Before we get started, let's clear one
thing out: there's no such thing as absolute
security. Following the hints in this
article you may reach a high level of
security, but nothing is absolutely bullet-proof.
One should always be alert for new threats
and take the appropriate precautions.
Rule number one (also known as the golden
rule): NEVER EVER open an email attachment
if you do not recognize the message sender
or if the message body is "fishy"
("Hi, wanna see Claudia Schiffer
naked? Check the photos in the attachment"
or "Hi, here is a cool app I found
on the internet, check it out").
If you know the sender, contact him/her
and verify that he/she has indeed sent
this file to you. If not, delete the whole
message (AND the attachment, if your mailer
stores it in a separate folder) and don't
look back. Curiosity killed the cat.
Rule number two: Keep your antivirus
software up-to-date. Some vendors say
that if you update it every two weeks
or so you would be safe. In our opinion,
a weekly update is highly recommended.
The more frequent, the better. Once I
received a fishy email message by an unknown
sender two days after I had updated my
AV software. There was no alert by my
AV but I didn't want to take any chances,
so I checked for new virus definitions
before I open the attachment. Guess what?
The attachment contained a brand new virus
that had just been discovered. Lucky me!
Rule number three: Use a firewall. Firewalls
are programs or physical devices that
protect your system from intruders. What?
No intruders to your system? Just install
a firewall, go online for an hour or so
and then check its reports. You will be
surprised by the results!
There are some very good software firewalls
available on the internet for free downloading,
just perform a search and pick one.
Are you one of those people who like
surfing in your spare time? Get a pop-up
killer too. These programs close the annoying
windows that pop-up in some sites and
may contain malicious codes. Lots of pop-up
killers on the net, also for free.
Spyware. That's a program that tries
to connect to its creator and send him
some of your sensitive data. Usually,
it's only your name, email address and
this kind of information that may be used
by advertisers and spamsters, but it may
as well be your credit card information.
Whoops! You didn't like that one, did
you?. Ok then, perform a search on the
net for spyware detectors. These are programs
that scan your system for spyware and
safely remove them. For free too.
Last but not least: leave the cookies
for Santa, you don't need most of them.
Until last year, you had the choice of
either accept cookies or reject them.
People who selected to be asked every
time a site was trying to place a cookie
in their system, de-activated this option
after a couple of hours online. Today,
Internet Explorer 6 offers the option
of selectively accept or reject cookies.
Third-party cookies are automatically
rejected. The user can also set the browser
to selectively accept or reject cookies
from certain sites. IE6 can be downloaded
from Microsoft's website for free, but
this can take ages, as it's several megabytes.
Just visit your local store and buy one
of those computer magazines that come
with a CD. Most likely you will find IE6
Security tips by CNET
Security tips by Microsoft
Internet Security tips!
© Copyright 2003 Translatum Journal
and the Author