If there is one thing I have learned in all my years of supporting computers and being a part of the IT support community, it is that there are still a bunch of people who have no clue about how to stay safe on the internet. So, to try and help out my less technically minded friends out there, I have put together a list of tips that will help you avoid any nasty computer infections.
Do not click on links from people you do not know or trust. Even if the link looks legitimate, there are ways of spoofing links and leading you to a site that could infect your computer with malware when you click the link and visit the site. Be incredibly wary about links found on public forums, emails, and in the comments sections of websites as these are prime targets for malicious links to be found.
Do not open suspicious looking emails or any email attachments. Emails asking you to follow a link or sign into an account of yours should be looked at closely before you type any of your personal information in. Today, most email attachments can be scanned before being opened which will cut down the risk of infecting your computer. Just be sure to scan when given the option to.
Do not click on or put in any personal information in pop-ups. A common tactic for delivering malware to unsuspecting victims is through pop-up ads. These ads can take many forms, so be incredibly wary should one pop-up. In most cases, it is generally advisable to close out of pop-up ads. Even if these pop-ups are asking for a survey or claiming you have won a prize of some sort, do not put in any personal information (including your email!) and do not download anything from the pop-up.
Download your programs directly from the source. There are a ton of websites that allow you to download various programs all from one place. However, there are many times when a malicious program can slip in claiming to be a program that it is not. That is why I always recommend to download a program directly from its website if you can. Downloading your programs from the source website also insures that you will have the most up to date version of that program as well.
Make sure your connection is secured when you are inputting sensitive personal information. If you are buying something online or filling out personal information that is sensitive (like your social security number) make sure that your connection is secured by HTTPS. When the web page is secured by HTTPS, it means that your connection to the website has been encrypted which will make any information you submit secure. You can check to see if the web page you are on is secure by looking on the address bar of your internet browser. There should be a green padlock with https in front of the website address. This lets you know that your connection has been secured.
Be wary of what websites you visit. In a world of aggregate sites like Reddit, it is incredibly easy for any unsuspecting user to end up visiting a malicious website. These websites can be hard to recognize as malicious, but there are tools out there such as web of trust that can help you decide if the website is safe to visit. Modern internet browsers will also sometimes warn you if a website is suspected of being malicious.
Do not share any of your passwords with anyone over the internet. Even if they are family or friends, sharing passwords is incredibly discouraged. Information you share over the internet is largely unsecured from being intercepted by someone else. Additionally, there is the risk of your friends or family using your credentials on a compromised computer and accidentally leaking out your sensitive information.
These tips will help you to stay safe when your on the internet. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us and we will reply to your feedback as soon as we can. Please feel free to comment below and let me know what you think of this list and if you have any good tips to add.