I’ve been thinking about writing a quick post about internet security recently, and this article by Stephen Fry finally made me write it. We are living in dangerous times, so to speak – keeping your computer free of viruses or any such malware is becoming more difficult. We also have an army of scammers and ‘phishers’ who want to steal our credit card details by sending fraudulent emails (Mac and Linux users — take note: you don’t have to be running Windows to get caught out by phishing!).
So, I thought I would offer up a few tips on staying safe on the internet. Feel free to contribute in the comments to anything I have missed – I might make this into a proper article. Some of these tips are Windows-only — for that I apologise, but the majority of people who need these tips will be Windows users.
- Do not, and by this I mean DO NOT open attachments from anyone you do not know. It’s just not worth the risk.
- If you’re running Windows, disable the option to ‘Hide extensions for known file types’ – you can do this by going to a folder, clicking on ‘Tools’ -> ‘Folder Options’, then clicking on the ‘View’ tab, and in the list of checkboxes unchecking the box next to ‘Hide extensions for known file types’. This will prevent you from accidentally opening up virus.jpg.exe, thinking it’s a photo! (admittedly, it probably wouldn’t have ‘virus’ in the name, but still…)
- If in any doubt, err on the side of caution.
- If you receive an email with an offer that is “too good to be true” — it probably is. DO NOT send your bank details to anyone, even if they promise money.
- Always access your bank’s website by typing it in / using a favourite in your browser. Never click on links in emails, even if they appear to be from your bank. There are many fraudulent websites which look exactly like your bank’s website, don’t be fooled.
- Always run a firewall. Windows XP has a firewall – if you don’t know whether you have turned it on, see this page.
That’s all for now, but I may well update this as time goes on!