Browsing the Internet safely comes with many hurdles. Not all of them are obvious, however. These hurdles are numerous and potentially dangerous, but with the proper knowledge and mindfulness, they can be avoided quite easily.
Viruses and Spyware
The Internet is a minefield of harmful applications and criminals trying to take anything they can, but these attempts can be counteracted.
A user must always watch out for suspicious links or websites. Some websites, though legitimate-looking enough, may be spoofed or fake, hiding malicious code or something equally devious.
Hints to these websites being fake can lie in any aspect of the page, but most commonly, it is a slightly different URL or domain name, typically off by only a letter or two.
The viruses dwelling in pop-ups usually attempt to scare users into clicking their product and downloading the malware or spyware-stuffed application linked in the pop-up.
Spyware can not only steal information input while loaded onto a system, but also slows the system to a crawl and tends to be easy to pick up. Simply navigating to a poisoned web page or opening a suspicious e-mail can infect a workstation with spyware.
The real dangers lie in file-sharing sites, where any file could be dangerous. When downloading any application, evaluate it carefully and make fully sure that not only the site is legitimate, but also that the application is safe too.
Preventative measures do exist, and any workstation should have an anti-virus and anti-spyware application installed and running to prevent most malicious applications from doing any serious damage.
Phishing and Scams
Viruses aren’t the only dangers that come with browsing the Internet. Many scams plague the Internet, preying on people uneducated about their existences.
Older scams were typically through e-mail, with scammers posing as long-lost relatives or people who could offer the victim a large sum of money, but only if they helped them out with a fraction of what they claimed they could pay the victim.
While it seems silly that these scams could work, many fall prey to the empathetic connection one might have when speaking a person in apparent need. These scams, while still common, occur less and less while newer and more sophisticated traps are being developed.
Phishing attempts also come in a method previously discussed – pop-ups. These can have dangerous-looking warnings, alerting you that your machine is infected with a petrifying number of viruses and scaring the user into clicking their links or graphics.
These links or graphics can lead down a dangerous path, including giving the scammers your credit card information or worse.
In the event a pop-up like this occurs, do not panic or give in.
If it is a pop-up, close the window and make certain you click nothing else on the page. If it is a re-direct to a suspicious page, close that as well, and immediately scan the system for any viruses or spyware just to be safe.
No computer is untouchable, but best practices and well-implemented safety measures can make a computer system much more secure, letting you browse the Internet without fear.
In addition to anti-virus programs, constant system updates and application patches can keep any potentially dangerous backdoors or vulnerabilities covered and safe.
With all of this information kept in mind, falling prey to viruses, spyware, and scams will be far less likely and sites will seem much safer.