By Jay Foley, Executive Director, ITRC
“Online” is now part of the everyday lingo heard everywhere you go – from the classroom to the boardroom. Most computers are constantly online, just the same as our cell phones and our personal digital assistants. Our children, friends and family are Internet-connected almost every day – for some it’s from morning to night.
With our increased connected time, there comes the added threat of exposure to various dangers in our online activities. Here are some simple thoughts on reducing your risk to these various threats.
Be suspicious of going to new online addresses. For example, if someone sends you a link to a new website, check out that link with a reliable source that identifies good versus harmful URLs prior to actually going to the website. You should look before you leap, regardless of whether you suspect anything. Some current attack methods take only a few seconds to infiltrate once you have loaded a web page.
If you receive a warning while on-line about a malicious attack, sometimes it is the attack itself (they want you to panic, click “OK”) and thus install their malware. Malware attacks can be triggered by opening an file, looking at a photo file, clicking into an infected website, or by allowing a pop-up advertisement to run on your computer. A virus can be unleashed by opening an email or photo files.
Without properly installed and updated antivirus software, your computer can be infected. Keep your protection software up to date at all times, including updates to your Windows or other operating system. Remember the criminals spend their time and energy trying to stay two steps ahead of the most recent safeguards. Their goal is rarely to destroy your computer but most often to use it to gather personal identifying information (PII) or make attacks upon other servers.
The most important aspect of online safety is your attitude. Never forget that some things are not what they seem in the Internet world.