Web Security 101

by Genevieve Peterson …..

web security tips

Securing your computer and your use of the Internet from outside hackers, cybercriminals, identity thieves and other shady characters is a must these days.

The sad fact is that most people don’t follow even the most basic security practices, making them a prime target.
Here are some basic web security practices that everybody should follow:

Log-in Pages Need to Be Encrypted
When traveling to websites you haven’t used before or are uncertain of their security, look for the prefix “https:/” rather than simply “http:/”: The additional “S” indicates that the site uses security measures, like an SSL Certificate to encrypt data in transit.

Protect Your Computer from Viruses and other Malware

Use up to date antivirus software to prevent your computer or devices from being infected by malware. The best options are antivirus programs that perform automatic updates without prompting the user to install them. This is because the number and types of computer viruses infecting computers worldwide are constantly changing and adapting to existing antivirus. Software designers are always writing new code for the most up to date antivirus programs, but they don’t do any good if they aren’t installed on your computer before it is hit with malware. Here’s a list of good anti-virus programs.

Keep Your Web Browser Updated
While most updates to web browsers like Google’s Chrome are distributed to make fixes and remove bugs in the program, they also include the most recent antivirus protections to address malware directed at their specific apps. Don’t wait until it’s convenient to install the latest version on your computer or it might be too late.

Pay Attention to How Your Computer Is Acting
If you notice any unusual computer activity or other problems, shut it down and restart it immediately. You may be able to shut down malware or a virus before it gets a chance to install itself on your computer or mobile device.

Install and Maintain a Firewall on your Computer
A firewall helps block unauthorized access to your computer while still permitting outward communication. It establishes a barrier between a trusted, secure legal network and the unknown sites on the Internet. Firewalls can be either software that you download onto your computer or some sort of hardware that is built into your computer’s CPU. Most newer Mac and PC operating systems come with a built-in software-based firewall. If yours does, make sure it’s turned on and stays turned on. Some malware programs are designed to automatically turn off firewalls and shut down antivirus security programs.

Use Browsers with Updated Security Features

The latest versions of Google Chrome and other popular browsers feature such safety features as pop-up blockers, anti-spam programs and others that will help protect your computer from malware and viruses. Update your browser every time a new version is released. Or, better yet, change your settings so that your computer is setup for automatic updates.

Don’t Store Sensitive Material on Your Computer

Do you have a Word file on which you have all of your passwords, account log-ins, and even bank routing numbers, accounts and credit card numbers collected in one place? If so, you are asking for trouble because files like this are the first thing hackers look for. Print off a copy of this file and keep it somewhere safe, like a fireproof safe or in your freezer (where it is safe from fire, water damage and weather events). Then delete this file from your computer immediately. Then go into the “Trash” folder and delete it from there, too. Another option is to password-protect and encrypt the file (you can easily locate options for your computer on any search engine).

Don’t Use Dumb Passwords

It’s astonishing how many people use easy to guess passwords for some of their most sensitive log-ins. “Password” is a bad password. So is the name of your children, pets or your street address. Try to come up with passwords that can be recalled but that include at least one capital letter, numbers and a typographical symbol such as an exclamation point (!), an asterix (*) or an ampersand (&).

Don’t Open Links Sent from IMs and Email Attachments

Your smart phone and other mobile devices are just as susceptible to hacking as your PC or laptop. It’s a natural impulse to open an attachment you get sent to you in a text or Instant Message, but don’t do it unless you are 100 percent positive it is safe. These can include executable programs that begin downloading the moment you click on them. If you get something you weren’t expecting or from somebody you don’t know, leave it alone.

Other basic tips include being suspicious of any emails or websites that make an offer that seems too good to be true, such as a tablet for just $.99. In many cases, these are scams or include malware. Using basic common sense is often your best defense against Internet villains.

Genevieve Peterson working for AnonymousVPNService.com, an independent VPN service provider review website. Whether you are always on the road and using unknown networks or you’re simply concerned about protecting your identity online, Golden Frog’s Vypr VPN Speed and privacy features are designed to leave you spellbound.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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