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Basic Internet Security what you need to know

Basic Internet security: What you need to know

It seems that everyone who has a computer is connected to the Internet. It provides such a wide and interesting world to explore full of information, games, friends, and more. The problem is that not everyone on the Internet is friendly. Sadly there are a few things you need to know about basic Internet security to help keep you safer.

Web site address redirects

If you want to go to a web page you generally type in the address such as http://www.example.com. When you do this you expect to see the web site for example.com, however many websites redirect the address you type in to another address which can get confusing. The common legitimate reason for this is if someone has multiple domain names and they all refer to the same web site, such as example.com, .net, .org, and .info all pointing to example.com. This is understandable and makes things much easier to manage on the web site end of things. However, more often it seems that website redirects are an attempt to have you enter an innocent looking web site address that takes you to a malicious website that may install adware or spyware on your computer or even try to hack your computer! This is also becoming more common in email where the web address displayed is not the real web address you will go to if you click on it. In email, place your mouse pointer over the link and look at the bottom of your screen – if the web addresses do not match, do not go there as they are misleading you and potentially will try to hack your computer! Be aware of web address redirects, and be suspicious of them.

Cookies

This wonderful word from our Sesame Street childhood is also a wonderful word on the Internet. Cookies are small packages of information that your computer and a website exchange. Cookies generally store information about your preferences for a website such as colors and language of choice. They may store more complex information such as your favourite categories of an online store, or your billing address. Its these more complex cookies that can cause problems. Some websites use cookies to get information from your computer without you knowing about it. The nicest version of this is aggressive targeted advertising. Some of the worst versions of this are bad people stealing your credit card or banking information behind your back. If you are worried about this happening, you can disable cookies on your browser but then you will not have the benefit of them on all the legitimate websites. If that is too much trouble, a slightly less secure option is to erase your cookies on a regular basis such as weekly or even daily. This will help prevent hackers from getting information – if you logged into your bank yesterday and deleted the cookie, a hacker today can’t get at that information.

Firewalls

Chances are you have heard someone talk about firewalls before. In construction terms, a firewall is a wall that is fireproof and will stop a fire if it gets into a building to safe the building behind the firewall even if the building on the other side is destroyed. The same idea is true for computer firewalls – they check incoming traffic to your computer from the Internet for people trying to access your computer who should not be there. IF you even just enable the default Windows firewall on your computer it will be much better than having nothing there at all. Much better still is a physical device on your network that can act as a firewall for your all the computer in your home. This is generally a router / firewall device that directs traffic to and from your computers. These devices take more time to configure and cost a bit of money up front, but one will protect many computers and it will stop problems before they get to your computers. If that solution sounds best to you, contact a computer professional for more information.

If you are aware of these three things, your Internet days will be much safer and much happier.

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