2013/06/12

Beware of strangers with candy.

Just as that has always been as good rule to help guide you safely through life, there are also simple rules to help protect you and you home computer while surfing the internet.
By following a few simple guidelines as well as a few precautions you should be safe from the vast majority of dangerous threats you will encounter on the internet.
Precautions: (Safety measures)

  • Use a host-based firewall.  On Windows, the built-in firewall works fine.
  • Use a anti-virus detection application.  On Windows, the free Microsoft Security Essentials application works fine.
  • Enable automatic download and installation of operating system patches and updates.
  • When possible, try to update all of your other programs (firefox, adobe, etc...) to the latest stable versions.

Internet Guidelines:
  • Do not go to suspicious websites.  (i.e. such as URLs from China ".cn" and Russia ".ru".  Nothing against the countries themselves, but a lot of malicious activities originate from those internet domains.)
  • If the website says that you need to install special software in order to view the site, do not do it.  Unless it is adobe or java, it is a safe bet that it is a malicious program that they want you to install.  Even if it is adobe or java, you should go to the products website to download and install the program instead of following a link on the webpage.
  • Practice safe information handling:
    • Do not post anything to the internet (Facebook, chat, IM, Myspace, Linkedin, blog, etc...) that you do not want to be viewed by everyone.  Once something is on the internet, it is there forever and eventually will be viewable by anyone.
    • Do not provide your password(s) to anyone.  No valid customer support will require you to provide them your password.  They already have it.
    • For each internet/website account you have (email, Facebook, banking, etc...) use a different password.  This makes it much more difficult for someone to get your banking information if they happen to get you Facebook password.
  • Practice safe email handling.  It is best if you...
    • Do not open (or preview) emails from people you do not know.
    • Do not click on any link contained within an email.  You must use the link due to something such as an activation code, retype the link into a new web browser window.
    • Do not open any document (.pdf, .doc, .xls, etc...) attached to an email.  It can be a malicious document that could install dangerous software onto you system.
    • Do not respond to spam or scams.  If you receive an offer in an email, and it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!!!
    • Do not email personal information (SSNs, credit card numbers, etc...).