These things

a followable story

Web Awareness: How To Protect Yourself Against The Web

is safe.  Frequently, attackers hide bugs in files that look like valid files.  What to do?  When it doubt, delete it out!

I am always asked by friends and family who have “unknowingly” obtained a nasty bug and my first question is always, “What did you last install?”  Ha!  Don”t shrug your shoulders.  If you can”t remember what you are installing on your computer, then you shouldn”t be installing anything on your computer.  Screensaver packages, background wallpaper generators and unmonitored free software (in general) are breeding grounds for new malicious software creators.  This leads me to my next point!

  • Researching Software – Be smart, computers are awesome tools and can do great things.  Read about your software first and look for peer reviews.  If you find no information, then this is usually a bad sign.  No information is bad information.  Good, healthy software applications have robust descriptions and reviews mainly because their writers have paraded their new vision or new tool to many people.  The reviews can be numerous and whether positive or negative immediately may show signs of malicious actions and consumer complaints.

    How do I research software?  Google it.  Again, no search results means pass by this software.  Special cases include you knowing the person, or team who developed the site.

  • Spam – Your email inbox is an open invitation for anyone to contact you about sex medication, narcotics, russian brides, western union scams and just about everything you don”t want.  It”s amazing the amount of Spam that is blocked before it hits your inbox.  Millions upon millions an hour get cut off before it gets to you.  So, what do you do?  You don”t open anything unless you are expecting it or you know the sender.  Everything else is white noise and should be “Marked” as Spam for future filtering purposes.

    You can also help in building trust with your friends and family by not forwarding Spam.  For example,  other people”s ideas on “How to prevent a heart attack by coughing” or “Skyway to Heaven“(untrue explanation of Disney ride) are considered Spam.  Do you ever wonder why some people never reply to these?  Because they don”t read them.  Help all your friends, including me, by sending only pertinent messages that you expect replies to.  If you are the one forwarding me emails with “FW:FW>>>FW:FW:” in the subject line I will not open.  Matter of fact, the priority in which I open and respond in has now sent you to the bottom.  I understand you are trying to help. I understand you want to help others but by forwarding false information you are lowering your value as an email contact and this could cause issues in the future.

  • Simulated Actions – Twice today, I have already been in contacted by two people who have been duped into downloading Software to help “clean” the bugs supposedly reported.  I have seen this so let me explain.  Out of no where, a window pops up and the status, address and navigation toolbars are hidden and it looks like a valid Windows application.  Some cogs spin and a progress bar about half way down the window shows progress.  Alongside the progress bar a counter is increasing and the number is alarming.  Add to the fact that beside this rising number is the term “Security Risks.” Immediately, everyone is alarmed.  Even me.  BUT, I quickly see this is a web page designed to simulate something real so I think I am in imminent danger.  How tricky is that?  There are some smart people out there trying to spread their bugs.

    Be careful to take your time to make decisions that could penetrate your computer.  This simulated action is going around fast because it states you must make a decision or your computer will be no good anymore.  That is simply not true.

  • Backups, Backups, Backups – Do this today.  You will eventually download and install a virus.  The ideas of trickery and misleading designs are getting stronger and smarter.  You will use your back up several times PER computer.  Yes, you will own more than one computer and you data collection will grow as you move to each new system.  It is imperative your data is transferable and backed up regularly.  It”s just smart.  Don”t let those 11 years of digital photo albums get erased by a bug that you, yourself, downloaded.
  • Some of these are basic ideas that can help even a novice computer user.  You need to be the responsible one in the relationship.  The computer will not install a virus or download a malware program by itself.  Understanding that you are the gatekeeper can be a powerful tool in helping you navigate web.

    Good luck out there!

    About the Author

    I am a husband to a beautiful wife named Whitney and Dad to a wonderful baby boy. Yay! :) Damien Augustus Shaffer has come into this world on March 15th 2010. In my professional life, I have accumulated over 4 years utilizing a wide range of technologies to develop software solutions for my current employer. Most of this time was spent learning methodical approaches within different environments to broaden my programming knowledge and project planning abilities. These environments include both open source and Windows based development, mainly Web. I also dabble in Social Media and it applications in today's culture and marketplace. I consider it a hobby but some may say its an obsession. ;) I enjoy it immensely.