Stay Safe on The Internet

Most of us are now spending a large part of our day connected to the Internet. Sadly as we know there are many criminal and malicious people out there that like to either defraud us or simply annoy.

Know Your Enemy

What can we do to protect ourselves from harm? Firstly we need to understand the attacks that we may be subject to. There are the well known virus attacks that are usually simply malicious in that the attacker wants to ruin our computers. Then there are the criminals who want to obtain our credit card or bank account details or even steal our identity for other purposes. In addition to these we find some who want to control our computers who we call Bot Masters. These people infect your computer with a piece of software that allows them to control your computer (unknown to you) and will use it to email without your knowledge or even store information such as illegal pornography. This is dangerous as you could get the blame for having your computer used for illegal activity. One other group that can waste your time are those that send out spoof alerts and fake emails about missing persons, virus warnings and even try and get you to delete real files on your computer claiming that these are a virus.

How to Stay Safe

Make sure that you use a reputable anti-virus and anti spyware system. Only buy a system from a reputable source as the scammers are on the Internet selling fake systems that are controlled by criminals. If you hand over your credit card details you are in trouble!

Keep your systems up to date with preferably a daily update check and scan your computer regularly and I would say at least once a week. Do not open attachments with emails that you are not expecting and be very careful even if they are from people you know as there computer may have been infected and the email sent without their knowledge. I have had a number of these recently from friends with Hotmail addresses that have been compromised. Don’t forward emails that you are asked to forward containing alerts about new virus problems, missing persons and so forth. Check with Hoaxslayer to see if this is a known hoax.

Phishing Emails

The term Phishing has been coined for those that send out emails that appear to have come from a bank, Ebay, Paypal or other institution that requires you to log in to your account. If you click on the email it will take you to a website that is an exact copy of the real site. Once you log in the perpetrators will have your details and will soon cause you harm. Banks never send you emails asking you to log in. Never link to a website like this from an email, you are always best advised to enter the web address yourself into your web browser. A giveaway by these scams is that the web address they link to will contain the name of your bank etc but with a few extra words. For example The Bank of ABC would look like http://details.abcbank.com.

Be Sensible

To avoid being caught out always treat emails, special offers and strangers trying to befriend you with caution just as you would in the street outside, if not more so. The Internet is a great place just as is life outside but be careful as a few people would like to have you as their prey and the damage caused can be huge. With a few simple precautions you can prevent your computer from being infected or taken over and have an enjoyable and productive time online.

Roland Millward
The Entrepreneur Club

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