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Protect yourself against computer security threats

Can you, as an average user, instinctively recognize security threats well enough to avoid them? Let’s take a closer look at ways to do just that.

USE CAUTION: When downloading or opening files

Ask yourself: “Do I recognize this person sending me a file or telling me to visit a website? Can I be sure that it’s really them? Is the message written in language and style that my friend or this organization would normally use?”

Incredibly, it is both free and easy to fraudulently send an email that appears to come from someone else’s email account! So what should you do to be on your guard? Do you reply to an email that looks a little strange and ask the sender whether they intended to send it and to confirm where they got the file if there is an attachment? Do you ask them if they themselves exercised similar caution when they received the file? In truth, you’re not going to want or be able to engage in that kind of discourse with every slightly suspect link or attachment that you see, so if you don’t recognize the sender and it looks suspicious then delete it. So put simply, be careful where you click and exercise a little EXTRA common sense, if that makes sense!

USE CAUTION: When following links to websites

If you are asked to visit a website, ask yourself whether the ‘URL bar’ (the ‘address bar’ at the top of your Internet browser) starts with exactly the same Internet domain name you would usually use to access that company’s site? If in any doubt – check!

Don’t surf the web or open files when you have Administrator privileges

One of the easiest ways to protect yourself from many deception attacks – those that install unintended software on your computer – is to avoid logging into your computer using the ‘Administrator’ account, or using a personal account that has ‘Administrator’ privileges. If you do need to log in as Administrator (to change your system settings etc.) , make sure at least that User Access Control (UAC) is enabled, if you are using Windows XP, Vista, or Windows 7, then you will be asked if you really want to install. This is easy to turn on from the Windows CONTROL PANEL just by typing “UAC” into the search box.

Protect yourself with up-to-date software

Finally of course, keep the online security software up-to-date on your PC. All of the main security software companies spend millions every year to ensure that whenever someone learns about a new Internet security threat, we work out what the risks posed by that threat are, how the mechanics of the threat may cause it to target you and how to protect your computer from it.

The makers of operating systems, Internet browsers and the most common software applications spend vast amounts of time and money looking out for new security threats that exploit potential problems within their products, and whenever one is found (by anyone) they usually fix the hole in their software quickly and release an update. This software fix is usually known as a ‘patch’ or as an ‘update’.

All computer users should regularly visit their operating system vendor’s website (e.g. http://windows.update.com for Windows) and run the update software to keep their OS and tools bug free.

Similarly, you should follow the update guidelines and visit the websites of the companies that supply all of the software that you use, to ensure that you are always running the latest version and are up to date with security fixes.

So with a little knowledge, a little caution, a little rigor applied to processes we use to make sure our operating system, Internet browsers and other PC applications are always up to date – and by using a good online security product, we can be confident that we are protecting our electronic information and our online lives against virtually every Internet threat that is likely to attack.

via AVG Blogs

  • 05/26/2010
  • IT