Safe Surfing - Tips for Secure Internet Browsing
Every day, people lose millions of files, programs, and documents because of weak and inadequate Internet security practices. The Web is full of malicious programs and software that can wreak havoc on your computer’s file systems. Viruses and malware can result in everything from annoying pop-up ads to threats that can wipe out your entire operating system. Some malicious software programs can even get a hold of sensitive information like credit card numbers, passwords, and other personal information.
Internet security threats can be prevented with a few simple safe surfing tips. Safe surfing prevents viruses and malware from entering your system and corrupting files and operating systems.
What are Viruses and Malware?
Computer viruses and malware work a lot like disease-carrying viruses. Viruses and malware usually attach themselves to innocent-looking files, cookies, and cache files. Unsuspecting computer users may enter an untrusted website or a domain, and unwittingly receive dangerous files and attachments.
Viruses and malware must be taken seriously. Some of these programs may run as background processes and slow down CPU performance and page file usage. Computers plagued with many computer viruses may have issues with hard drive space. Some viruses and malware are so dangerous that they may even destroy all your files and completely wipe out your operating system. Major security threats may lead to long-term problems like cybercrime and cyber-theft.
Safe Browsing Practices
- Visit only trusted sites with valid security certificates.
- As much as possible, try to avoid pornographic websites. Porn sites on the Internet are hotspots for dangerous malware like pop-up ads and security threats.
- Be very careful when asked to fill out personal information, like credit card account numbers. You may be the next victim of Internet scams and cyber-theft.
- Clear your browser cache every now and then to free up precious hard drive space.
- Be very careful when using download managers. They may seem to make downloading files easier and faster, but they can also download malware in the background.
- Peer-to-peer downloaders are convenient ways to exchange files over the Internet, especially music and audio files. Aside from the legal implications of using peer-to-peer file sharing (like piracy and copyright infringement), some shared files may contain dangerous viruses.
Safe Browsing on Public or Shared Computers
- Never disclose your password to important or private Internet accounts to anyone.
- Always remember to log out of important accounts like e-mail, forums, personal blogs, or social network sites. Other users may be able to access your accounts and may alter your passwords or transact business without your permission.
- Be very careful when using a USB-powered thumbdrive, flash drive, or other removable writable media. Viruses and malware may copy themselves into the drive, and affect other computers you insert the drive into. A good, although not foolproof, way to prevent viruses and malware from copying themselves onto your USB removable media is to lock the read-write option.
- If you are not sure of how secure the public computer is, do not use or insert any removable writable media on the computer.
More Computer Safety Tips
- If you can afford it, use a reputable anti-virus software package like McAfee Virus Scan, Norton Anti-Virus, or Sophos Anti-Virus.
- If you cannot afford proprietary anti-virus software packages, freeware packages like AVG, avast! Home, and BitDefender work quite well. Keep in mind that freeware may not work as well as proprietary software packages, and you may run the risk of downloading viruses and malware with the anti-virus program.
- Do not open an e-mail attachment if you are not absolutely sure what it contains. Some of the world’s most dangerous viruses, like the “I Love You” virus and the “Storm Worm” virus, have been spread through innocent-looking e-mail attachments. (See Top ten most destructive computer viruses of all time)
- Run a full system scan and full disk defragmentation every month (Tips on how to get rid of disk fragmentation). If you are permanently connected to the Internet, run a full system scan every week.
You would be surprised at how fast your Internet connection and your processing speed can get with only a few minor changes in the way you browse and surf through the Internet. Have a safe and happy Web surfing experience!