Internet/Email Security – Protecting Yourself in Cyberspace

With the number of rampant threats floating around cyberspace these days, here are a few things to keep in mind to help protect your computer and possibly your identity.

Besides having up-to-date virus/malware protection, you (the user) must be aware of what mechanisms these threats use.  Even though you have protection software, you may inadvertently allow yourself to get infected by clicking on that annoying pop-up window that appears when you browse your favorite site.

Most pop-ups are advertisements (Note: they are usually based on where you browse, so they can be very compelling) are annoying but harmless, However there are pop-ups that, if clicked, will install malware on your machine. The one that comes to mind is a pop-up telling you that you are infected, “click here” for a free scan.  By clicking this pop-up you just allowed it to install a piece of software that will tell you that your PC is infected, show you files it considers dangerous to your PC, and tell you the only way to fix it is to pay them for their software.  These products are malware, NOT malware protection.  Some legitimate, protection software catches them and some does not.

With these products, DO NOT send any money or personal information with any form that may pop-up.  These types of software are probably some of the hardest to remove.  To be safe make sure you click the “X” in the outer most window, or use the windows shortcut to close the window, the “ALT” key and the “F4” key at the same time.  This way you are communicating with the browser and NOT the malware program.

If you suspect you have been infected, see my previous Blog_Article about what should be done next.

Email is another place where malware may sneak in.  CCS Retail Systems recommends that you turn off the preview pane (or option) in your settings, to help keep this from happening.  Just by opening an email (which is what a preview does) there is the possibility that you could infect your PC.  Previews can also verify that a piece of spam reached a valid email address causing more spam to come.

You must be careful about clicking links in emails.  Just because the link says you are going to The Home Depot website, you may instead be redirected elsewhere.  This can be a similar professional looking site that is designed to compromise your PC.  If you are not sure of who sent you the email immediately delete it.

If you are interested and want to verify the offer presented, ignore the the link in the email and manually type in the correct web address into your browser to make sure you are going to the site mentioned. If your browser has a phishing filter, you can use it to help detect these types of scams  Make sure it is on, so the browser can check its list of these phishing sites for you and generate a warning. This can take a little time but it is worth it for the protection you get. Most filters allow you to report these phishing sites as well.  Take the time to do this.

In conclusion, paying attention to what is happening and not blindly clicking pop-ups and links can save you time, money, grief and leads to a more pleasurable Internet experience.

Have a Great Weekend


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