Top 10 tips for staying safe online

Many shoppers prefer to stay online this Christmas, rather than deal with crowded shopping centres. But for those customers wanting to remain at home, a new report warns them of the need to stay safe online.

TrendLab, Trend Micro’s research and development and support centre, has released a report warning shoppers of various threats online. These can include virus-infected greeting cards, fake charity sites and gift cards that steal personal data.

The report lists the top 10 tips for staying safe while shopping online.

Always keep your security software working and up-to-date. “It’s always surprising to hear that many internet users do not have up-to-date security software,” Trend Micro Australia’s key partner’s manager Adam Biviano says. “Especially if you use a laptop on an unprotected wireless network, such as a café, you need to have the most up-to-date protection to stop online theft of your details and, ultimately, your identity.”

Always install, update and maintain firewalls and intrusion detection software. “All the protection in the world is only so effective if firewalls are maintained,” Biviano says. “If your firewall settings are set to minimal, or turned off altogether, then it won’t matter what software you have or how up-to-date it is, hackers and thieves will get by it.”

Check with your internet service provider (ISP) to see what protection is offered by the network. “Some ISPs offer a very good level of security while others offer almost none. Give your provider a call, and if they don’t offer the level you think you need, purchase software that does. It is always better to be safe than sorry.”

Always make sure you are using an anti-spam product for each email address you have. “We all know the scenario. You return from a well-earned holiday to find your inbox crammed with unwanted and unwarranted emails and those important emails being rejected because your inbox is over its size limit. A simple anti-spam solution will help keep your inbox for the email that you want to read.”

Beware of web pages that require software installation. “Agreeing to the installation of one program is often a backdoor for unwarranted programs, malware and spyware. Always check the end-user agreement before you click ‘agree’ and if the program you want also installs other programs, cancel the application. Sometimes, you never know what you’re agreeing to.”

Utilise a website reputation service. “Simple and easy to use web-reputation services, that are often free-of-charge, are perhaps the easiest way to ensure that the websites you’re visiting are safe. If you have a web-reputation service, it will warn you of unsafe pages before you click on them or enter your details.”

Utilise free security tools to scan the computer at home. “Many people are tempted to check their work emails over the holidays, or simply browse the web. Keep your family safe from online threats with free and easy to use software that continually monitors for spam, web threats, viruses and other threats that could pose a danger to your home computer.”

Keep informed about the latest out-breaks and threats. “By simply visiting a threat tracking website, businesses and consumers can check what’s out there, and whether it will affect them. If you notice an outbreak of spyware that steals people’s details, among other things, it’s easy to avoid the web or maintain a greater level of vigilance until the security companies can plug holes or uncover the criminals prowling the web.”

Beware of unexpected or strange-looking emails. “Simply don’t open any emails that you don’t recognise. By opening an email you could be exposing your computer to harmful malware and spyware. If you don’t recognise the sender, don’t open it.”

Make sure you have the right level of protection. “Anti-virus programs are a dime a dozen, but not all protect you from the right threats these days are not just viruses that disrupt your computer and delete information but rather professional criminals who want your personal details, banking information and credit card numbers. Simple anti-virus software won’t stop these threats so you might need to upgrade to a full web protection software package.”


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