The Internet as we know it today is an enormously useful, vast resource that makes most of our lives easier and more enjoyable on a daily basis. However, there are risks associated with using the Internet. These risks can include contracting a virus, getting infected with a Trojan horse, and accidentally installing malware or spyware.
Even with antivirus software installed and updated regularly, vulnerabilities can still exist and be exploited. Luckily, there are other steps users can take to protect themselves, including using anti-spyware software and being vigilant when surfing the web.
Surf Smarter Online
When searching for a site or information online, look for indicators that the site is legitimate and secure. If something just doesn’t feel right, do not download anything or click around on the homepage to go deeper into the site. Simply exit the site immediately.
Especially when it comes to sites that you allow to “remember” information for you or ones you conduct any business transactions with, look for “https://” rather than “http://” at the beginning of the website address in the address bar at the top of the browser window. This signifies a secure site that encrypts personal details, which should help protect sensitive data from hackers.
The best defense is to avoid websites that don’t appear trustworthy in the first place. Emails can also be deceptive. Be sure you have some idea who the email is actually from before you open it – if it looks spammy, delete it without opening it if possible. If you must open an email from an unfamiliar source to be sure you’re not missing an important message, flag it as spam and delete immediately if you detect anything suspicious or out of the ordinary.
Try to access sensitive websites (banking, credit cards, etc.) directly by typing the known website address into your address bar, rather than clicking through from emails. Some hackers can make emails seem as though they are coming from legitimate sources. Be wary of anything that prompts you for passwords or personal details.
Don’t Neglect Spyware Protection
Spyware literally allows hackers to spy on you, virtually looking over your shoulder as you use your computer. Spyware programs can record every keystroke you make, every website you visit, and even see all the personal information and photos that display on your screen when you think you are alone.
Although much of this spyware or malware can get past your antivirus program, anti-spyware software can find and remove pernicious spyware programs.
Antivirus software can still be very effective in helping to keep your computer safe. If a bad program does end up on your computer, it can usually detect and remove it. It can also act as a shield for websites infected with known viruses. The danger comes with new variations of viruses that are not yet screened for, or spyware that can end up on your computer and remain undetected by antivirus software. To best cover your bases, consider using both anti-virus and anti-spyware software.