Easy guide to internet security

When looking for an easy guide to internet security for the typical computer user, it might be said there are two great truths about security:

  • Nearly everyone underestimates the amount and place of their risks.
  • A hacker succeeds by attacking a weak link in a system, not by attacking the most strongly protected ones.

Assuming that you aren’t being specifically targeted, moderately secured computers and networks will cause hackers to shift their attack elsewhere. Spend a little time learning about computer risks, then strengthen each of the weak links in your system.

Types of Security Problems

Computer security isn’t as intuitive as locking your front door, because there are many types of attacks and goals:

  •    Destroying or corrupting computer data: Making files unusable or making a whole computer unusable.
  •    Stealing computer data: Taking credit card numbers, email addresses, company information, etc.
  •    Stopping computer from functioning properly: Blocking incoming traffic so that intended users cannot get access, etc.
  •    Misusing computer resources: Sending spam without you knowing it, etc.

Not all of these needs concern you — for example online gamers are often more interested in performance than protecting their private data. Such decisions require consideration — it is easier and safer just to follow basic, common, security practices. Once good habits are established, security will only cost you a few minutes a month.

Virus Protection

Could a company manage having its network down for days, even hours? This could happen if a software virus is introduced into their environment. A virus can be transmitted to a network via email, by downloading the file from the Internet or by direct copy from a removable media source. The most common way to contract a virus is to pick it up via email. Virus Protection software is able to intercept and isolate the virus before it creates any havoc within an organisation.

Since new viruses appear virtually daily, virus protection can only be effective if the virus signature file and the virus engine are kept up to date. Most virus protection software can automatically update itself so it is aware of the most recent viruses. Even in cases where both of these are kept up to date a virus may still slip though and create a disastrous situation. Leaving a PC or server without any Virus protection whatsoever provides the recipe for disaster. Even though virus protection is not a completely secure solution, the installation of virus protection software provides some peace of mind and is better than not having it in place.

E-mail Spoofing, Phishing and Identity Theft

E-mail spoofing is the sending of e-mails that looks like it comes from someone else. They are generally sent to random recipients. In the hope that the email looks like an official message sent by a legitimate organisation that you deal with such as a bank, e-Bay or an organisation that deals with your personal information.
For the most part, e-mail spoofing is used to get you to open a simple piece of spam because you think it’s from someone legitimate. The links in the email might expose you to viruses or other malicious attack.
A different type of e-mail spoofing, like the example described above, is known as “phishing” and is more dangerous.

The emails typically request financial details, passwords and other personal information. Furthermore, explaining that if you don’t update your details that your account may be suspended.
Links in the e-mail take you to a website that also looks like the real thing. However, the site is just a front, and the goal of the scam is to trick you into giving away personal information, sometimes for spam lists, sometimes so that the perpetrators can steal your account information or even your identity.

If you need help with your internet security don’t hesitate to contact us.