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Top 10 Ways to Protect Yourself on the Internet

Web Security

Top 10 Ways to Protect Yourself on the Internet

Constantly in the media we are hearing of people’s personal information being stolen
and exploited from the web.  This week Information Week reported that 70 of the top 100 web sites  either hosted malicious content or contained hidden links designed to redirect users to malicious sites.

Whoa!  Is the Internet still safe to use? My number 1 tip for staying safe on the Internet was only use trusted websites…this isn’t quite accurate anymore!

Working in web application security I am privilege to work with some of the greatest minds in this field who really make you look at the Internet in a whole new way.  I decided to ask them, “What do you recommend to protect yourself and your activities on the Internet?” Here’s what they said:

  1. Get yourself a credit card with a low limit that you only use for Internet transactions;  Easy to track unauthorised use and if it is exploited, risk is minimized.  Also look for one with Fraud Protection & zero liability.
  2. Never click on a link you recieve in an email; You don’t really want that cheap viagra!  If you really want to visit the website, retype the url into the browser.
  3. Keep you OS, Browser and Virus Scanner patched and up to date; Don’t ingnore the warning messages from Microsoft and others in the bottom left of your screen.
  4. Use a ‘throwaway’ e-mail if I have to fill out a form on a site to download something;  create an extra account at Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo.
  5. Keep individual passwords for the sites that really matter (ie. your banking sites, e-mail, etc…) ; You don’t want all your accounts to be compromised if one is exploited. Probably not a good idea to make your Facebook password the same as your internet banking one!
  6. Never enter any personal information over an unencrypted connection; No brainer!!  Look for that padlock (Although still proceed with caution!)
  7. Never accept unsigned or unknown certificates for sites that need your personal info;  You want to be careful who has your personal info!
  8. Turn off your wireless and Bluetooth on your Laptop when you are not using it;  A great way to invite unwanted vistors!
  9. Don’t leave your computer connected to a hotel network or public wifi more than you need to be;  People can find you and your personal info very easily!!
  10. Block browser popups; Not only are they annoying but a great way of transporting malware

To be totally safe and secure:

  1. Don’t turn your computer on
  2. When you must break (1), do not connect to the internet
  3. When you must break (2), telnet to port 80

Please leave your personal tips in the comments!

Thanks Erik, Pat & Joe

Stay Safe & Secure

15 Comments

  1. Michael H

    Make sure your email address is never published on a website or in the code of a website. People have technology to scan websites a pick up email addresses and then you will get lots of spam. If you need to publish your email address, write it like “name at domain dot com”.

    Reply
  2. Patrick W

    Change your passwords at least once a year if not more often.

    Read the Privacy Policy of all sites you do business with.

    Reply
  3. Guy from Schneier Blog

    @ number 4, might want to mention mailinator.com

    I would also say, that telnetting to port 80 is less of a good idea than sshing.

    Reply
  4. Ped

    Michael: ‘like “name at domain dot com”.’

    You think the “technology” can’t overcome this? I bet any decent email scanner can recognize any at, [at], .nospam, and similar simple encodings. At least if I would ever code some scanner, it would work over that if not in first version, than in second for sure.

    I still believe the best defense against spam is to NEVER EVER buy/use anything which came to you in form of spam. Ideally have strong anti spam filters so you are not even exposed to brand names (spam content).

    After all, sending the spam costs something. So there must be profit, otherwise nobody would pay for it. So there must be people who use the information in spam (either directly by buying something, or by significantly changing their behavior after exposure to such content, so in the end the investor does profit).

    Once there will be nobody affected by spam content, the spam problem will solve alone.

    This is of course as ridiculous thinking, as thinking the “at” encoding will make your email spam safe. Neither will ever happen. But I keep dreaming.

    Reply

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