Keeping yourself and your business safe on the internet

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Tuesday July 30, 2013 at 10:00am
There’s one major problem with the internet enabled life we all live and that is we are not only connected to friends, colleagues and ‘the good guys’ online, we can also be connected, often unintentionally to ‘the bad guys’ too. Here are just a few of the pitfalls for the regular internet, email and web enabled software user.

Spammers

Don’t open unexpected emails from non-contacts. If an email brings news that seems too good to be true, then it probably is! If it promises to enhance parts of your body, it won’t. If it promises an easy mortgage, you would be better visiting your high street bank. If unsure ask five friends, chances are some of them have received the same spam emails and you know to treat them as “spam” and better still block the sender if you can.

Don't be so keen to use Google search for everything, bookmark sites that you know and trust and navigate to them this way.

Free Software

There is a lot of useful, free software available online. However, on occasions free software comes bundled with other unwanted and even malicious programs. If you are tempted to use free software check out genuine reviews from independent sources and check carefully what you are actually downloading.

Make sure your anti-virus software is up-to-date this should help to identify any problem content. You should also make sure your Operating System has been updated and patched accordingly before clicking the download button.

A new batch of spoof pop-ups offers to scan your device for infections and vulnerabilities for free. There are genuine free scans offered by Anti Virus (AV) software companies, however, if you are not on an AV website then don’t take the bait. You could allow access to your device by clicking on this scans.

Photo Downloads

This danger is best illustrated with an example. A user I know downloaded a set of photos of a pop icon for his desktop. Windows asked him to say yes to executing the file once downloaded. Assuming it was just a photo, he accepted. Within a couple of hours, the PC started to slow down to the point where it was unusable. Even after a “reboot” the PC was unstable. The free photo had a malicious payload attached that had taken over the PC to send out spam for the ‘bad guys’. The PC required the Operating System (OS) to be reloaded, the user had lost the day and all personal settings on the PC.

Privacy

Most free software and websites have an “opt in” or “opt out” policy. Don’t click or agree without reading the actual narrative. People often click on “agree” buttons without reading the text, sometimes you could be clicking to agree to spam or you could be clicking to agree not to receive spam. If you are clicking to agree to pages of legal jargon, learn from others' mistakes. If the T&C’s are hard to understand, it is probably deliberate. If reading the T&C’s is not worth the hassle, don’t risk using the software.

Marcus Allen
Parker Management Consultants

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