Computer & PC Help

ITS HOLIDAY TIME PART II – INTERNET SECURITY03 Dec

Once again it’s that time of the year when everyone is looking to “rip us off”  and it’s up to us to be smarter than they are.  Let’s talk security.  Virus protection is a very important element in preventing you from getting “ripped off”.  Just the other day I was working on someone’s PC and  upon checking there virus protection,  ( making sure it was up to date because your virus protection is only as good as the update that is applied)  I noticed that there were 116 blocked threats.   I showed this to the user and the response was I don’t know.   I only visit two or three sites the user told me.  “Really?” I said, well then, how did this happen?  You may be visiting one or two sites but how many pop up ads are you clicking on and what exactly are you downloading?  The user had no clue.

So my first advice to everyone is AWARENESS!!! Look at what you are downloading and be aware of the sites you are visiting.  A very good tool for those of you using Firefox is WOT (Web Of Trust) it’s free and its actually part of Firefox.  It will alert you to a less then trustworthy web site. To obtain this simply go to the Firefox menu, click Add-Ons and do a search for WOT.  You’ll have to register but it’s very worth it.  It will make you aware of less than trustworthy websites.  They have WOT for Internet Explorer. Just do a search for WOT and you should be able to find it or click this link, its for all browsers www.mywot.com/en/download. You will have to install it for Internet Explorer and then for IE 9 you’ll need to enable it. Its simple and IE 9 will prompt you to enable it just look at the bottom of your screen after installing it. You’ll see a green circle appear on the top right side of IE after you install it.

This is the time of year when you are probably are receiving many emails telling you you’ve won money or you have someone seeking money or someone is in desperate need or some agency is trying to tell you that you have an outstanding bill that you need to pay.  My advice is DELETE it immediately it’s bogus.  Also FEX-EX, USPS, and UPS will never ever email you about a package.  They will either send you a letter or they will call.  That goes for the IRS, FBI, CIA, YOUR BANK,  and of course my favorite Microsoft.  They will NEVER send you email.

IF you are making purchases on line for this Holiday Season be extra careful to make sure that website is legitimate. Most websites when you check out your purchase will have a little lock displayed on the bottom right of your screen – that means it secure. Be careful if you don’t see that lock. Also, do not use your bank card on line to make purchases. Think about that, if someone steals that they have direct access to your bank account. Use a credit card, that’s your best bet.

As for Charity’s again they will never solicit you via email they will use the post office.  Too often people just open mail from someone they never heard of and if it says “click here” they click.  Surprise!  You now have a virus and maybe spyware and that is a problem.  A virus will make your PC life miserable.   It can slow down your machine, delete your pictures and, hijack (meaning you can only visit one site) your browser. Ask anyone who’s had one.  Spyware is more complicated that can lead to big problems such as someone getting into your bank account.  Spyware or Malware is bad that can lead to someone actually getting your passwords and using them too.  My first question to my clients when I discover malware is are you doing on line banking?  If that answer is yes I advise them to change that password immediately and check their accounts too.

That’s brings me to passwords.  I’m speaking of banking passwords, credit card website, even your Facebook page and things like that.   You should be using complex passwords – not your birthday, you anniversary date, your children’s birthdays’ etc.  Too easy.  You should using complex password not your name either!  Complex meaning a combination of letters and numbers and symbols.  That doesn’t mean you can’t spell out a word and remember it for example the work enterprise – if I was going to use this for a password I’d use 3nt3rpri$3 perhaps or maybe the word password for example (and no I don’t suggest your use password for a password)  I’d use it as P@$$w0rd something like that.  This makes it a bit harder to crack or simply harder for someone to steal.  I use the example of would you leave your car with the doors open and the keys in the ignition?  Of course not because you’re asking for someone to take it.  Well the internet and security works the same way.

Those of you who work in businesses and are always complaining about your IT people and there rules, you should know that it’s for your protection. One of my business clients  insists upon screen savers that lock the machines so after a period of idle time the screensaver kicks in and the desktop is locked. Every time I visit that client I hear the same thing from the users.  “This is annoying, my screen locks and I have to keep logging back in”  I always ask them how they’d feel if someone got on their machine and did some malicious things   So this one is for all of you who complain about stuff like that.. For whatever reason one of the users left the machine on and the screensaver didn’t come on because the user disabled it, the user said it was annoying.   Well this user left the machine on and someone got on the machine and when to porn sites, and downloaded viruses wreaking havoc on the machine.  I found four viruses that destroyed some of the users the documents and spreadsheets they had saved.  This particular virus disabled the virus protection too.  It was a mess to say the least. Not only that, but the only thing that saved this user from being fired this user wasn’t there at the time this happened.  But you can see what a problem this caused.  If the user didn’t disable that simple protection then this wouldn’t have happened.

So my advice again is listen to your IT people they know better.  Regardless if you are in your home or your office your IT people know better.  You need to look before you click ok and you need to really look at what you’re click on.  You also need to be aware of the websites you visit.  If something doesn’t appear right it’s not.  Just close the browser and start again.  Too often people don’t even realize they are infected with malware until it’s too late.

My advice is simple:  KEEP your virus protection up to date; if it’s expired either re-new it or purchase something else and be aware of what you’re doing on line.  That’s your best protection.  AWARENESS.  Same with email if you don’t know the sender don’t open the mail DELETE IT.

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Happy Holiday’s Everyone!

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