Spyware Blockers – Stay Safe Online

Most computer users do not fully appreciate the hidden threats that they face every minute they are online. The threats are real, though, and because they are hidden most people do not comprehend the dangers they are facing. The presence of spyware is more prevalent than you may realize. As the name indicates the operations of the spyware–like all espionage activities–is done in the shadows without your knowledge or consent. Faced with this reality it pays to use spyware blockers to ward off these online threats.

Only a well informed person understand the perils of this menace. Have you ever wondered how it is that you get email from unknown sources, often multiple times per day? Some contains advertisements for lotteries offering millions of dollars. Others offer to share in the profits of unclaimed bank accounts. Still more contain solicitations for various health enhancement potions and prescription medications. How did they get your details in the first place? It is unlikely you ever gave your email address to anybody that would you send you such ridiculous offers. There is no greater proof needed to demonstrate the existence of spyware on your computer, and to encourage you to seriously consider the safety measures that you should take in the form of adequate spyware blockers.

Spyware can get onto your computer from rogue web sites or legitimate websites that have been compromised. They often masquerade as an attractive image file or useful piece of software, or pose as an ordinary advertisement. In all cases, they can take over your web browser and use the opportunity to penetrate your system without your being any the wiser. In addition to ferreting out your personal information, they can go lure you into buying software which has no value at all for your computer. There have even been cases in which some people have lost considerable sums of money by falling prey to emails designed to retrieve vital information about their bank accounts.

There is also big money to be made by spyware operators. Sometimes they use legitimate websites to advertise bogus products, ironically including spyware blockers. Visitors to these sites are redirected to sites selling anti-spyware software and which encourages them to pay for bogus spyware blockers that have no real effect. The threat of the spyware operators should not be underestimated.

It’s unwise to ignore these genuine threats to your privacy and your computer. Fortunately, though, just as unscrupulous individuals are determined to hoodwink the gullible, the good are also on alert to safeguard the innocent. When you accept the reality of the risk, you are then in a position to pursue a remedy. Spyware blockers are an effective response to an unfortunately widespread problem. They act as protectors of your computer and keep a tireless vigil to protect you from online threats. They adapt to new conditions through their automatic update mechanisms. This approach enables spyware blockers to modify their defensive strategies on an ongoing basis, and enables them to continue to protect you in new situations.

Staying Safe Online – Top Tips to Making Sure You Avoid the Pitfalls of Online Dangers

Anti Virus Protection Software – A good virus protection software will always put you one step ahead of the game, and we recommend McAfee. There are other alternatives, including Norton, AVG and Avast, all of which will give you some level of protection against viruses, hackers and phishing scams, with Mcafee Total Internet Security offering a wealth of protection, including one of the best Firewalls we have seen.

Check The Padlock! – If you are ordering online, always check for the padlock on your browser to make sure the site is secure, exactly the same when logging into your online banking or similar. On most of the major browsers you will find the padlock on the bottom of the browser, and this indicates if the site has a valid security certificate and therefore if it is safe to login.

Windows Updates – Many people turn off the Windows updates because they are worried about the updates going wrong or the time they take to download or install. This might have used to have been the case, but these days the updates are much more efficient and are vital to make sure your PC is protected against any loop wholes or security issues that might let the bad boys in. Microsoft normally release at least one big update a month, or if they find a security issue it can be the next day, so always make sure windows updates are turned on and that you apply any updates straight away.

Browser Patches – The leading browsers, such as Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox release period updates that should be installed automatically. You can always check you are running the latest version by visiting the home page of your browsers developer and run an update test to make sure. Also, make sure any add-ons, especially Firefox are up to date, things like the Google Toolbar and various other useful tools.

Unusual Passwords – As obvious as it sounds, most of us use the same old password time and time again, and sometimes ones that even the most basic of intruders could probably guess. Mix your passwords up with unusual characters and numbers, and if you can not remember them, trying using one of the secure password keepers that you can find online.

Downloads – If you do not download from possibly dodgy sites and you only download things from official sources, you are already keeping your security at a high level. A lot of the viruses come from people downloading things that are questionable, like illegal music or screen savers. If you are going to download files, make sure you run them through a virus checker before you open them

And finally, the best thing you can do is use common sense. If you do not know what the file is, don’t open it, if you have doubts; make sure you find the answer before continuing. There loads of forums with people waiting to help you, so if you have even the slightest feeling that things might not be right, get it checked out before you continue.

Stay Safe Online – Prevent Identity and Financial Theft

You have Facebook, Twitter, Email and Instant Messaging and you are constantly warned of impending threats to your accounts. Posts warn of other accounts being hacked, emails warn of phishing attempts and random instant messages pop up claiming that your friend’s account was broken into and they had to create a new account. What’s a person to do?

So let’s talk about some of these online threats and ways to prevent becoming a victim. One of the most common forms of identity theft in existence today is Phishing. This is accomplished usually by redirecting you to a website that looks legitimate but is actually a photocopy of the real site. You are prompted to input your credentials for one reason or another and upon doing so you unwittingly send your credentials to evil doers who will not have access to your real account. Some of the frequently mimicked sites include eBay, PayPal, Banks, Popular Email Services, and Facebook.

For example, you may receive an email from PayPal claiming that your account has been compromised and to login immediately to correct these changes. I recently received an email stating that there was a problem with a $218 payment that I sent (I did not send such a payment) and they provided me with a link to click on to log in and update settings to fix this. Many people would panic and immediately click the link to log in to prevent this $218 payment from processing.

Another recent example was someone sending a chat message on Facebook asking “Is this you” with a link. Upon clicking on the link it prompts for your Facebook username and password. Of course I ran away from this as fast as my internet connection allowed.

Maybe we should just give up on the internet all together, right? Wrong! Just be alert and be careful. Things to keep in mind:

  • Legitimate online vendors will not ask for your password via email
  • Always type the sites address in manually instead of clicking on a link in an email or instant message
  • If in doubt, call the owner of the website before proceeding.
  • Seemingly random messages should be ignored.
  • Look for misspellings in emails, very often you will notice grammar or spelling errors
  • Look at the reply to address; is it from the same domain as the site in question?
  • Never download programs that you did not ask to download, and research any program before downloading.

It is possible to have your identity stolen without ever going on the internet. It’s actually rather simple using very common forms of social engineering or inexpensive devices used to steal credit card information. Identity theft is a multi-billion dollar industry and as technology gets easier, it becomes easier to steal electronically.

One such device is a simply a piece of plastic placed over card readers at ATMs or Gas pumps that will read the information from your card. The person placing this on the ATM or gas pump then returns and collects the plastic device that now has your credit card information on it. Memorize your pin and change it often, and only use ATMs other card readers in brightly lit and trusted areas with cameras. If you are not comfortable with the location of a card reader, use cash.

Dumpster diving is still very common. Getting old receipts, bills, statements and more out of the trash sometimes contains enough information for someone to be able to use to steal your identity. All of your trash should be cross shredded (or if your able to, burned) to prevent this.

Other things you can do to prevent identity theft

  • Check your mail every day
  • Report and delivery problems to the post office
  • Report stolen credit cards immediately
  • Check your credit report at least once a year, use a credit monitoring service
  • Never give your social security number or credit card information to unsolicited callers

There are new methods of identity theft appearing all the time. One method quickly on the rise is called Smishing, which is using text message as a form of getting information out of the unknowing person. Just as in email, never respond with personal information including usernames/passwords, social security or credit card information.

While there is no way to completely prevent identity theft, following the steps above and always being alert will help considerably. If in doubt, you can always call the vendor to double-check. Never give out information electronically unless you manually enter the correct website into the address bar of your website. Don’t download programs without first checking with an IT professional or at least researching. There are great sites on the internet that allow you to check if a company is a scam. www.ripoffreport.com is one such site. You can search for reported scams involving the site or company in question.

In short, while spyware is one of the most known sources of identity theft, but it is not the only. Simply installing an anti-spyware program is not enough these days. You have to be aware and alert. You should visit well know security sites to learn about current and new threats. The best consumer is a knowledgeable consumer. Don’t become a victim of identity theft.