5 June 2015

A Quick Guide to Safe Internet Surfing

Image Source : Cybersmart

As the internet continues to grow, with almost all PC users utilising the web on a daily basis, it is important to be aware of the variety of scams, offers, malware and suspicious activity that are an active threat on the internet today.

One major scam that is prominent on many web pages is a get rich scam, whereby internet users are tricked into believing that they have won a large sum of money. If it is too good to be true it most likely is.  Similarly internet users may be offered free prizes or free PC upgrades from unknown sources, such as improved computer speed, extra disk space and free virus scans. Once again if it is too good to be true it most likely is. These offers are designed as a scam in order to infect your computer with potentially harmful malware and viruses or to gather banking details.

Additionally, the internet houses many virus/malware programs that seem reputable or are disguised as a reputable program. As such it is advised for internet users to download any programs that they require from the web page of the actual program and not from any third party webpages which advertise a “free” download. Furthermore, internet pop ups claiming that they can provide a solution to problems on your computer may also lead to malware and virus issues. One pop up in particular claims to fix a registry issue, however once downloaded it has the ability to infect your computer, making it slower and causing it to lose some functionality. Similarly, bundled software and/or tool bars that come with free programs should be avoided, as they have a similar affect on your computer, resulting in sluggish performance and loss of functionality.

Internet users should be aware of suspicious emails and links. Any email received from an unknown source should be pre-cautiously dealt with or avoided if possible.  These emails are often disguised to look as though they come from familiar companies or government agencies.  Some antivirus programs have the ability to scan any emails for viruses or suspicious activity, however if you don’t have an antivirus with these capabilities, you should not respond to and avoid any unknown emails. Additionally, any links or attachments that seem suspicious should be avoided as they may lead to your computer being infected. These suspicious attachments/links are prominent in unknown emails, as well as on online games and social media games, so it is also essential that parents educate their children about these potential threats to their computer.  If a file attached is an exe file be very careful before downloading.

For further details concerning the issue of online and computer safety, the Australian government provides a web page that educates internet users about smart surfing and avoiding potential threats.

Sources: Cybersmart