People store valuable information on their computers in all kinds of formats, such as documents, images, sound, and video. What if someone could break into your computer with or without you and steal that information? Well, hackers, phreakers, crackers, and even the most novice hackers can log into your personal life and cause a world of minute trouble. This article will provide the general user with principles for developing safe computing habits to prevent these criminals from having the opportunity to illegally access information. Let’s start with the first principle, a rule of thumb for internet security.
If it sounds too good to be true, IT IS! Email scams happen to millions of computer users every day. An email coming from an African prince who leaves his fortune in his trust is not likely to be the real case. There are a myriad of such scams out there that promise eternal happiness and wealth beyond your wildest dreams, or perhaps it’s a big-ticket item that’s “free.” These offers are often too good to be true, so it’s best to stay away from all of them.
Do not download unless you are sure. It’s a good rule of thumb to only download what you need to have, and only from trusted websites. The fact that a site is linked to a trusted website does not always mean that the content on the third party website is also trusted. Be careful with downloads such as freeware, trialware, codecs from third-party websites, and especially email or instant message attachments with attachments. Never download anything from somewhere you don’t trust 100%. Downloads from questionable websites usually mean that you will need a spyware or virus removal service in the near future.
Be observant. Phishing is becoming a popular Internet security term. To break it down, it means someone is tricking you into giving them your password. Always check the URL of the website you are visiting. Phishers like to replace the letters of popular websites with other letters or numbers that make the fake website look identical to the real website you are trying to access. For example, a website that uses the letter “l” can easily be faked using the number “1”.
Do not access private data on public computers. It could be so easy for a malicious computer user to install a file that could record every keystroke you make on the computer you’re using. Think about the information you could provide them. Usernames, passwords, emails or private messages, and the list goes on. Also, NEVER save your password or email address on any public computer, even if it has a login prompt. This information is saved internally by the browser and can be retrieved later. And last but not least, don’t shop online on public computers. Credit card information is one of the most sought after pieces of information in the computer criminal underworld.
Following simple to use principles can save you a lot of time, money, and stress. So remember the four principles outlined in this article, and you’ll have one of the cybercriminals that would take advantage of you if you gave them the chance.