After a friend recently told me about his Facebook Account security broke, I decided to take a few minutes to address some of the issues most folks have these days trying to keep information out of the hands of online thieves and Why is it Important to Stay Safe online. I was very tempted to write something that basically told everyone to just give up on Windows and use a Macintosh but that’s not always realistic for many folks and just seems to stir up too many negative emotions, Ultimately all three of the main computing platforms; Windows, Linux, and Mac suffer from similar online threats so here are four things anyone (including Mac users) can do to improve their own online safety without going to extremes.
Here are the few tips that can help you to stay safe online and if you don't follow them, you will soon realize that Why is it Important to Stay Safe online. But if you don't realize that Why is it Important to Stay Safe online, you are probably going to get some big scam sooner or later by professional scammers.
1. Always keep your system, browser, and support software updated.
Even if you completely ignore everything else on this page and follow this one guideline you will dramatically increase your resistance to online threats. Run Windows Update, or Software Update (on Mac) at least once a week or better yet, set it up to automatically check and install updates nightly. Don’t forget to update support software such as Flash and Adobe Acrobat Reader since they have often proven to be just as vulnerable to exploitation as the browser software itself.
2. Try not to use Internet Explorer (Windows) or Safari (Mac/Windows)
Since they seem to exploit magnets over the last few years and by simply not using them in favour of Firefox or Opera you can significantly reduce the chances of either being spoofed/phished or being force-fed a nasty ActiveX control or Java applet. If you simply can’t live without IE then make sure you are running the latest version and I would even go as far as turning off ActiveX support altogether! Mac users don’t have to worry as much with Safari but I would still recommend they restrict usage to only known websites and use Firefox or Opera for everything else.
3. Try not to type your password in public.
I know, sounds completely whacked and paranoid but you would be surprised how easy it is to “shoulder-surf” someone’s password while sipping an ultra-mocha at the local Starbucks. Instead, use a well known encrypted e-wallet (Password on the Mac and SplashID on the PC are good examples) to safely store commonly used passwords. While this keeps the wandering eyes at bay it also helps guard against some forms of keyloggers should you manage to get infected by spyware.
NOTE: Don’t use the built-in password saving features of either your browser or Windows, they don’t provide any significant encryption protection and are easy to break into.
4. Use common sense!
Installing anti-virus and anti-spyware software, limiting how much you reuse passwords, and being careful to spell URLs correctly (believe it or not, most miss-typed URLs lead to spyware infested pages) can all make your online experience significantly less risky. If you know you are going into a dangerous part of the web then take extra precautions such as not running your browser under an administrator account (or root account under Mac/Linux) and scan whatever you download using only the latest anti-virus definitions!
It’s true that you could take all the precautions discussed here and you still might encounter trouble but the odds are far more in your favour than if you didn’t.