How to Protect Yourself While Using the Internet

3866161-male-customer-service-representative-at-the-office-with-computerA great feature of the Internet is the ease of accessibility to a vast online world, but this can be a double edged sword. While users are given the convenience of checking out any topic under the sun, they are also exposed to the possibility of being infected – by a computer virus. This technical glitch can wreak the same damage that its clinical counterpart can cause, maybe even worse. Viruses have been known to disrupt entire business operations and cause millions of dollars in damage to business owners and entrepreneurs.

The Internet has allowed people to connect easily with each other and perform different transactions without having to leave home but has also opened up a venue for criminal and mischievous elements who want to cause damage to both people and property. The most common infraction is identity theft which has seen a surge of criminal interest as online transactions have increased. Thieves are becoming more ambitious and adept at starting scams and tricking people to reveal their personal information.

There are different ways that your computer can be infected. The most common cause is a computer virus. A virus is often a piece of software that is created and attached to a legitimate program. Every time that the program runs, the virus is activated and gets a chance to replicate and attach to other programs. It “infects” the other programs by damaging the content to make it useless in the end.

Another means of transporting viruses is through email messages. It can be attached to a message and can reproduce by emailing the infected message to the names that are listed down in a victim’s address book. Other damaging computer programs are known as Trojan horses. These operate on the same principle as the epic image that the Greeks used. They deceive users by portraying themselves as something fun or benign, for example a game, but actually have a more sinister purpose of causing serious damage to your computer when you run it. This type of program can erase your entire hard disk.

But despite the danger that these programs present, there are basic things that you can do to protect yourself from this type of damage. For one, be suspicious of the emails that you receive. Do not open any messages, especially those with attachments, from senders who are not known to you. Make sure that you delete these emails immediately. Do not reply to pop up messages or emails that state that your account is questionable and requests for confirmation of personal information. This tactic is often used by scammers to alarm users and cause them to react instantly. Use common sense to judge if the address of the sender is trying to deceive you into believing it is from someone else.

Other ways of making sure that you are safe when you use the Internet include being selective of websites that you buy from. Purchasing an item online requires the submission of your credit card details and other personal information which can be easily misused. Do a quick check by looking at the browser window and see if it displays a closed padlock icon. The URL should also begin with the prefix “https” because it is indicative of a secure address and it means that the site  makes use of encryption to protect it from hackers and other malicious users.

Lastly, be careful when you use public computers such as those at Internet cafes and libraries because you do not know what items are stored in these terminals. These units are usually on open networks which mean that they can be monitored by other users without you knowing it. Be especially mindful of logging out of sites you have personal details stored.

About Caroline Swenney

Hi My name is Caroline Swenney and I set up this site to share some simple advice on computer related problems. I got tired of watching my parents' pc collapse under the weight of all the garbage they didn't know what to do with. I hope you find the information on here spares you from the same fate. Feel free to contact me on my google+ account
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One Response to How to Protect Yourself While Using the Internet

  1.  avatar Mike F says:

    Nice summary. My mum is always a sucker for those phishing emails. I tell her to look carefully at the sender but she’s so trusting i hope it’s not just a matter of time before she hands over her credit card details

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