The Internet has both good elements and bad elements. No doubt, you are well aware of the good elements of the Internet. To better protect yourself, you should familiarize yourself with many of the tricks and techniques used by the bad elements of the Internet that attempt to take advantage of you.
Ways To Protect Yourself
There are a number of simple, proactive steps that you can take to make your computer much harder to break into. These steps are listed below.
1. Automatically download and install security patches
By automatically downloading and installing patches, you will be protected from older threats that are still attacking machines on the Internet. For instance, the Code Red worm was released on July 17, 2001. It only affected machines that did not apply a patch that Microsoft released on June 18, 2001. Despite the fact that the patch has been available for over 4 years, there are still unpatched machines on the Internet that are infected with Code Red.
2. Use a personal firewall
By using a personal firewall, you gain control over how your computer communicates with other computers. A firewall will both block a number of probes and attacks from the Internet will simultaneously allowing you to determine which programs on your computer are allowed to send information to the Internet.
3. Use strong passwords
By using strong passwords, you decrease the odds of having someone else impersonate you online. Imagine the difficulty of explaining an inflammatory email sent to your friends and family from your account by someone else, or realizing that someone accessed your online banking account and transferred all of your money to a foreign bank account. Strong passwords will decrease the odds of events like these happening.
4. Use antivirus software
Antivirus software will protect your computer from most viruses that are on the Internet. However, almost as important as having antivirus software is updating your antivirus definitions. Since dozens of new viruses are written every week, having antivirus defintions that are even 3 months out of date could make your computer vulnerable to hundreds of viruses that you would be protected against if your antivirus definitions were kept current.
5. Use anti-spyware software
Spyware is bundled with many "free" downloads on the Internet, and can decrease the speed of your computer and send information about your browsing habits to third-party companies. By routinely running anti-spyware software on your computer, you can limit the amount of spyware you're running.
6. Be careful what you click on
By being careful about what you click on, you can avoid a large number of the problems listed above. The Internet contains a large population of unscrupulous individuals who are looking to take advantage of you, so you should make sure you know what to expect when you click on a link.
7. Consider alternative software
For different reasons, certain software packages are targeted by viruses, worms, and hackers more frequently than others. There are some alternatives programs that will provide similar functionality but have few security issues.
Things to watch out for :
New computer viruses, worms, and trojan horses are written daily, so you need to run antivirus software with updated antivirus definitions.
Spyware can slow your computer to a crawl or send your personal information to a third party. Anti-spyware software will help you detect and remove spyware from your computer.
Phishing attacks are attempts to trick you into reveling sensitive information to a third party, such as your social security number or bank account passwords. The information obtained through phishing is often used for identity theft.
Spam is a major nuisance, and can be used to transmit viruses and spyware, and to perform phishing attacks.
5. Nigeria 419 scams and other money scams
Nigeria 419 scams play on the greed of the receiver to try and trick them into sending large amounts of cash to foreign countries with the hopes of receiving an even larger payout. They have been around for over 20 years, but still manage to snare new victims. Offers to send you additional money from auctions or from lottery winnings are also scams.
6. Online harassment
Because of the apparent anonymity provided by the Internet, people often behave in inappropriate ways. If you are being harassed online, tell the harasser to stop. There are laws in the state of Illinois to protect you from electronic harassment.
If you have other questions, please e-mail DataSecurity@luc.edu.