Internet : How safe are we?


Viruses, spams, and other Internet-spawned threats are one aspect of the web we can do without. However, wishful thinking is not going to be of much help. Online threats are, and most probably will remain, an ever-present nuisance as long as people continue to use the Internet. Though we can never fully eradicate them, we can take steps to safeguard ourselves.

The PC and the Internet have become integral to our daily life. It’s indeed become difficult to imagine a day spent without using the PC or the Internet for some purpose or the other, whether professional or casual.

In such a scenario, it’s become even more important to take proper steps to secure one’s computer from Internet-based threats. Spam, phishing, and of course viruses, are just some of the more well-known among these. But it’s seen “well-known” is more a matter of perception, with many still not fully aware of their adverse effects or how to counter them.
Many vendors have taken steps to educate netizens about the omnipresent hazards on the Internet. Most recently, software giant, Microsoft, has adopted the “Surf Safe. Surf Smart” mantra. “Make your online experience more safe and secure” is what Microsoft is propagating.

Here we list a few of the more prominent Internet threats:

* Trojans There is some misconception about what exactly a Trojan is. Contrary to popular belief, Trojans are not exactly computer viruses. They’re computer program designed to hide their true intent. So, a Trojan appears to do one thing, but in reality it performs a far different function. The reason for their notoriety is that Trojans are mostly use to install backdoors into the computer.

In this, they’re akin to computer viruses. A Trojan usually requires more memory than usually needed by a particular program to run.. This can be used to detect Trojans, though of course by that time if there is any malicious content, it’ll already have been executed!

* Identity theft: The Internet boom has revolutionized the way we operate bank accounts or pay the bills. Birth of online banking is the result of this revolution. With online money transactions and banking come threats of identity theft. In this, hackers steal the identity of the user. They can then “pose” as them and carry out transaction in their name. Users must be vigilant to protect themselves against identity theft, especially while using bank account numbers, credit card pins, social security codes, etc.

* Phishing: Another threat that has gained widespread notoriety in recent years, phishing aims at acquiring sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords, credit card details, etc., by masquerading as a legitimate website or email.

* Spamming: Traditionally, spamming was use to send bogus mails, which proved to be irritating for people. But nowadays, it’s being used as a medium to deliver phishing links, viruses, etc.

* Malware: These are malicious codes that replicate and cause information or data loss from the computer.

* Spyware: These are codes specially designed to spy on a particular computer. While acting as a spy, it collects and decodes all important and private information or data of the host and transfers the same to the parent computer who actually designed it or is using it.

* Adware: These are unwanted pop-ups on website. They’re a nuisance when surfing the Internet, as they slow down browsing speeds. They’re basically linked, related, or unrelated ads pertaining to the website.

Now that we have discussed some online threats, let’s take a look at some simple ways in which one can protect oneself when online:

* Awareness: “Forewarned is Forearmed”, knowing the various online hazards is the first step in countering them. Software vendors, banks, government organizations, etc., are taking proactive steps to educate and spread awareness about online threats. Information is freely available on their websites and lists ways in which computers can be protected from threats in different scenarios – whether in office or at home.

* Security Software: A good security solution can prevent much harm in the future. There are many such solutions available. Nowadays, there are also end-to-end security solutions available in the market, i.e., solutions that provide protection against different threats.

An efficient firewall is very important if you’re a frequent user of the Internet. It’ll keep out most viruses that are present on the web. Another thing to be kept in mind is to keep updating your security solution. This will keep up with the latest viruses and malware. Most companies have made this easier by providing automatic updates for their products over the Internet.

* Password: The all-important password, it’s a common but highly effective protection for data. So, being casual about the security of the password is not advisable. Make it a point you remember it. Avoid scribbling it anywhere or sharing it with anyone, even your most trusted ones. Including special characters like (@, #, $) and numerical (1, 2, 3 ) are always better than cliches, such as birth dates, family member names, postcodes, etc. Changing password frequently is also a good option, provided you don’t forget them!

* Sign Out: When using various online emailing agents or even messengers and social networking accounts, ensure you log off at the end of the session. This is even more important in case you’re accessing these sites from a public computer (cybercafes, etc.)

* The New “Lock” Icon: Before transacting on any site, check for the yellow lock at the right hand side bottom of the page. This assures the security of the site.

* Check if the Site is Secure: Usually the URL of most sites starts with “http//:” Due to security threats web developers’ have now started adding extra encryption and security layers to their webpages. Financial institutions are common examples of such sites. Payment gateways and online trading sites that require your personal information are other examples.

All these sites will always have an additional “s” in the URL, i.e., “https//:”. This simple addition is a guarantee that the site is secured. While conducting online financial transactions or putting in your personal details, always check for this.

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10 comments for “Internet : How safe are we?

  1. May 22, 2008 at 10:30 am

    Good Blog. I will continue reading it in the future. Nice layout too.

    Aaron Wakling

  2. September 22, 2008 at 10:21 am

    Hi been surfing the net for Clickz Internet Marketing Solutions and found your blog reg t : How safe are we? | eThos from Hemant Soreng. You relly know your stuff! I’d like to see more posts here. Will definitely bookmark this one and come back.

  3. November 1, 2008 at 11:57 am

    Thanks a lot for this post

  4. November 1, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    Good post.

  5. November 3, 2008 at 3:28 am

    I completely agree

  6. November 5, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    Hmm. Good.

  7. November 11, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    Good blog

  8. November 12, 2008 at 5:46 am

    Thanks for the great tips.

  9. December 7, 2008 at 4:52 am

    Good post.

  10. December 7, 2008 at 4:52 am

    Good post.

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