Many of us are ignorant about the fact that our actions on the Internet or rather on our computer itself are being spied by some malware located somewhere deep inside our computer which got inside there without our knowledge while surfing the net. According to statistics, about 90% of the computers are infected with malware. Usually these spies lodge themselves in the browser’s cache folder or in some free software downloaded from unreputed sites on the net. These obnoxious elements include viruses, adware, spyware, trojan horses, worms, key loggers, thiefware, dialers, hijackers, trackware, parasites and a lot other nasty things. The intention of all these detrimental stuff is the same, either to spy your actions or to do some harm effects like deleting files or just wrecking your puter. It’s a growing problem for anyone on the Internet. As such, many of us are even not aware of the truth that whatever information we send over the Internet passes through numerous networks and servers/computers before it reaches the other end. So anybody in between can interrupt these messages between your puter and the one at the other end and do harmful effects to you in person or to your puter.
Before going into the Internet safety guidelines and precautionary measures, do you know what a malware is? The term malware is an abbreviated form of the words “malicious” and “software.” The generic term “malware” essentially refers to “adware” and “spyware” programs that are loaded onto our computers from the Internet, often without our knowledge. These malware programs may change browser settings, alter system files and create new default web/home pages. Infected systems may be plagued with new tool bars and a constant barrage of pop-up ads. Scores of useless and annoying websites will added to your “favorites” folders without you having selected them! Your puter may have an infection even without these symptoms but performing all those unwanted actions without your knowledge. Typically, malware programs collect personal information from users’ systems regarding their activities and then transfer it to advertising and data-research companies. These companies determine the websites that users visit frequently and employ the information to tailor the ads they send to individual users. Several malware programs even regularly update their own program codes on infected computers. Malware causes computers to perform poorly and infected systems may even freeze up or crash. Now let’s see how your system can be accessed while you are online.
Ctrl+C may be the most used command on our everyday work but it’s not a safe thing to do while you are online. We do copy various data by pressing Ctrl+C for pasting elsewhere. This copied data is stored in clipboard of your computer and is accessible from the Internet by a combination of java-scripts and ASP (or PHP, or CGI). Unbelievable, isn’t it?
Then try this:
- Copy any text by Ctrl+C.
- Go to SourceCodesWorld.
- You can see that the text you copied to your clipboard has been accessed by this web page.
Hence do not keep sensitive data (like passwords, credit card numbers, PIN etc.) in the clipboard while you’re surfing the web. It is extremely easy to extract the text stored in the clipboard to steal your sensitive information.
How to safeguard against this?
- Go to Tools/Internet options/Security of your Internet Explorer.
- Press “Custom level.”
- Go to “Allow programmatic clipboard access.”
- Select disable.
Internet Safety Guidelines To Guard Yourself From Internet Frauds
So what are the safe browsing practices to be adopted while surfing the net to avoid getting infected by these obnoxious elements? How to protect yourself from fraudulent Internet practices? Find below a few Internet security tips.
- Install a good antivirus package like Symantec Norton Antivirus in your system. Make sure that it updates automatically.
- Install a firewall with both incoming and outgoing protection if your operating system (OS) does not have an inbuilt one.
- Install/run a good spyware removal/immunization tool like Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool.
- Do not surf the net without any of the above three tools in your system.
- Update your Windows OS on every second Tuesday of the month as a PC running on Windows is more at risk since Macintosh computers and PCs running a non-Windows operating system are less prone to malware problems, primarily because their market share is low enough that it’s not worth the effort to write malware for them.
- Do not click on a pop-up/pop-under that says “We have found your computer to be infected with virus. Click here to perform a full online scan.” The instant you click on that, you’re infected. Similar is the case with the ads that claim to speed up your system.
- Do not buy anything by clicking on the pop-ups/pop-unders or from any e-mail advertisements.
- Do not reply to a spam mail or click on its “unsubscribe” link. That simply informs the sender that your e-mail address is valid.
- Do not give your address, e-mail ID, phone number, bank account number, credit card number, or even any of your friends’ or relatives’ in a chat room or discussion forum.
- If needed to give out your bank account number or credit card number for buying something on the Internet, make sure the site is a trusted and secured one with 128-bit encryption. Make sure the URL of the page begins with https and not just http alone. There should be a padlock symbol in the status bar so that whatever information you send to that site is encrypted.
- Do not follow the links in an e-mail or rather do not open that e-mail itself which says you have won a lottery. Destroy the mail immediately and delete it even from the trash.
- The above recommendation applies to an e-mail which says that there is a huge amount left unclaimed being unable to bear the expenses for the claiming procedure somewhere in Nigeria or some other country in the world.
- Do not open any e-mail sent by unknown/unfamiliar senders or at least the attachments in such mails. Destroy those mails immediately.
- Destroy any e-mail that wishes you health, wealth or fortune or any damn goodness if you forward it to so many people, say 10, 50 or 100. Those mails take advantage of your fear.
- The passwords should be at least eight characters long and take care to include at least one numeral and one symbol in your passwords. The passwords should be nothing related to you or your family, like names, DOBs etc.
- If you hate pop-ups, block pop-ups by changing the necessary settings in the options/privacy tab area of your browser. If you use Microsoft Internet Explorer, keep its security level at medium or higher to block websites from downloading a file without your authorization. One good way to avoid pop-ups is to use the Firefox browser for surfing. This browser is faster than the Internet Explorer and much safer and has a pop-up blocking feature. This option can be activated or deactivated easily. Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer is another option for those using that browser. Interestingly, apart from pop-ups, nine other things annoy me while surfing the net. Find those peeves at “Top ten ways to annoy your website visitors.“
- Do not download free softwares from unreputed sites. Download and install software only from trusted sources.
- When you aren’t using your computer, shut the modem off or the computer itself.
- Empty cache/temporary files at the end of surfing.
Interestingly, Google is fighting against all malpractices on the Internet in a big way. For safer browsing experience on the Internet, Google is giving away essential softwares like Norton Antivirus, Spyware Doctor, Firefox etc., absolutely FREE, no catch, no signup, no registration, no gimmick, no purchase or no obligation. Apart from this, the pack also includes Google Earth for touring the world from your puter; Google Desktop to organize all your files and e-mails; StarOffice for word processing, spread sheet presentation etc., – a substitute for Microsoft Office; Adobe Reader; RealPlayer for playing popular media formats, organizing music and videos; Google Talk for getting connected to your friends via IM or free voice calls; Picasa for editing photos; Skype for making free voice and video calls to anyone else on Skype; Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer- useful in blocking those annoying pop-ups; Google Screensaver etc., everything for FREE. If you need any of these, go and get the Google pack.
Update: It seems Google has stopped providing it
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