Date:10 September 2010 I Comments: 1 I Views:8,864

Online fraud and the threat of malware is an ever present danger as we use the internet day-to-day. Here are a few pointers to keep your computer and personal information protected when online  cheaply!

For all secure websites you use, have passwords that can’t be easily guessed. Avoid information that could be worked out, such as dates of birth and family names. Use random letters, numbers and non-alpha numeric characters to make a password that seems impossible to guess, and therefore makes it harder for intruders to hack into your system. Change passwords regularly – especially for online banking sites, and have different ones for different sites.

Whenever you’re being asked to make a payment online, you must ensure that the connection is secure. If you can’t be sure – don’t make the payment, contact the vendor to ask why the payment system isn’t secure, or simply buy elsewhere. There are a few ways to know:

  • “https://www…” rather than “http://www…” the additional “s” indicates a secure server. 
  • The Padlock symbol: If a site is secure, a padlock symbol will be displayed on the browser window in the correct place. Ignore icons and symbols shown inside the main body of the website, only a symbol on the window itself means the site is secure. Website creators can only control what appears inside the body of a browser window – they can’t add the padlock symbol onto the window itself in the correct location.
  • Have a quick scan of the web address to make sure it isn’t a dodgy impersonation of the correct site.

Install a quality anti-virus program and keep it up to date – there are a number of free antivirus downloads and completely free to use programmes available. Use your anti-virus software to do the following:

  • Scan your computer on a daily basis – set it to automatically scan your computer at a time when you’re likely to be working to avoid missing scans.
  • If you find your computer is infected, quarantine or remove viruses – there are free removal tools for specific viruses online.
  • Scan all cameras, pen drives and other portable media automatically when you attach them, to prevent the passing of viruses.
  • Scan all incoming email attachments and file transfers, even from trusted contacts – most viruses are passing innocently and unknowingly.

You should have Firewall software to work alongside anti-virus software in order to block unauthorised access to your computer. Keep it turned on at all times to filter out unwanted network access.

A basic security precaution that is frequently overlooked by many is the regular updating of operating systems. Set your computer to automatically download and install updates and security patches. Services like ‘Windows Update‘ are free, and downloading these updates decreases your computer’s susceptibility to virus infection.  

As a precaution it is wise to regularly back-up all your important personal information, in case something does happen to a computer. One of the most simple and effective methods is to have an external hard drive to back up onto. Periodically transfer your data to a storage device like this for safe keeping.

Guest post courtesy of: Bullguard Internet Security

Category: General