Avoiding threats when surfing the web by practicing safe computing skills
You can avoid computer problems including viruses, spam, and spyware, by using simple safety precautions when you connect your computer to the internet. You can begin using the following security actions immediately.
- Configure your critical security software (anti-virus, firewall, Windows Update, and Defender) to check for updates every time the PC establishes a new internet connection.
- Set up and use a Windows account that has limited permissions when connecting to the web. To avoid the unauthorized installation of a malicious program, the Restricted User account in XP, and the Standard User account in Vista provide each account with limited access rights and prevent the silent installation of any programs.
- Configure your Internet Explorer browser to block all pop-ups. If you do want to view a particular popup advertisement, simply hold the Ctrl key when you click on the hot link to temporarily allow the pop-up.
- Read any pop-up messaging carefully before clicking the OK button. Many time the message looks like an official warning to use some program or resolve a problem, but it can be an advertisement encouraging you to purchase some unnecessary program.
- If you receive an official looking message or warning from a company, such as a bank or store where you have shopped, Do Not click any button to respond or verify receipt of the message. Call the company immediately, or open another browser and go to the company's official web site to contact their customer service on the web. Criminals might be trying to steal information using a web URL that is similar to the company's official web address.
- When you download a file, Do Not select Run to install the program from the web. You should select Save and download the file to your hard drive. Then, before you install the program, run your anti-virus program to test the file. To test the file, right-click the file name, and select the Scan for viruses's option.
- Before you install any program, read the End User License Agreements (EULA) carefully. Reputable companies will tell you if they plan to install any adware or other background programs along with the software you want to use.
- To close a popup window in your web browser, click the large X in the upper right hand corner of the window. Do NOT select OK or Ignore or Close buttons within the advertisement, because you have no idea what action is performed behind the button. If there is no X on the pop-up or browser window, press the Alt-F4 keys to close the window.
- Never give out personal information (including e-mail address, home address, phone number, bank account, or credit card number) unless you initiated the contact with the individual or company.Remember, if you just 'stumbled ' upon an ad on the web, or some mystery person sent you a note about a 'special deal ' on the web, you have no way of knowing who owns the web site or how honest they are.
Avoiding threats by protecting your e-mail address
Unscrupulous people can violate your privacy if you carelessly share your e-mail information. The following is an explanation of how criminals can assess your information, and provides tips on what you can do to protect your personal information. Unfortunately, as criminal’s use more sophisticated tools, you need to be more vigilant in your daily activities.
- Chat rooms make easy for people to harvest your e-mail information.Information like your account name and e-mail address are available for anyone to collect when you are messaging in public chat rooms. Also, even if the site says "Private Chat Room ", remember that there is no such thing as 'private' on the internet. On these sites, every keystroke you make can be, and probably is being, recorded.
- Posting comments in newsgroups or forums exposes your e-mail address.E-mail harvesters use software to automatically scour the pages and record postings for e-mail addresses. By compiling your e-mail address and the topics of the forums, the harvester can determine your personal interests and your browsing habits, and then sell your name to marketing firms.
- Posting e-mail address on forum pages will result in even more spam.If an e-mail address with the "@ " sign is posted on the site, the address will be harvested. You can adopt the username AT InternetServiceProvider DOT com convention in writing out e-mail addresses in public forums to prevent harvesting.
- Responding to spam, or requesting that your name be removed from a mailing, will result in even more spam.When you respond to one spam e-mail, the spammers will add your address to every list. If you request that your name be removed, it will be removed from that list - as required by law. However, it probably will be added immediately to several other lists, or sold to other spammers.
- Forwarding a chain letter sends your e-mail to other harvesters.Chain e-mails include the addresses of all senders and receivers - hidden inside the code. E-mail harvesters receive chain letters also, and your address can be added to their list.
Protecting your identity with multiple e-mail addresses
You can protect your identity by using two or more e-mail addresses when you respond to items on the web. You can use one address for your friends and business associates, and use a different address for people and companies you do not know as well. Your ISP can provide you with a limited number of e-mail addresses, but there are many services that allow you to setup multiple free disposable e-mail accounts.
- For the free e-mail account, make up a name with random letters and numbers, rather than using your actual name.
- If the free account gets loaded with spam and other unwanted material, you can close that account or just stop checking it.