One of the first lines of defense when viewing the internet is your internet browser. What is a browser, you ask? It is the program your computer uses to decode the internet into graphics and text for you to read. Examples of browsers are Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Pale Moon, and many, many more. The two best browsers out there that we recommend are first, Google Chrome and a close second, Mozilla Firefox. Both of these browsers use what is called a sandbox to open webpages. Yes, envision a child playing in a sandbox with the wooden borders there to ensure that the sand doesn’t spill over the side into the grass. The sandboxes these browsers use are similar. They view the internet inside a “border” to protect the rest of your computer. Using these browsers and having a decent antivirus – Yes free is good too (Windows Defender, Microsoft Security Essentials) — your computer will be much safer when online. Of course our computers are never at risk unless there is a person in the driver seat, however. Anything we give permission to or “Click” on totally bypasses ALL of the computers safeguards because we said go! The best thing we can do is to only click things we recognize and know to be safe and ignore the rest. Keep reading and we’ll talk about what I mean.
We all love free stuff. In fact, a lot of us will try to get free stuff first, especially on the internet. Songs, games, movies, pictures – we like ‘em when they’re free. But just know that the majority of “free” stuff you download from the internet has viruses and spyware along for the ride. We click through all the buttons to download and before we know it we’ve got new bars on our browser, apps on our home screen, viruses that are causing problems, and spyware that’s hijacking our private information. The best thing to do is to avoid these free things. “You get what you pay for,” is perhaps cliché, but very true. And a lot of times, downloading free music and movies is illegal. It’s best to steer clear unless you’re 100% sure it’s safe. If you’re unsure, give us a call and we’d love to help you decide if the button you’re about to push is safe.
There’s many ways that people around the world try to scam you. The most common ways are through e-mail and your own home phone.
E-mail: Don’t open e-mails from people or places you don’t know. Don’t click links in e-mails from people you don’t know, and if one of your friends sends an e-mail with only a link in it, or writes a message along with a link that doesn’t sound like them, don’t click on the link. Give your friend a call to see if they really did send you something.
Home phone: First thing to know here is that Microsoft, or any other big and reputable company, does not call you. If you get a phone call from someone claiming to know something about your computer, it’s a scammer. Microsoft, or any other company, doesn’t know anything about your computer, and they wouldn’t contact you on your phone. These scammers will try to get you to go to some random link and help them sign into your computer. Then, when they are inside of your computer, they may download viruses, steal bank info and other vital information about you.
Here are some good rules about passwords:
- Don’t reuse passwords over and over. It’s best to memorize passwords, but if you’re like me, I need to keep a sheet of paper or notebook somewhere safe to write down all my passwords and the places they are used for. As a standard rule, use 3 or 4 different ones. Don’t use the same password you use for your e-mail account for your bank sign-in.2. Pick passwords that would be difficult for someone else to guess. Pick something completely random, and then memorize it. Don’t use your birthday, or street name, or easy passwords like “123456”, “111111” or “Password.” Use a good combination of letters, numbers, and at least one special character (i.e ?!@#). This makes it almost impossible for computers, or even your neighbor or best friend, to guess your password.
3. Have your browser save your password. If your computer is used by only people you trust (aka you and your spouse, or just you), then have the computer remember your passwords. Usually, after you type a new password, it will ask you if you want your browser to remember that password. The reason to do this is because Keyloggers won’t be able to steal your password. Keyloggers are a type of spyware that hitches rides on some downloads that you accept, like we talked about under “Free Stuff” above. Keyloggers see everything you type on your keyboard, from e-mails, to English papers, to passwords, to e-mail addresses and everything in-between. If you type it on your keyboard, a keylogger can see it. So if you have a keylogger and type in “Gmail.com” to go to your e-mail, and then type in your username and password, that keylogger can get into your e-mail. The same can be said for your Bank account, Facebook account, and anything else you sign in to. So if your browser remembers all of your passwords, all you have to do is go to the website and click “sign in” instead of typing your password. If you use public computers or if your computer is used by other people you don’t completely trust, this option would not be good for you.
In this new age of Social Media, it seems like we put everything on the internet. Remember that no matter what it is or how private you think it is, anything you put online is permanent. Even if your Facebook profile is set to private, or so that only your friends can see, it’s really not. Once you put words or pictures into cyberspace, it can’t be undone, even if you delete them. It’s best to think twice before you post something online, and make sure that you’re 100% sure that whatever you’re putting out there, you’d be comfortable with it staying on the Internet forever.