Staying Safe Online

Safe Browsing on the Internet

The Internet is a wonderful thing. It’s a place where people can connect from all over the world to bond, share, and, quite often, debate but it’s also a place where malicious users can target the unsuspecting and innocent. Apple devices utilize very safe operating systems which means viruses, while possible, are rare and because of this security safe browsing is a skill that is often overlooked. In this post we will be discussing how to browse the internet safely.

Make Sure the Website is Secure!

Websites that handle private or sensitive information are often times protected by encryption. Internet banking websites or online marketplaces (such as Amazon) encrypt the data that you send to them to ensure that only you and they can see it. This is important as data that is not encrypted can easily be intercepted and read by anybody in plain text. When you are on a website your browser of choice should be able to tell you whether or not the website is encrypted, often times with a padlock symbol.

Examples of checking site security:

If your browser does not show the website as secure you should not be inputting any sensitive data into that website and should avoid using it if possible.

Only Download Applications From Trusted Developers

Applications are programs that a user can download and install to enhance their experience with their computer. Applications can range from Internet Browsers (such as Google Chrome) to document editors (such as Microsoft Word). Apple computers use a .dmg file (Disk Image) to install an application while Microsoft computers use .exe files (Executables).

When downloading and installing an Application from the internet you should be asking yourself a few questions. Does this application come from a trusted developer? Do I know what this application is for? Do I trust the website that I’m downloading this from? If you answer no to any of these questions then it is time to consider that the application you are looking at may be superfluous or malicious.

A malicious program will sometimes masquerade itself as helpful or necessary in order to try and convince you to install it. Other times malicious programs will latch onto other application installers so you’ll be installing two programs without knowing you’re doing so. Most applications will have a few steps to follow before you can install them and it is highly recommended that you read through them carefully to make sure nothing malicious will be installed on your computer.

Before you install anything downloaded from the Internet make sure that it is safe and something you trust.

Beware of Advertisements

Most websites make money by using advertisements. While annoying, these advertisements are usually not dangerous but some of them will execute something called scripts which can force downloads of malicious applications or lock your internet browser with an alarming message. If you see something pop saying you’re computer has a virus it’s safe to assume that one of these scripts has just been executed.

These scripts, while malicious, do not actually do anything to compromise your computer. They require further action by the user to cause breaches. By installing an application downloaded by one of these scripts you may find your computer injected with Adware (sometimes called scareware or malware). This can make your computer run slow, force targeted ads to pop up, or hijack your Internet browser. If you see a message urging you to call a 1-800 number you may be lead through a series of pointless steps and find yourself with a large bill.

Adblock extensions for Internet browsers can sometimes prevent these scripts from being run but can also render other websites unusable unless disabled temporarily.

If you are worried about the security of your computer you can come talk to a representative at your local Simply Computing where we can perform a Malware Removal if needed for $49.