Palo Alto, CA (PRWEB) November 21, 2011
As hacking and the cyber black market become ever more profitable, Internet users must adopt a series of safe browsing habits to keep their computers and sensitive personal information secure. Web users, especially ones surfing the Net from a PC, are under constant threat of malware, spyware, and adware. And everyone, whether on a computer or mobile device, should be wary of potential phishing attacks while browsing and checking email.
Many Internet users believe that a robust commercial antivirus solution provides all the protection they need against Internet threats, especially as antivirus products are increasingly packaged in costly Internet Security and Premium Security bundles that offer lists of dozens of special protection features. Unfortunately, antivirus products cannot offer any guarantees, especially against user errors. An antivirus product cannot prevent social engineering, and they will often allow user-initiated software installations, even if the software cannot be confirmed as safe. Antivirus software is also only as good as the virus definitions its parent company releases. Definitions are the primary means by which consumer security software identities malicious files. If the company is slow to release their updates — or a user does not promptly install updates when notified — new viruses and malware can slide right through an antivirus products protective barrier.
If antivirus software by itself isnt enough to provide adequate protection, whats a concerned user to do? BizCloud provides these tips for safe browsing and general Internet security:
Keep browser plug-ins updated at all times, especially Flash and Java. Malware often takes advantage of third-party plug-in security exploits, and plug-in developers regularly release updates to patch the holes they discover.
Keep your operating system up-to-date. Whether its Windows, OS X, Android, or some other operating system, make sure you install updates when they become available — especially the security updates.
Consider using a web browser other than Internet Explorer, at least if you plan on browsing on sites with which youre unfamiliar. While the newest versions of Internet Explorer are modern, well performing browsers, they still command a plurality of the web browser market share. That means hackers are most likely to develop attacks that take advantage of IE security holes. If you must use IE, be sure to install the latest version (IE9 for Vista and 7, IE8 for XP). Popular alternative browsers include Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera.
Install Adblock Plus (for free) if using Firefox or Chrome. Advertisements are a common attack vector for malware distributors. Even popular websites like Facebook can accidentally serve advertisements with infected scripts to users. Adblock Plus is an easy-to-install extension that prevents 99% of advertisements from ever showing in your browser.
Never respond to emails asking for usernames or passwords. If youre convinced that an email purporting to be from a legitimate company is requesting your user credentials, then call the company to confirm the request.
Take care with the personal information you post on social networking sites, even ones like Facebook or Google+ in which you can limit who has access to your data. Ask yourself: Is there anyway a criminal could use this information against me? Accordingly, do not accept random friend requests. If youre not sure who someone is, send a message confirming his or her identity before accepting such a request.
Use difficult-to-answer security questions for password reset tools. Be sure not to post information on social networking sites or blogs that could enable would-be-miscreants to ascertain the answer to any of your security questions.
Beware phishing attacks. A phishing attack is when an email or advertisement redirects you to a website that looks almost exactly (or maybe even exactly) like a website you trust. For example, an email or advertisement could contain a link requesting you to sign into your Gmail account and then take you to a site that appears to be a valid Gmail login page. Whenever you log in to a site, check the address bar at the top of the browser window to ensure that its really the site you think it is. Also, never enter user login information directly into a login box embedded into an email message or advertisement.
No amount of caution and safe browsing habits can ever 100% assure complete security on the Internet, but following these tips will dramatically reduce the likelihood of an Internet user falling prey to malware, identity theft, or data loss. If you do suspect that your computer may be infected by malware, either contact a qualified professional or try running malware scanning tools like Malwarebytes Anti-Malware and rootkit removal tools like TDSSKiller. If you think your sensitive personal information may have been compromised, be sure to call all of the financial institutions with which you maintain accounts to put them on alert.