Posted by: LarryO | October 28, 2010

Keeping You And Your Computer Safe

Keeping safe online takes more than just installing security software; it involves making sure all potential security issues have been addressed. To protect both you and your computer, consider the following:

1. Browsing the Web with JavaScript enabled by default

Today’s attackers are more likely to host their malicious files on the web. They even update those files constantly using automated tools that repackage the binary in an attempt to bypass signature-based scanners. Whether through social engineering or through website exploit, the choice of browser will be of little help. All browsers are equally susceptible to Web-based malware and this includes Firefox, Opera, and the much maligned Internet Explorer. Disabling JavaScript on all but the most trusted sites will go a long ways toward safer web browsing.

2. Using Adobe Reader/Acrobat

Adobe Reader comes pre-installed on most computers. And even if you never use it, just its mere presence can leave your computer at risk. Vulnerabilities in Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat are the number one most common infection vector, bar none. Making sure you stay up to date with the latest version of Adobe products is imperative.

3. Clicking unsolicited links in e-mail or instant messenger

Malicious or fraudulent links in e-mail and IM are a significant vector for both malware and social engineering attacks. Reading e-mail in plain text can help identify potentially malicious or fraudulent links. Your best bet: avoid clicking any link in an e-mail or IM that is received unexpectedly – particularly if you do not know the sender.

4. Clicking on popups that claim your computer is infected

Rogue scanners are a category of scam software sometimes referred to as scareware. Rogue scanners masquerade as anti-virus, anti-spyware, or other security software, claiming the user’s system is infected in order to trick them into paying for a full version. Avoiding infection is easy – don’t fall for the bogus claims.

5. Logging in to an account from a link received in e-mail, IM, or social networking

Never, ever login to an account after being directed there via a link received in an e-mail, IM, or social networking message (i.e., Facebook). If you do follow a link that instructs you to login afterwards, close the page, then open a new page and visit the site using a previously bookmarked or known good link.

6. Applying security patches for ALL programs

Chances are, there are dozens of security vulnerabilities waiting to be exploited on your system. And it’s not just Windows patches you need to be concerned with. Adobe Flash, Acrobat Reader, Apple QuickTime, Sun Java and a bevy of other third-party apps typically host security vulnerabilities waiting to be exploited. Users need to ensure all these applications are always current and up to date.

7. Keep Anti-virus Updated

Of course, out-of-date anti-virus is almost as bad as no anti-virus software at all. Make sure your anti-virus software is configured to automatically check for updates as frequently as the program will allow or a minimum of once per day. One of the major benefits of SecureIT is that updates are automatically downloaded and installed on your computer.

8. Falling for phishing or other social engineering scams

Just as the Internet makes it easier for legitimate pursuits, it also makes it easier for scammers, con artists, and other online miscreants to carry out their virtual crimes – impacting our real life finances, security, and peace of mind. Scammers often use sad sounding stories or promises of quick riches to hook us into being willing victims to their crimes. Exercising common sense is one of the best ways to avoid online scams.

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