10 rules for easy and safe websurfing (Update)

I’ve posted this article before, but everyone needs an update now and then.

1. Get an Antivirus program and make sure you Keep it Updated. There are free ones available that are every bit as good as the overpriced ones. I use AVG Antivirus. You can get the free version here.

2. Make sure your security settings are correct. Click Start, Settings, Control Panel in Windows XP and earlier, Start, Control Panel in Vista and Windows 7, and on Windows 8 (Deep Breath!), Open Control Panel by swiping in from the right edge of the screen, tapping Search (or if you’re using a mouse, pointing to the upper-right corner of the screen, moving the mouse pointer down, and then clicking Search), entering Control Panel in the search box, and then tapping or clicking Control Panel. Make sure your Firewall is on, your Antivirus is Updated, and your Windows Updates are set to Automatic.

3. Get some good anti-Spyware software, such as Malwarebytes and Super Antispyware. These are both free. I use both, because one catches stuff the other does not. If you must use only one, use Malwarebytes. These products also require updating. Avoid ANY such product advertised in a popup ad or “Scare” ad. See Defenestration.

4. Please don’t use illegal file sharing sites. Whether you think taking copyrighted stuff for free is immoral, illegal, or fattening is between you and God; The Real Issue is that you can pick up so much C.R.A.P. from such sites that it’s not worth it. Such sites may auto-install Ransomware, Adware, Spyware, Viruses, Trojans…. You get the idea. Unless you like having your computer cleaned up every couple of months, Just Don’t.

5. Use Windows update to keep your version of Windows less vulnerable to hacking and malicious sites and software. ( If you use a Macintosh, Don’t think you’re immune! Use their update system.) Automatic update makes this reasonably painless. To turn on Automatic updates, click Start-Control Panel in XP, Vista and Windows 7 or Start-Settings-Control Panel in earlier versions. Click Automatic Updates and choose your options. You might have to click “Switch to classic view” on the left-hand side of the control panel before you can see the “Automatic Updates” icon. You will get no further updates for Windows XP after April, 2014!

6. Get a better browser. Your browser is what you use to actually view Web pages. Internet Explorer is the default browser that comes with Windows. You can do Way better with Firefox or Chrome.  They are more versatile, sometimes faster, and more customizable with add-ons called extensions.

7. Don’t let kids on the Web unsupervised. The Web is just like a big city; there are lots of great things to see, but the difference on the Web, is that the Red Light District is never more than one click away. I’m not trying to scare you, only make you aware of the danger. You may never accidentally click on a Porn site (It hasn’t happened to me in 5 years), but there is plenty of it out there, and kids are naturally curious. There are also sick predators that hang out in chat rooms and Blog sites, and they can pose a serious danger to too-trusting kids.

8. If you bank or shop online, take sensible precautions. Use a Strong password. What’s a strong password? It’s easier to tell you what’s Not a strong password.

Noodles (Any real word, in any language, can be easily cracked, even backwards)

04151955 (Your date of birth, Wedding anniversary, Phone Number, Social Security Number, Driver’s license Number, or any other personally identifying name or number. Someone stealing your wallet could easily figure it out.)

What’s a really strong password?

#k~4oM8$p1

You say, I can’t remember something like that? I don’t blame you. Here’s the next best thing.

Iybosotsp

Sounds like gibberish, right? Not! It’s the first letters of the first sentence in this paragraph! (If you bank or shop…) Now, isn’t that easier to remember than Iybosotsp? Of course it is! So, pick a favorite saying, Bible verse, speech, etc. and use the first (or second!) letters in the first 8-10 words. If you want to improve on it further, add a couple of numbers and symbols in the middle somewhere. And if you get an email from a site you use telling you to change your password, do not click any links in the email. Type the address into your browser in the usual way and change your password.

9. Watch out for fake websites. Scammers and spammers often will build a website that looks a lot like a legit site. This is common with sites such as PayPal, banks, eBay, and the like. This is why you should never click a link in an email that purports to be from such a site. If you need to log in to your bank or other financial or shopping website, always type the address into the address bar or use a bookmark you’ve previously made.

If you already have malware on your computer, it’s possible for it to redirect even your legit site requests to a scam site. Check the address bar in your browser for the actual address of the site you’re visiting. Be alert for misspellings, such as payapl.com or bakofamerica.com. Look for the padlock symbol and “https” in the address bar. Https means a secure site, and you should always look for it when conducting business on the internet. If you ever get unexpected results when trying to visit a site or conduct a web search, run a malware scan immediately.

10. There is a LOT of really Good software available free or cheap on the Web. There is also a lot of really Bad software out there. It’s not all malware, some of it is just very low quality. The low quality stuff can cause you serious problems, the bad stuff can install all those nasties we just talked about in #4, above. How do you tell the good stuff from the bad stuff? DON’T EVER download something advertised in a pop-up ad, for one thing. Get your downloaded software from reputable sites. A good place to start is Ninite.com. They make it super simple to install a whole lot of free software goodness with just a few clicks. Or, ask me! I will never recommend something I haven’t used.

For even more empowering technology info, read my new book, “Deciphering the 21st Century,” Available now!

Click here to read all about it.

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