TOP 11 TIPS FOR SAFE SURFING
Probably the greatest threat to the security of your computer
system is.... human behavior. Let's face it, we humans do
stupid things! A majority of the viruses, bugs, spyware, spam
and other nasties can be avoided or reduced by modifying our
behavior on the Internet. Read the following 11 suggestions
for practicing safe surfing:
1. Do not visit shady looking web sites. (You know the ones I
2. Do not click on links in pop-up windows. Even if they tell
you that your pc is infected or has a problem that you must
fix immediately! It's a scam. Internet Explorer, Firefox and
Opera browsers feature pop-up blockers -- be sure to turn them
3. Do not click on links in emails. If you really wish to
visit the site shown, type it in the address bar of your web
browser by hand. It's probably a good idea when entering the
web address to ignore any characters to the right of .com (or
.net, .org, etc.).
4. Do not respond to spam (junk email) -- just delete it. If
you respond, then you are telling the spammer that he has
reached a valid email address. Never click on any links that
say something like "To unsubscribe, click here". That's just
what they want you to do.
5. Do not respond to or click on links in emails that look
exactly like email from your bank, credit card company, retail
stores, insurance companies, etc.. This is called phishing.
Phishing is the act of sending an email to a user falsely
claiming to be a legitimate enterprise? This is an attempt to
scam the user into surrendering private information that will
be used for identity theft. The email directs the user to
visit a web site where they are asked to update personal
information, such as passwords and credit card, social
security, and bank account numbers, that the legitimate
organization already has. The web site is bogus and set up
only to steal the user's information. Once you visit their
site, they'll try to get private data from you, like
passwords. These web sites can look identical to your own
trusted sites. If you really wish to visit the site shown,
type it in the address bar of your web browser by hand. When
in doubt, call the institution on the phone.
6. Do not open attachments in emails, even from friends.
Certain viruses can access someone's address book and copy the
email addresses found there. Then they can send you email that
looks exactly like it came from your Aunt Tilly using a
technique called address spoofing. If you need someone to
email you an attachment, make sure they tell you about it
first or request it from them in advance.
7. Do not use your home or primary email address to fill out
forms or subscribe to services on the Internet. Get a free
email account from Google or Yahoo for these purposes.
8. Shop online from reputable companies only. It's safe to use
your credit card to pay for purchases online at any store as
long as when you check out, you see a little gold lock in the
lower right corner of your browser. This means that the
transaction is secure. If you don't see this lock -- DO NOT
CONTINUE WITH THE PURCHASE! The lock is not just a picture.
Click on it to see details of the site's security. This is
important because some fraudulent web sites will imitate the
lock icon of your browser. It's also a good idea to use the
same credit card for all of your online shopping. If there is
ever a problem, all you have to do is cancel that one card.
9. DO NOT GIVE OUT PERSONAL INFORMATION LIKE SOCIAL SECURITY
NUMBERS, BANK ACCOUNT NUMBERS OR CREDIT CARD NUMBERS (unless
you're making a secure purchase) ON THE INTERNET!!! Any web
site or email asking you for this information is trying to rip
10. DO NOT RESPOND TO E-MAILS FROM FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS (LIKE
NIGERIA) ASKING YOU TO HELP THEM RECOVER MILLIONS OF
DOLLARS!!! The list of unfortunate souls who have lost their
life savings to this scam is very long.
11. Do not download music, movies or software from illegal
sources such as Kazaa, Limewire and others. It's a sure fire
way to pick up viruses and spyware. Stick to legal sources
such as iTunes or Napster.
Jeff Mayer is a Web
Developer with over 28 years of computer experience.
Guide to Computers" is designed to teach senior citizens,
kids, moms and dads all about computers. Jeff's email is: