Internet security – Avoiding problems

There are a number of behaviours which will help you avoid becoming a victim of cyber crime :

  1. Don’t clink on links to websites, breaking news or adverts on social media, or email attachments without always thinking “is this genuine?”
  2. Do not access sensitive sites from public networks.
  3. If something looks suspicious, it probably is.
  4. Back-up all your files regularly.

1. LINKS CAN BE : to a website or within a website; links in an email; links to adverts or news items in facebook and other social media. ALWAYS CHECK THE LINK BEFORE CLICKING ON IT.

Websites : hover over the link with the cursor and see what the address (or link) to the web-site is – and ask the question “does it make sense?” For example : does it have the right sort of name, type and country extension at the end – eg:  we are www.futuregroup.org.uk. You know our name is the Future Group, we are an organisation not an individual, and we are based here so the UK is right. You might be a little more suspicious of www.fgroup.com.cn

E-mails : do not open attachments unless they are from a trusted source AND when you hover over them they look sensible attachments of the sort you might expect AND the context in which you have received them is right, i.e. you were expecting them, for example you knew an invoice was coming to you.

Social media such as Facebook : the biggest risk here is either clicking in a link on a shared page or clicking in a page ad or “breaking news” item. Again check if it has a sensible link address. If it an interesting news item like the “Michael Caine is dead” scam, then go to a reputable news organisation such as BBC News and check if they are reporting the story rather than clicking on the link. If it is a hot news item, they will be reporting it too and they will have verified it before posting it.

2. PUBLIC NETWORKS such as internet cafes, free wifi in shops, restaurants, leisure facilities, libraries etc. ) are more risky environments. Think twice about accessing sensitive sites such as banks, or other financial sites when using these networks and ensure you answer “Public” when joining the site as it improves the security marginally.

3. LOOKS SUSPICIOUS : If you open up something and it looks wrong or suspicious, then do not respond to anything in it. Do not click further, and in particular : do not re-enter your computer email account or other access passwords if requested; do not ring any numbers on the screen; do not give them access to your computer to “mend it”; do not disclose any of the sensitive data and passwords that you might need to access your bank.

4. BACK-UPS : In the event you get a serious security breach, then you may lose data for example pictures and project work that you really, really, really did not want to lose. Although there is some software that can help, that may not work. You can use a firm to retrieve your data, but this is very expensive and again may not be totally successful. Your best option may be to wipe your machine and rebuild it. To this end :

  • back-up all the files that you really want to keep onto a device which is not connected normally to the internet such as CD/DVD or flashdrive or external hard drive. Date each back-up and keep them for at least a year. Do not overwrite the last back-up. (Some malware can sit in the files and only activate after a set period of time. So over-writing last week’s back-up may not protect you from the malware that you downloaded a month ago and which is set to trigger later.)
  • keep the backup in a secure location
  • keep a copy of all the software that was installed onto your computer. Increasingly, this is downloaded from the manufacturer website – in which case make sure you keep a note of the account & password needed for access or any activation code which came with the software. If you loaded the software from a disk, then keep those disks somewhere safe and ensure that you have any activation code which may have come as part of the packaging.

Look at the very sensible advice on Cyber Aware which also gives more detailed and relevant advice on how to protect businesses as does Get Safe On Line