According to a 2009 study conducted by cNet News the average American spends approximately thirteen hours online each week. (Link) Most of our browsing is safe; opening an email, refreshing a website, and viewing search results. On the other hand, we know not to click on that link to help out an oppressed prince from a foreign country, the personal email from Bill Gates, or the chat invite from CuteBikerGal227.
What about the things we find online that fall between what we know is safe and know to be dangerous? Continue reading
Like your car, your computer needs to be tuned up regularly to keep it running safely and efficiently. Use these tips to keep your computer safe. If you don’t want to try to preform these tasks yourself, take your computer and this article to a trusted technician and ask them to preform a tune up.
-Patch your operating system software. Vendors like Apple and Microsoft release software updates (called “patches”) to fix security and performance issues. Microsoft releases patches monthly and Apple releases patches on an adhoc basis. Your PC or Mac may automatically install these updates, but, if they don’t, its important for you to turn this feature on.
Here’s how for Windows:
Here’s how for Macs:
-Turn on your personal firewall. If the firewall is not enabled on your computer, hackers may be able to connect to your computer without you knowing about. Firewalls block unwanted attempts to connect to your computer.
Here’s how for Windows:
Here’s how for Macs:
-Make sure your anti-virus software is up-to-date. Thousands of new viruses are created and released each day. Your anti-virus software should be configured to update your anti-virus software with the latest virus information. Not sure if your software is up to date? Check your anti-virus software vendor’s website for information on how to check to see if your software is up-to-date.
Not using anti-virus software? EarthLink Protection Control software is free to subscribers.
-Back up your files. What do you do when your computer hard drive crashes or a virus makes it impossible for you to use your computer? Recovery is easy if you regularly back up your files to another source other than your computer’s hard drive. Both Windows and Mac operating systems have utilities to help you back up your files. Make sure you back up your files to an external hard drive or use a online back up service like Carbonite
-Make sure your passwords are strong. Create strong passwords that protect your computer, your data and online identity. Here are some tips for creating strong passwords.
-Install phisher protection. Fraudsters often use cleverly worded emails or strategically placed search results to trick unsuspecting victims into visiting bogus websites. These bogus websites often attempt to solicit personal information or install malware without your knowledge. For more information, visit the phisher blog article . SiteAdvisor is a free service that check websites you visit against a list of known phisher sites.
-Security check up. Not sure where to get started? EarthLink and Symatec have teamed up to provide you with a free computer security check up tool. Visit the EarthLink security center here .
Cyber criminals are always looking for new ways to target and exploit unsuspecting victims. Some criminals use phishers which are fraudulent web sites or emails that trick unsuspecting victims into providing sensitive financial information. (More on phishers here.) Each year during tax season, be on the lookout for unusual emails that appear to be from the IRS.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft starts when someone uses your personal information to commit a crime without your knowledge. Personal information like your name, social security number and credit card number is very valuable to criminals. Often, identity theft goes undetected, is hard to investigate and can occur far from the victim’s home. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. Thieves often use the stolen information to obtain fraudulent credit cards, create fraudulent documentation like driver’s licenses, obtain an bank account in your name or obtain a loan in your name. Often victims are not responsible for these fraudulent accounts, but, resolving these issues is a time consuming and often frustrating experience.
They key to reduce your risk from identity theft is education and prevention.