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There are two rules for success:
1) Never tell everything you know.

Roger H. Lincoln

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Things you can do to keep safe while surfing

  1. You need to have good, up to date FIREWALL software installed on your PC.
  2. Most computers that come straight from a retailer will have a personal FIREWALL installed as standard. You could be infected within minutes of going online without any security protection. If you are buying a new computer, try to make sure that a robust FIREWALL comes with the software bundle. You can always update to a stronger version, or an alternative, but you need to have protection in place right from the beginning. It is not advisable to run two different firewalls at once, because they can conflict with each other. If you want our picks on the best free and payware FIREWALLS, check out the comparative analysis on our Software Downloads page.

  3. You MUST have installed a strong Trojan Virus Detection Scanner . (With updates that are current)
  4. Along with the Firewall a Malware Scanner makes up the second absolutely essential component in a robust security system. Check how the virus scanner you are using updates. If you are using a free version, updates may not necessarily be automatic. You may need to set a recurring reminder in Outlook or similar to remind when an update is due.

  5. Keep your Microsoft security patches up to date.
  6. This goes for Windows security patch updates, which can be downloaded from the Microsoft Download Center. To set the updates to action automatically:
    Click Start, and then click Control Panel.
    Depending on which Control Panel view you use, Classic or Category, do one of the following:
    Click System, and then click the Automatic Updates tab.
    Click Performance and Maintenance, click System, and then click the Automatic Updates tab.
    Click the option that you want. Make sure Automatic Updates is not turned off.

    We would suggest setting your automatic updates for at least once a week.

  7. Take care what sites you visit.
  8. There are some types of websites that are notorious for infecting your machine with trojans, spyware, and adware. Some common culprits are:

    • Porn Sites
      Some internet pornography sites will try to prompt/entice/force you to revisit. It is possible that without your knowledge, they may even add a bookmark to your favourites list or put a link on a toolbar. ( If someone else finds the link you may have some explaining to do ! Be careful is all we will say. )

    • Fake Internet Security Sites
      We cover this topic in more detail in Beware of Rogue Software but if you ever get a pop-up screen appear prompting you to download a program immediately to safeguard your PC be very suspicious !!

      Some may even appear to automatically run a (bogus) scan of your system without your authorization and advise that viruses, trojans and spyware have been detected so Download Now etc., etc. Don't fall for this, but do be careful closing out of the screen, as the X in the top right hand corner may be programmed to open another window so use Alt plus F4 to quit out of the active window or application.

    • Freeware & Shareware
      There is a lot of excellent free stuff on the internet but sometimes you get more than you thought you were getting so to take advantage of free-to-use files and applications you need to have a robust internet security software defense system and adhere to safe download practices. Download to FILE ( the save to disc not the open option. )

      Use a common destination folder which you can navigate to easily and once the download is finished scan the file on demand. Preferably use two trojan scanners, maybe one commercialware complemented by a good freeware software.

  9. Be careful with Peer-to-Peer file sharing programs (used for downloads of music and movies).
  10. We do not condone or encourage the unauthorised distribution of copyright protected material because it is a form of stealing. And of course we realise that only a proportion of shared files breach copyrights but from the point of view of Internet Security it is worth mentioning file sharing because is a very common way for malware to be spread. There are a few simple rules to follow here:
    • Don't accept files from strangers!
    • Even from people you do know, never assume their attachments are safe. Always scan them before running them.
    • Learn your file extensions. Common format picture files are .jpg, .gif, .png, .tif. They will never have an executable file extension such as .exe, or if you see ANY file with a double extension such as .jpg.exe, be very suspicious. The last extension is the one your system will execute.

      If you are unsure of a file extension, check it out on Smart Computing.

  11. Use a process monitor to check what software is active at startup, and while you are on the internet.
  12. It is a good idea to become familiar with the programs that run on your computer. If you have a general understanding of which programs you see running all the time, you will be able to more easily recognise a rogue program when you see it.

    A good process monitor is essential for this. The Microsoft built-in Windows Task Manager gives you an overview of programs running and allows you to shut some of them down, but to really get a handle on what's on your system, we recommend Diamond CS Deep System Explorer.

  13. Handling Email attachments.
  14. Once again, don't accept a file from someone you don't know. Always scan attachments before opening, even if they are from trusted friends. It is possible your friend has been unknowingly infected and is being used as a stooge to send out malicious software.

    Pictures cannot end in .exe. Don't believe anyone who says they can.

    While most ISPs these days are getting better at eliminating a large proportion of the spam that would otherwise be landing in your inbox, you will always get a few. Most of these are easy to recognise - apart from the odd email addresses they come from, they seem to concentrate on certain subject matters with unvarying, nauseous regularity. NEVER reply to any of these emails. It only confirms to the spammer that they sent their email to a correct address. And certainly never open any of their attachments.

  15. Password/PIN code security
  16. A password manager stores your information in an encrypted format on your hard drive or a server. While this may seem dangerous to some, it is probably preferable to having your passwords written down elsewhere. There are a few free password managers around, as well as commercial versions. See our Software Downloads page for more information.

  17. Credit card security.
  18. When purchasing goods or services over the net, there are a few basic security rules.

    1. The website address should begin with https, not just http, indicating it is a secure site.
    2. Look for the "secured by" certificate, using companies such as Comodo, or Thwarte, and there should be a small padlock at the bottom of the page, which also indicates it is an encrypted site.
    3. Does the company have a physical address and phone number you ring? While there is a chance these can be bogus as well, it does provide one more link in testing the security and trustability of a site.
    4. Set up a Paypal account. It makes payment easy and secure.

  19. Information you give out to various sites.
  20. BE CAREFUL what questions you answer. Is it necessary you tell them all the information they are asking? If in doubt, leave the site.

Check out these additional good tips on Tech Monkeys.

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