- Activate Protection.
If your Operating System or software has a Firewall, spam blocker, or other built-in security application, make sure it's turned on. Also activate Spam filtering and other online protection provided by your ISP or e-mail service such as Google, Yahoo or MSN. For Spam, that may not be enough. Use of a Broadband Router to block outside access to your computer is also recommended. Make sure the Firewall is enabled.
- Update and Renew.
Set your Operating System and security software to update automatically. Virus detection, Spam and Spyware programs must be updated regularly to catch the latest threats Be sure to renew your subscription or obtain the latest version when renewal is required to ensure that protection doesn't lapse.
- Use public computers with care.
Avoid using computers at libraries, hotels, or airports for conducting personal or financial business. The same goes for using your own computer at a "hot spot" or other public wireless network.
- Watch what you download.
The myriad of free utilities, games and other software on the Internet can be useful, but many contain Viruses, Spyware and other "Malware". They can also create conflicts with other installed applications. If you must do it, try to download only from well known manufacturers or trusted sites such as www.download.com or www.tucows.com. Avoid music-sharing sites such as Limewire.
- Run Anti-Virus software.
It actually works and you need it. That's true even if you own a Mac. Mac owners face the same problems with Spam and Phishing but because Macs are less prevalent, owners have less to fear from Viruses and Spyware but are not immune to them. Online criminals get less of a return on their investment when targeting Macs. Consider purchasing a "Suite" such as Trend Internet Security or McAfee Internet Security Suite. Suites offer broad, integrated protection against Viruses, Spyware, Phishing, Ad Pop-up blockers, and Privacy and Child Protection Filters. At the very minimum, take advantage of free Anti-virus programs such as AVG or Avira.
- Don't assume a certified site is safe.
Although it's vital to have a secure connection when sending personal information online (indicated by "https" before the Web address and a padlock or other icon on your browser), it's no guarantee the site is reputable. Similarly, certification symbols from the Better Business Bureau, TRUSTe, and similar organizations provide some reassurance; however, they're no substitute for reading the fine print and researching a site by checking online reviews before submitting credit card or other personal information.
- Guard personal information.
Never respond to email requesting your Username, Password, Social Insurance Number, or other personal information, no matter how official it looks. If you are asked to call a telephone number, verify that it matches the contact number given to you by the institution.
- Avoid using hyperlinks in email.
Hyperlinks can show one address but take you to another, official-looking site that you may not be able to distinguish from the real one. If you want to visit the site, verify the address and then type it into your browser address line, or, use a
bookmark or favourite you've already stored in your browser.
- Type carefully.
Make sure you type URLs (web addresses) accurately. Online criminals sometimes create look-alike sites that use common mistyping's of popular URLs to trap unsuspecting users.
- Review your accounts regularly.
Review your credit card and bank statements as soon as you receive them. Report suspicious charges or withdrawals immediately.
Nothing can take the place of a little scepticism and common sense when it comes to protecting yourself from online threats. If an email or other message looks suspicious, don't open it or respond to it. Delete it. There is no one internet security product that can block all Malware threats.
Periodically scan your computer with one of the free products or online scanning tools to make sure there isn't something hiding on your computer.
Make sure you backup your personal information and photographs. You won't lose these personal items if you have your Viruses cleaned by an experienced, qualified professional, but in the event of a hardware failure, you may.
You will never have to replace your computer because of "Malware" infections.
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Contributed by CompuAbility with material from Anti-virus Manufacturers, government websites, and various publications. ComputAbility has been supplying high quality computing products and services to Burlington and area residents and businesses since 1993.