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|Internet Security - the basics...|
What will you lose today?
Identity? money? data? buisness? or all of them? Take these simple steps to secure your computer, data, identity & sensitive account details
On-line security requires the correct approach, not 'dont go to any dodgy web sites' a PC is easily compromised visiting a legitamate website with malicious scripts injected into it or from 'drive by' downloads for example. Installed malware may keylog your bank account details or send spam. Theres good online advice from sites like get safe on line . But Internet security is a very fast moving target where the correct discipline is vital. Recently a PC connected to the Internet was completely owned in 30 seconds demonstrating the vulnerability of Windows. The windows UAC in Vista & 7 gets turned off in frustration. New & advanced stealth techniques of infection are evolving, even featuring software to remove competing viruses and deploy silently with no sign of attack are constantly evolving.
Dont forget data security, regretably the last useless, ineffective government failed to protect the identity of 25 million people then failed to listen to a group of peers with some good ideas for dealing with e-crime. Labours heads firmly in the sand, failed to realise the consequences of their ill conceived folly, particually those associated with ID cards and worse still, medical records may pose. It is appalling, every few days a government laptop, with sensitive unencrypted data will be lost. Its easy to secure confidential data with TrueCrypt or Cypherix and keep your private information private, forever.
The steps below will significantly harden your defences & raise awareness to exploits:
1. Secure your web browser - avoid Internet Explorer - its the hackers best friend!
Most security problems Ive repaired are usually attributed to Internet Explorer, its lack of security via active X plug ins and other sloppy coding is legendary, so dump IE. There are much better web browsers. Whilst a completely secure web browser is difficult to achieve, it can be improved with the steps below.
Beware & avoid browser toolbars - they are often poorly programmed with exploits, some even come with malware pre-installed - dont install them & remove them if you have.
2. Use the best anti virus & anti spyware software you can buy, note 'buy', freeware is better than nothing, paid versions perform better & development needs funding.
Only a fool would not deploy a first class antivirus software to protect their PC along with a good malware/spyware scanner. The free offerings just dont cut it anymore, so upgrade & get the best, we have tested, deploy & strongly recommend:
Keep your AV & spyware applications up to date - at least daily and renew your subscriptions when required.
Beware of scareware - These are rogue websites make you think you have a virus infection - its just presents an image but it looks real enough, it then appears to 'run' a fake AV scan & 'finds' other (false) viruses - also just an image, they then try and trick you into buying useless software that does nothing or installs a rel virus. The screen dumps all look very real. Theres a chance your credit card details may be stolen as well. Make sure you only run your vendors AV software or if you do an on-line scan its from a trusted source such as the ESET one.
3. Secure your E-mail
Use a more secure e-mail client - Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express are vulnerable to attack. Outlook Express is no longer supported and should be replaced. Use an open source email client such as Mozilla Thunderbird or The Bat.
Beware 'social engineering' - No, you did not win the Nigerian lottery or have a long lost relatives who wishes to transfer the sum of several million dollars to you! - BEWARE Email or messages similar to these:
Please refrain from forwarding jokes it may be funny, but that dosnt justify forwarding it to your entire in-box. Please consider the consequences as you broadcast your address book to an e-mail which could be read the world over & addresses harvested by a spammer. Such messages can also contain malware or malicious scripts, the text 'scanned free from viruses' meaningless, if its been forwarded several times. The same applies to chain e-mails, just delete them. If anyone persistenlty sends you jokes & other rubbish, just send them this hopefully they will get the message.
Windows has a nasty vulnerablity in its file naming although I informed Microsoft some years ago, it seems yet to be addressed. By default, Windows hides the file extension, (.exe .bat .doc etc) a virus author can change the file name from document.doc to document.doc.exe . The last three letters are hidden from view, you think you have a .doc word document attachment but its a .exe executable. This has been successfully exploited several times. Microsoft play into the hands of malware & virus writers. Go to Windows Explorer, tools, Folder Options, View tab - in the list remove the tick from 'Hide extensions for known file types' & click OK. Emailed attachments will be shown with the correct extension & you have a chance of spotting a malformed file should you receive one.
4. Secure your Internet connection
Important areas to consider:
Consider security in layers, you need one software firewall, one antivirus program & one spyware scanner, pick the best, which makes ESET smart security a good choice if the rest is too daunting.
Peer file sharing - File sharing services blow gaping holes in your security, do not use insecure peer file sharing software, what you download may also be illegal copy write material, so get rid of them.
Windows automatic updates - Im really undecided on this one. Ive seen automatic updates do more damage than a virus! for example: servers that wont boot, computers that cannot connect to the Internet & so on. Of course Microsoft & other support sites will advise their use. Ultimately it depends how much you trust it to work every time, against the vulnerability of your system.
Use a hosts file - this hosts file in locate in your C:\windows\system32\drivers\etc directory helps prevent visiting rogue web sites.