find in the internet today.

It is also a great tool to start your own online business and make transactions. With the fast and cheap communication that the internet provides, you would definitely want to get connected in the internet to make money or make life easier for you.

However, with all the advantages of the internet, there are also disadvantages. Because financial dealings are made in the internet on a daily basis, it is also considered that millions or even trillions of dollars are being exchanged in the internet everyday. This spawned a new group of criminals that would do anything to steal money from you by just using the internet.

These cyber criminals develop programs or software that invades your personal computer through the internet, will start gathering information inside your computer that may include your financial and personal information and send it automatically to the person who developed the software.

The thought of letting a stranger look at your personal and financial information without you knowing about it can definitely make you cringe in fear. With this information, the cyber criminals will be able to steal money from you by committing a very serious crime called identity theft or identity fraud.

They will also use your personal and financial information to pretend to be you and commit cons that may get you into trouble with the law without even knowing about it.

It is a fact that many people have been victimized by identity theft which has resulted in losing a lot of money or facing criminal cases they didn’t even commit. This is why it is very important for you to secure yourself from these crimes not just in the real world, but also in the cyber world or in the internet.

You can stop these crimes from happening to you by simply installing the best kind of internet security software available. Internet security softwares are a group of programs that can combat modern day threats in the internet, such as computer viruses, spyware, adware, and hackers. It is a program that will help you protect your computer from being invaded by the malicious software circulating the internet today and gain access to your files that may contain your personal and financial information.

Today, it is considered a necessity to have this kind of software in your computer in order to better protect you and your family from cyber criminals who are looking for a way to steal money from you.

Good internet security software should include:

•    Antivirus – This particular program should be included in your internet security software to protect you against viruses that are circulating the internet today. It should also have automatic update features in order to better protect you from the new viruses that keep on popping out in the internet.

•    Anti spyware/adware – Spyware and adware are very dangerous programs that can give the developer access to your files in your computer that may contain financial and personal information. This is why this feature should be included in the internet security software and should also be updateable.

•    Firewall – This particular program will prevent viruses and hackers from entering your computer.

•    Parental control – This program should be included in your internet security software especially if you have kids in order to control their internet activities and prevent them from visiting websites that may contain violence or pornography.

Securing Your Computer System

Today, more and more people are using their computers for everything from communication to online banking and investing to shopping. As we do these things on a more regular basis, we open ourselves up to potential hackers, attackers and crackers. While some may be looking to phish your personal information and identity for resale, others simply just want to use your computer as a platform from which to attack other unknowing targets. Below are a few easy, cost-effective steps you can take to make your computer more secure.

1. Always make backups of important information and store in a safe place separate from your computer.

2. Update and patch your operating system, web browser and software frequently. If you have a Windows operating system, start by going to www.windowsupdate.microsoft.com and running the update wizard. This program will help you find the latest patches for your Windows computer. Also go to www.officeupdate.microsoft.com to locate possible patches for your Office programs.

3. Install a firewall. Without a good firewall, viruses, worms, Trojans, malware and adware can all easily access your computer from the Internet. Consideration should be given to the benefits and differences between hardware and software based firewall programs.

4. Review your browser and email settings for optimum security. Why should you do this? Active-X and JavaScript are often used by hackers to plant malicious programs into your computers. While cookies are relatively harmless in terms of security concerns, they do still track your movements on the Internet to build a profile of you. At a minimum set your security setting for the “internet zone” to High, and your “trusted sites zone” to Medium Low.

5. Install antivirus software and set for automatic updates so that you receive the most current versions.

6. Do not open unknown email attachments. It is simply not enough that you may recognize the address from which it originates because many viruses can spread from a familiar address.

7. Do not run programs from unknown origins. Also, do not send these types of programs to friends and coworkers because they contain funny or amusing stories or jokes. They may contain a Trojans horse waiting to infect a computer.

8. Disable hidden filename extensions. By default, the Windows operating system is set to “hide file extensions for known file types”. Disable this option so that file extensions display in Windows. Some file extensions will, by default, continue to remain hidden, but you are more likely to see any unusual file extensions that do not belong.

9. Turn off your computer and disconnect from the network when not using the computer. A hacker can not attack your computer when you are disconnected from the network or the computer is off.

Consider making a boot disk on a floppy disk in case your computer is damaged or compromised by a malicious program. Obviously, you need to take this step before you experience a hostile breach of your system.

Phishing For Your Identity

Who hasn’t received an email directing them to visit a familiar website where they are being asked to update their personal information? The website needs you to verify or update your passwords, credit card numbers, social security number, or even your bank account number. You recognize the business name as one that you’ve conducted business with in the past. So, you click on the convenient “take me there” link and proceed to provide all the information they have requested. Unfortunately, you find out much later that the website is bogus. It was created with the sole intent to steal your personal information. You, my friend, have just been “phished”.

Phishing (pronounced as “fishing”) is defined as the act of sending an email to a recipient falsely claiming to have an established, legitimate business. The intent of the phisher is to scam the recipient into surrendering their private information, and ultimately steal your identity.

It is not at easy as you think to spot an email phishing for information. At first glance, the email may look like it is from a legitimate company. The "From" field of the e-mail may have the .com address of the company mentioned in the e-mail. The clickable link even appears to take you to the company's website, when in fact, it is a fake website built to replicate the legitimate site.

Many of these people are professional criminals. They have spent a lot of time in creating emails that look authentic. Users need to review all emails requesting personal information carefully. When reviewing your email remember that the "From Field" can be easily changed by the sender. While it may look like it is coming from a .com you do business with, looks can be deceiving. Also keep in mind that the phisher will go all out in trying to make their email look as legitimate as possible. They will even copy logos or images from the official site to use in their emails. Finally, they like to include a clickable link that the recipient can follow to conveniently update their information.

A great way to check the legitimacy of the link is to point at the link with your mouse. Then, look in the bottom left hand screen of your computer. The actual website address to which you are being directed will show up for you to view. It is a very quick and easy way to check if you are being directed to a legitimate site.

Finally, follow the golden rule. Never, ever, click the links within the text of the e-mail, and always delete the e-mail immediately. Once you have deleted the e-mail, empty the trash box in your e-mail accounts as well. If you are truly concerned that you are missing an important notice regarding one of your accounts, then type the full URL address of the website into your browser. At least then you can be confident that you are, in fact, being directed to the true and legitimate website.

What Not to Put in Your Social Network Profile

Online social networks have rapidly increased in popularity, especially over the past couple of years.  Social networking websites are popular because they easily allow you to find, connect with, and develop friendships with other internet users, often ones that share the same interests as you. To find those individuals, you must join a social networking website and create a profile.  It is often advertised that your social networking profile is the key to making and finding friends online.

As previously mentioned, your social networking profile is important when it comes to meeting other internet users. This is because, in most cases, internet users are looking to chat with someone who has the same goals, views, beliefs, and interests as they do.  Without a personal profile, it would be difficult or impossible to tell what your interests are. That is why social networking profiles are not only important, but they are needed.

When it comes to social networking profiles, a lot of focus has been placed on what you should include in your profile or display on your profile page. It has been said that pictures produce the best responses, as well as detailed personal information.  Although a picture and detailed personal information may help to increase your page views, you may be getting views that you do not necessarily want.  Despite what you may believe, most social networking websites do not have restrictions on who can view your personal profile.  In fact, internet users, even those that do not belong to your online community, can easily see profile.

Since anyone, literally anyone, can see your social networking profile, on most social networking websites, you are advised to be cautious. Essentially, this means that instead of focusing on what you should put in your online profile, you should be focusing on what not to put.  This is one the best ways to protect your safety, both on and offline. 

As previously mentioned, pictures are often recommended with social networking websites. If you are interested in positing a personal picture of yourself in your online profile you can do so, but you are advised to carefully choose that picture.  While you will want to look your best, you are advised against posting a picture that is too revealing or seductive in nature.  Most internet users can look at these types of pictures without feeling a thing, but for others these types of pictures spell danger.

If you make the decision to post a picture of yourself in your social networking website profile, you need to be careful about the rest of the information that you post.  Although you may not necessarily think about it, a picture is just a picture, but combined with your name and address, it could be a deadly combination. You are advised to only post your first name in your profile. This will make it more difficult for anyone to try and contact you off of the internet. 

It is also advised that you carefully choose your location.  A large number of online social networking sites require that you select a city, as well as a state. If it is allowed, you may only wish to list your state and not the city.  If you are required to list the city and the state that you live in, you may want to think about using a nearby city or town, especially if you live in a small town. If an internet predator wanted to contact you and you lived in a small town, it could be fairly easy for them to find you. That is why it is advised that you carefully select the answer to the location question.

In addition to the above precautionary measures, it is advised that you do not post detailed information on your children, the location of your home, your income, or when you will be leaving for vacation.  By keeping these and the above mentioned points in mind, you should be able to enjoy online social networking without having to always look behind your back.