Being secure and safe on the Internet
There are many ways that the average user can protect themselves. Then there are some more advanced options for those individuals that truly want to be safe.
To be honest and brief, the best way to be safe is to not be connected to the Internet at all. However, with today’s technology, this option is not going to work for most people.
One of the best options or first steps is never use an Email program. Instead, it is better to use Internet browsers, such as: Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera and many others. Many browsers allow you to use add-ons or extensions that can increase your security. They also stop popup and bad 4th party ads. Please refer to my earlier post about Helpful Browser Add-ons, for more details about this.
Did you notice that I did not include Microsoft browsers?
As a simplified rule, I avoid them and Windows Live, as it is an Email program that imports your emails into your computer and is also like a browser in its appearance. Windows Live replaced the old Outlook and Outlook Express programs, which imported your Emails to your computer.
Importing or Downloading Emails
The issue with importing your Emails is, that once you open it to look at the content, you are informing the computer that you accept its content. Therefore, if there is a hidden virus or other bad code, your anti-virus program may not catch the infection fast enough.
On the other hand, if you use a web browser to view the content the anti-virus program is already scanning that browser program and you are more likely to open the infection on the provider’s server and not your computer. So, you have a kind of double protection that way.
Everyone loves to have easy logins, to have the computer save the information and/or use the same password for everything. The sad truth is, that, that is the worst thing to do!
The simple and safe rule that I use, is to have a different password for every device, program, website, etc that needs a login.
As for passwords, it is becoming more and more standard practice with websites login and more, to use at least 8 characters. Of these characters, we are to use Upper and Lower Case letters, Numbers, and some Symbols.
Then there is one more step that I recommend and that is to have several different Email addresses. One that is for the majority of your uses, one for a backup, and one for potential spamming. I recommend they all be with free third party services. Please refer to my post about Email Services and Providers for more details.
Never use your Email and its password to log into your computer! Windows 10 wants to make people think that they need to do this. You DO NOT need to. This will create more problems for you in the end.
Routers Security VS Modem/Routers Security
Internet Provider's modem today, come with built-in routers and wireless services. They will always say that their default settings are safe. However, they do not take into account many other forms of security issues that do not affect themselves. This is why; it is best to have a secondary router used for security.
If you choose to go this route of having a secondary router, then it is wise to have the modem's wireless feature(s) turned off.
When using a secondary router, it is helpful to change the defaults of several items. One of the most important is to hide the wireless name and give its own IP number set and passwords. And make sure you are not using the guest feature.
Free anti-virus programs do a great job, as long as you remember that is all you get. Even though many of them can be set for automated updates, it is still wise to check all updates for the anti-virus checks and the program itself. It is also wise to make sure it does not go beyond the expiry date.
Please refer to my post on Anti-Virus Programs for more details.
UPDATED Oct., 2018
Within recent time of this update, it had become evident that Mac Operating Systems now need anti-virus programs and many companies have been stepping up to give consumers more options to protect them from bad software.
In earlier posts, I have talked about this as well. There is an assortment of programs for this and they do have function in keeping your computer safe and secure.
Links To Consider:
Advanced Features and Options
There are a variety of these services available. From software, to plug-in/add-ons, to websites, all of them have their uses and all change from time to time.
The main goal here with VPN (Virtual Private Network) is to keep your communication between locations safe and secure.
Proxy services can do the same thing, but their main goal is to keep you hidden from your final Internet destination.
In both cases, the more web services that you log into, such as Banks, Google, Yahoo, etc. now realize that you may not be accessing from your home and will send you security measures to make sure that it is still you and not a hacker.
With this option, it is clearly a more advanced choice and it is a common practice with many services today. As a common every day user, you will never know if that location you have reached on the Internet is using the following features or similar steps.
Firewall / IP Tables
Most people have heard of Firewall and to make sure it is active. In short simple language, it contains a complex set of IP Tables. This set of code is customizable to a coder to help stop bad software, hackers, etc from doing damage to your location.
Fan2Ban & Other Software
These kinds of software keeps an automatic check on the history of the Internet traffic based on the perimeters set out by the administer. It reduces the workload of tracking and blocking bad users.
Virtual Hosting Decoys
When a black hat hacker succeeds in getting into a web server, this option can be used as a deterrent from damaging the true machine. Once that bad user gets past the modem/router and into the web server, they will see what they think this is the final destination, therefore protecting you from any further damages.
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