101 Internet Security Tips

Tip51-Tip101

51. Disable scripts and active content.
Set your browser to prompt you when Javascript, Java or ActiveX controls are executed on a Web site. Malicious code is sometimes hidden in these features. Be sure that the site is trustworthy before enabling the content.

52. Be mindful of the information kept on portable USB drives.
Portable USB drives are a convenient way to store information, but their small size makes them easy to lose. Consider encrypting the data stored on these drives, in case of loss or theft. If you find someone else’s USB drive, do not plug it into your computer. Hand it over to authorities instead.

53. Keep a log of sites visited.
Have children keep a list of any sites that they visit so you can review for potential spyware and other risks. Do not let children register with Web sites without permission.

54. Use a spam filter.
If your e-mail program separates spam and junk mail, use these features. This will filter away the scams and malicious messages so that there is no chance of accidental response or infection.

55. Be wary of strange messages.
Hackers and e-mail viruses can come in e-mails from recognized senders, so be aware of any strange e-mails, even if the sender’s name is familiar. Examples of strange messages include attachments with odd file extensions or incoherent words in the message body. Treat these messages as you would ones from unknown senders and delete them immediately.

56. Change passwords regularly.
Changing passwords on a regular basis can help prevent criminals from accessing your personal information. Get in the habit of changing passwords every 90 days. Also, change your password if you feel that there has been any type of security breach.

57. Stay informed. Subscribe to the National Cyber Alert System at www.us-cert.gov.
These updates will give you timely information about current Internet security issues. Knowing the risks is important to effectively protect your home and business computers.

58. Be cautious with chat and instant messaging.
Before divulging any personal information in a chat or IM message, be sure that you are communicating with who you expect to communicate with. To ensure that friends are not confused with strangers, you may want to create a password to help you recognize an online friend.

59. Forward spoof e-mails to verify.
Phishing e-mails often claim to be from eBay, PayPal, or a familiar company name. If you are unsure of the e-mail’s validity, forward it to the customer service department at the actual company the email claims to be from. They can confirm whether or not it is real.

60. Limit information is given when registering for a Web site.
Although the name and e-mail address are usually standard requirements for any site registration, some require more information, like address and phone number. Be cautious about which sites you give the information to. When possible only complete the required fields, often marked with an asterisk.

61. Be safe about meeting online friends in person.
If you decide to meet an online-only friend in person, meet at a public place and tell other friends and family about your plans.

62. Protect friends’ e-mail addresses.
To avoid sharing e-mail addresses of friends and family with spyware distributors and spammers, avoid using a site’s ìrecommend to friendsî feature unless you are sure that the Website is reputable.

63. Mark spam messages.
An e-mail spam filter will catch most spam and junk mail messages, but some may still get through. Train your e-mail service to recognize junk by marking junk mail messages in your inbox as spam. The e-mail service will know to direct similar messages to the spam folder in the future.

64. Read the fine print.
Review the terms and conditions of any site you register with. Most have a checkbox for whether you would like to receive updates and offers from sponsors. Be sure that this box is left unchecked, or you could end up receiving lots of junk mail and spam. Most reputable sites include a statement explaining that they do not sell or share your e-mail address with other companies.

65. Be careful about what you share with others.
Don’t say anything online that you would not tell anyone you never met. This is especially important for social networking sites, like Twitter or Facebook. Be sure not to divulge addresses of where you are or full names of who you are with. Too much information can be an invitation for a stranger to show up at your location.

66. Practice caution with Out-Of-Office responses.
An automated response explaining that you are unable to check emails on vacation can be helpful, but it also acts as an advertisement that you are away from your computer and/or your home. If possible, modify the Out-Of-Office response settings so the response is only sent to existing members of your e-mail address book. Don’t be too specific about the details of where you are and why you won’t check your e-mail; leave the message simple and secure.

67. Know who is watching you.
Be careful about your e-mail and Internet activity at work. In most of the United States, any activity conducted on a work computer is the property of the employer. Not only could inappropriate activity result in work-related disciplinary action, but you could end up divulging personal information to strangers at your place of business.

68. Beware of public Wi-Fi access.
Don't send or view confidential information when using public wireless connections. Other wireless users in the same location could monitor network activity and see what you are doing.

69. Minimize chances of mobile device theft.
Don’t advertise that you have a laptop by using it in public. Consider using a non-traditional laptop carrying case and an alarm or lock to add additional security.

70. Always log off of secured sites.
When using online banking or other password-protected sites, be sure to log off when finished and close the browser window. This ensures that the session is closed and information cannot be viewed by others. This is especially important if you are using a public computer.

71. Clear your cookies frequently.
Cookies are the way that Web sites store personal information. Not all cookies are bad, but some companies sell this information to other companies for marketing purposes. You can delete unnecessary cookies through the Internet options section of your browser.

72. Secure mobile connections.
When using Wi-Fi, hot spots or Internet cafes, be sure that webmail is secured with the https:// prefix. Also be aware of those around you who may watch you type passwords or other personal details.

73. Secure your home wireless connection.
Make sure that your home WiFi connection is password-protected so no one can access your connection, even if they are in signal range.

74. Remember physical security.
All the security precautions in the world will not protect your computer if it is physically vulnerable to theft. Always keep your laptop in sight when traveling. If a private computer is kept in a home with roommates or family members, consider locking the door to the computer room when you are not around.

75. Watch for security cues.
Secured sites should change from the http:// prefix to https:// or shttp:// at the moment when you are prompted to type in a username and password.

76. Review your credit reports.
Each consumer is entitled to a free copy of his or her credit report each year. Order copies of credit reports from the three reporting bureaus annually, and review for incorrect information or unfamiliar accounts. Dispute any errors immediately.

77. Use separate computers for leisure and personal business.
If possible, stop Web surfing on the computer that you use for online banking or shopping. This will limit the number of cookies, spyware, and monitoring and can reduce the incidence of identity theft.

78. Be aware of cyberstalking.
Cyberstalking is on-line harassment, including threatening e-mails, identity assumption and online defamation of character. If you believe you are a victim of cyberstalking, your Internet service provider should be able to assist you in finding the perpetrator.

79. Be safe on social networking sites.
Use the privacy settings on social networking sites to keep your personal details secure. Make information like your last name, e-mail address and phone number invisible to anyone except for people you know and approve. Do not allow the site to automatically accept friend requests. Instead, approve each request personally.

80. Keep sensitive information out of chat rooms.
Even if you are talking with someone in a private chat room, chat services often archive conversations on a server. You have no control over what happens to archived conversations. Even if you feel that everything is secure on your end, remember that you don’t know if the person you are chatting with has someone watching his or her interactions with you.

81. Browse with care.
Be cautious about the Web sites that you visit, and if a site seems suspicious, close your browser and leave the site. Most Web sites are able to track bits of information from your computer, like IP address and the software that you use, for marketing purposes. While this information collection is not necessarily harmful from trustworthy sites, Web sites that seem less legitimate can use this information for malicious activity.

82. Change Wi-Fi administrator passwords.
Most Wifi routers come with a generic username and password for equipment setup. Although password-protected, this information is not specific to the individual and therefore well known to hackers. Change the username and password as soon as your wireless network is set up.

83. Enable WPA/WEP encryption.
All WiFi equipment supports encryption to protect information sent over wireless networks. Choose the strongest encryption option that works with your network. It may require synchronizing the encryption settings on all Wi-Fi devices that you and your family use.

84. Change the default SSID name.
Wi-Fi access points and routers use a network name called the SSID, and routers often have a default SSID of the manufacturer name. Using the generic SSID does not make your wireless network more susceptible to threats, but it is a sign to others that the network is poorly configured, making it more of a target. Shange the default SSID name immediately when configuring your wireless security.

85. Allow MAC address filtering.
Each Wi-Fi component has a unique identifier called the MAC address, and access points and routers keep tabs on all the MAC addresses of devices that connect to them. Many products allow the owner to type in the MAC addresses of his or her equipment, so the network will only allow connection from those approved devices.

86. Disable SSID broadcast.
Access points and routers usually broadcast the SSID name at regular intervals. This function was originally intended for roaming, but it is unnecessary when a wireless network is used in the home. Disable the broadcast so others will not be able to see your network.

87. Disable Wi-Fi auto-connect.
Most computers have a setting to allow the computer to connect to any open wireless network. Disable this setting and always connect directly to your home network. Use the auto-connect if necessary during temporary situations, like when traveling.

88. Assign fixed IP addresses to wireless devices.
Turn off DHCP and assign a static IP address to your computer. Although DHCP is easier to configure, it is also easier for hackers to find IP addresses and intercept. Use a private range for the IP address so the computer is not vulnerable to being reached from the Web.

89. Enable the firewalls on your router.
In addition to a firewall on your computer, make sure that your wireless router’s firewall is turned on. This will offer an additional level of protection for your home wireless network.

90. Position the router appropriately.
Home Wi-Fi signals are intended to be used in the home. While some signal may leak outdoors, keep an eye on how far the signal reaches. The position of the router determines how far the signal will reach, so try to place the router in the center of the home to prevent the signal passing across streets or into different neighborhoods.

91. Shut down your network when it is not being used.
While it isn’t practical to turn off a wireless network daily, be sure that it is disconnected if you plan to be gone on vacation or extended off-line periods.

92. Use third-party payment services.
When shopping online, use a third-party service to pay. These services, like PayPal and Amazon Payments, seamlessly transfer money from a bank account to the vendor without the need to expose your bank or credit card information to the seller.

93. Watch out for e-mail hoaxes.
If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t. Be cautious of any easy money scams, like promises of lottery winnings or requests to move money from a foreign country. These scams usually ask that you send money or personal information to sign up for the opportunity. Steer clear of these hoaxes.

94. Beware of virus hoaxes.
Sometimes e-mails that inform of a security risk are malicious or intended to create panic. Always verify before you act or share the information. Check with McAfee or F-Secure to see if the virus described is a hoax before you take any action.

95. Avoid Bots.
Not everyone in a chat room is an actual person behind a keyboard. Chat robots, or bots, are often used to moderate chat rooms and provide news or weather updates. Malicious bots can be set up to infiltrate your computer.

96. Take precautions with smartphones.
Use the same precautions accessing your smartphone in public as you would any other public computer. Avoid online banking in busy public spaces because strangers could shoulder-surf to watch what you type. Also, consider disabling the feature that allows the phone to automatically connect to any open wireless network.

97. Encrypt Internet phones.
Voice over IP (VOIP) is a way of communicating by voice over public internet connections, so a risk of eavesdropping is always present. Choose a VOIP provider that offers secure encryption services.

98. Erase data from unwanted computers.
Before tossing out an old computer, copy all the data that you need to keep and erase the hard disk. Simply deleting files is not enough. Use a program to erase all traces of personal data from the computer before recycling or donating.

99. Assume permanence.
The Internet does not have a delete button. If you post or publish any information and then delete it, you maintain no control over how it is copied, stored or archived. Think before you post anything that you may regret later.

100. Be cautious of links or attachments from chat messages.
Although you may feel comfortable with a person that you share conversations within a chat room, if you do not really know the person, you cannot be sure of his or her intentions. Avoid clicking on any links or opening attachments from a chat buddy that you do not know very well. This is a common method for hackers to distribute malicious material directly.

101. Know what to do if something is wrong.
If you suspect that malware is affecting your computer, stop any online activities that involve user names, passwords or other personal information. Scan your computer with an anti-virus software, and delete anything that the program finds to be suspicious. If the problem is not resolved call for professional technical help from a repair shop or manufacturer.

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