Internet Security Best Practices

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In a world where everything can happen on the web, security is always the first priority. Everything happens so fast, and in just one click, you can get what you want. In spite of this convenience in just a click, you can get exactly what you don’t want.

While the previous chapters went into specific detail about certain aspects of protecting yourself online, the below list, is a snapshot at some of the other best practices you should be following.

1. Use Parental Controls – If you have children who use the internet, it is important to set your parental controls, so they won’t be allowed to access unauthorized sites. This will also keep them away from adult sites and pornography. The use of parental controls will help keep curious eyes away from potentially dangerous websites.

2. Secure Your Browser – Your browser is the tool you use to get on the internet. It can also be your first line of defense. Mozilla makes a very popular web browser, called Firefox. Firefox has a ton of add-ons that can help you protect yourself. My two favorite are AdBlockPlus and NoScript. AdBlockPlus will block many annoying and potentially dangerous ads. NoScript will block any type of scripts from loading in the background of a website.

3. Use Good Passwords – We went into this in great detail, but it is worth mentioning again. You control your passwords, control them properly.

4. Avoid Nefarious Areas of the Web - If you are dealing with pornography, or illegal downloads, serial cracks etc... you better be careful. I am not even considering the legal aspect, I speak solely about your web security. These areas are bad news and breeding grounds for viruses and spyware.

5. Consider Apple Products - I am not a company shill, and I am not saying the premium price is worth it, but if you are really word about viruses - get a Mac. There are just waaaaay less viruses and spyware for Macs. That could change and probably will - but for now it is definitely a safer platform.

6. Be Careful With Your Personal Information - Unless you want Viagra ads emailed to you 7000 times a day, you better be careful where you give out your email. Same thing goes for your phone number and address. Some online businesses will require this for purchase, and that is OK, however make sure it is a reputable site. Also, don’t give up personal info like that for some trinket, or “FREE” report. If you do want to sign up for that stuff, create an email account just for it.

7. Practice Safe Browsing - Do not browse without protection - this comes in the form of an anti virus program. We went into detail about this in a past chapter.

8. Be Careful With “Toolbars” - A lot of programs you download will offer you the option of also installing a toolbar. Avoid these. Even if they don’t include spyware (and many do) they bog down your browser.

9. If it is Too Good to be True it Probably is - The classic adage, it is self explanatory.

10. Be Careful with Thumb Drives - Be careful where you use portable thumb drives. If you use them on an unprotected computer, a virus can copy itself there and then infect your computer next time you plug it in.

11. Don’t Open Unsolicited Email Attachments - Don’t open any email attachments you didn’t expect coming. This is a classic way to send viruses. Remember, even if it is someone you trust, it doesn’t mean they sent the email. Hackers often use other people’s emails to send harmful attachments. If you get an attachment and you aren’t sure if it is legit or not - ask the sender.

12. Run Your Anti-Virus Regularly - Yeah I know it takes forever to scan, and sometimes it slows your computer down - but do it. It is important to make sure you find any viruses as soon as possible. You can usually set it to auto run at times when you don’t need the computer.

13. Updates Your Anti-Virus Regularly - Your anti-virus program has a database of known viruses, and how to fix them. Since new viruses are coming out daily, this database needs to be updated regularly.

14. Make Sure Site is Secure Before Giving Sensitive Information - Before submitting anything like bank or credit card information, make sure the site you are on is a secure connection. Check out the address bar of your web browser, if the site really is secure there should be an s after the http (https://). There should also be a lock icon somewhere in the address bar, this will tell you what level of encryption the site uses.

Remember though, while this might mean the data you send the website is encrypted and secure, it doesn’t mean the site itself is legit.

If you want to dramatically reduce the chances of your home computer being infected, or your personal information being compromised, please follow all of the above tips.

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