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Spyware. Scareware. Phishing. Malware. Adware.

All these names refer to threats you and your computer face when connected to the Internet. Do you know what they are and how to avoid them?

Safe surfing is one important step to securing your personal information and maintaining a usable computer. When you go online without being familiar with cyber threats, you can unknowingly infect your computer or fall prey to a scam. In the worst cases, your identity is put at risk. More likely, your computer will be compromised and can be controlled by a hacker. Compromised computers are used by hackers to launch their attacks against other sites/computers so that it cannot be traced back to them.

If either of these scenarios or any like it happen to you, you will spend hours or money fixing the problem. Rather than spending time trying to clean up a big mess, take time now to protect yours.

Protect Your Computer

  • Use virus protection software from a trusted company

  • Use a firewall

  • Don't install or run programs of unknown origin

  • Keep all applications (including your operating system) patched/updated

  • Make regular backups of files

  • Consider encrypting files with personal or sensitive information

  • Consider creating an account for your computer with basic privileges and use that to log on your computer instead of the full privileges of an administrator account

Protecting Yourself While Online

  • Establish another e-mail address for use with newsgroups and strangers

  • Surf anonymously (an option offered through some antivirus and internet security programs)

  • Shop online safely

  • Avoid spyware

  • Understand the risks of adware

  • Avoid fake antivirus software

  • Be familiar with the forms of phishing to avoid being a victim

  • Avoid entering your information in unsecured websites with unsigned certificates

  • Don't open unknown e-mail attachments

  • Disable hidden filename extensions

  • Disable scripting features in e-mail programs

  • Disable Java, JavaScript, and ActiveX if possible

Last Published 6/17/15