For example, if one uses a computer and the Internet for only creating documents and using email; that use would be categorized as one of less risk. On the other hand, if one uses the computer to indiscriminately surf the Internet, or even surfing large numbers of sites on a regular basis; that use would be categorized as high risk.
Additionally, I define risky use of an Internet-connected computer as including the following unsafe habits:
- Use of weak passwords or ones containing personal information, dictionary words, or proper names, etc., which are easily guessed.
- Use of email in an unsafe manner by opening unsolicited emails and clicking on their links. Phishing attacks usually come in the form of unsolicited emails urging you to click on a link;
- Visiting unsafe Internet websites such as those of celebrities, pornographic sites, and any unknown site whose link resides in an email or social networking service such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or MySpace. Many of the above sites can contain malicious code which will inject malware onto your computer.
- Placing general trust in emails, websites, and social networking sites. Instead one should have a healthy sense of distrust, suspicion, even mild fear when using the Internet.
Everyone who uses the Internet needs a minimum of a good anti-virus system, and firewall. From there an Internet user could also add additional layers of security based on how safely or risky they use the computer and Internet.
Additional layers include:
The physical use of the computer. For example, not letting anyone else use your computer; and having an “isolated” computer that you use only for online financial transactions such as banking transactions or paying bills online (and not for surfing the web). The objective with physically isolating your computer(s) is to avoid having other people use your computer in a risky manner, thus avoiding malware infection as result of their use.
An additional layer might be using virtual partitions or “sandboxing” while surfing the Internet. This layer protects your computer from damaging infection if you should get malware onboard.
The proper use of passwords, such as using strong passwords and not using the same one on more that one account will help avoid compromise of your computer or Internet account.
So you see, it does depend on how safely or risky you use the computer and the Internet. But just to be on the safe side; set up strong, layered security protection even if you’re categorized as a less risky user. It can’t hurt…and it may save you from being infected with malware and suffering the losses usually associated with a malware attack.
Be very careful…it’s dangerous out there.
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