Staying Safe Online
Posted: 380 days ago in: Uncategorized
(yes, I know, another Dilbert. Couldn’t resist!)
By far the most common reason customers contact us is because their computer has been infected by a virus. We often shake our heads at the stuff we find on PC’s – in general, people seem to struggle keeping viruses, malware and spyware at bay. The impact can be quite serious; whilst most ‘baddies’ can be removed often the harm is done and it has left your system damaged. And there is no knowing what information may have been sent to someone, somewhere in cyberspace.
Can viruses be completely prevented? Unfortunately, much like with a real life virus, not really. Hackers are usually a step or two ahead of the virus detection/protection developers.
However, much like with a real life virus, you can take some basic steps to protect yourself. Take your vitamins, stay away from coughing and sneezing people, wash your hands and there is no reason why you couldn’t download stuff, buy things on eBay, email, play online games, pay your bills via netbank and
waste spend time on Facebook / Pinterest / Twitter without too much of a worry. It just takes some simple guidelines and a healthy dose of common sense.
(On a side note: I came across a one-liner the other day that made me laugh: “Sometimes when my internet is down I forget that the rest of my computer still works”. I have to confess that applies to me too. Hi, my name is Trude and I am an internet addict I think the internet is a truly amazing place. I have had so many great experiences online, learnt a lot, laughed often, cried sometimes and made some lovely (and real!) friends. And as such, it saddens me when people are scared of the internet… they’re missing out! )
But back to staying safe online. Here are our top 5 tips:
1) Protect your PC: activate your firewall, make sure you install updates and service packs, have a good anti-virus program (at the moment, we like BitDefender), run regular malware scans and registry cleaners and every once in a while review and clean up your programs list.
2) Be careful with downloads. Download only from sites that are trustworthy and established. If you’re downloading software, do it from the source website (i.e. Microsoft updates from the Microsoft site) or a reputable site like Ninite.com. Many programs (in particular freeware) come with all kinds of stuff you really don’t need or want, like annoying toolbars. Don’t blindly click next-next-next when you install, but read first – you can often opt out of these extras in the installation process. And needless to say: if you download questionable or pirated files, you are at a much greater risk.
4) Think before you click. Does it make sense for your bank to ask you to confirm your credit card number? Do you really think you are the 5000th visitor to a website and you’ve won a holiday? Could you have a distant relative in Africa who has left you money? Would your friend send you a link or .exe file without explaining what it is? It doesn’t hurt to be a little bit suspicious. If it looks too good to be true, it generally is.
5) Check for signs of security especially when you’re dealing with confidential or financial information. Does the website have a security certificate ? Do they use encryption? When you are asked to provide sensitive information, is the connection secure (check for https in the address and the lock icon in your browser)? And last but not least, use appropriate passwords. Don’t use the same password for everything, make sure your passwords are strong and please: don’t list all your passwords in an excel file on your desktop named ‘passwords’. (don’t laugh, it happens!)
Of course, this is just a quick summary. We can (and will!) go into a lot more detail on all of these topics over coming months. Watch this space.
Or, if you’re in Young and surrounds, you are more than welcome to come along to our first free community info night where we will talk about internet safety, especially for families. This will take place on Tuesday June 26, at 7.30pm at Bluestill Cafe, 161 Henry Lawson Way in Young. Just let us know you’re coming by June 22 so we can make sure we’ll have enough biccies
Until then, there’s Google. Or YouTube. You’d be amazed how much you can learn about online safety…online! Happy internetting