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Dmccabe's guide to safe surfing!

dmccabe Avatar
9y, 1m agoPosted 9 years, 1 month ago
Dmccabe's guide to staying safe on the Internet.

With so much hype surrounding security on the internet and all the virus attacks, spyware installs and phishing scams around it is a wonder why people still use or want to use the internet.

However it is not as bad as it seems and if you follow these simple guidelines and use some of the tools mentioned here then you should find the web a much safer place to visit. You will also find that keeping yourself secure on the net is mostly free and there is no need to line the pockets of the large corporations that care more about profit than security.

Must Do's:

* Always keep your Windows version up to date!

While Microsoft do have their faults, they are also very good at bringing out regular updates for their software, which fix bugs and security holes. If your not keeping up to date with the latest updates then you are asking for trouble.

Thankfully Windows is quite easy to keep up to date. You can do it manually (at least once a month) by clicking on START then clicking on Windows Update and following the on screen instructions. Alternatively it can be set to automatic by going into your control panel (START > SETTINGS > CONTROL PANEL) and then into the Automatic Updates icon and choosing to automatically download and install updates (recommended).

* Get an Anti-Virus program and keep it up to date!

Viruses are the types of thing that come as an attachment in an email or through a downloaded file or even sometimes just across the internet without you doing anything.

Chances are if you bought your PC from a shop such as Dell or Compaq etc then you got some anti-virus software with it, however did you know 1000's of new viruses are discovered every day and if your Anti-Virus software is out of date by even a week then it is almost useless.

Thankfully there are plenty of anti-virus software’s out there each with Pro's and cons. Grisoft do an excellent free anti-virus called http://free.grisoft.com/ AVG , which is very good at keeping itself up to date, http://www.avast.com/ Avast also have a free anti-virus product which will help keep your free of the nasties roaming the web.

If you prefer a paid for product so that there is someone to shout at should things go wrong, then Techmonkeys highly recommends NOD32.

* Anti-Spyware tools!

Spyware, Adware and Malware are relatively new threats on the internet in comparison to viruses and trojans, however they are rapidly growing both in terms of their numbers and the destructiveness they cause. These are the kind of programs that make your home page change, make popup's display all over your screen or take you to web pages you would rather not be seeing.

It is important to have at least one Anti-Spyware tool that comes with a background guard to help monitor your system settings and warn you should something attempt to make changes you don’t want.

http://www.safer-networking.org/ Spybot and http://www.winpatrol.com/ WinPatrol are 2 of my favourite protections against this type of threat and yes again these are free products (WinPatrol has a paid for pro version with extra features).

Don’t forget to keep these programs up to date too, the free ones generally won’t auto-update.

* Change your browser!

Browser is the term used to describe a program made for viewing web pages. Internet Explorer is the most common browser as it comes pre-loaded on every Windows based computer.

Technically there is nothing wrong with sticking to Internet Explorer as your browser as it is just as safe as any other once you disable fatures within it's security settings, however due to the fact that Internet Explorer has an 80% + share of the web browser market it makes it a popular target for would be hackers, phisher's and malware writers.

With this in mind it is better to use a third party browser to increase your safety while surfing the web. There are many different browsers out there, most of which are free, here are a few you can try and see which you like the best: http://www.opera.com/ Opera - http://www.getfirefox.com FireFox - http://www.avantbrowser.com/ Avant They all have their advantages and disadvantages, so it will come down to which you find the easiest and nicest to use..

**update: IE7 is now much more secure than IE6 which was the current IE browser at the time of writing.

* Block as many bad sites as possible.

Blocking web sites is one of the most secure ways of keeping badness out of your PC as it stops your computer being able to even view the bad sites and stops bad programs you may already have from sending information about you back to the creators and also can stop quite a lot of adverts appearing on your screen.

Thanks to the vigilance and dedication of certain individuals on the web, there are ever growing lists of the sites you don’t want to visit, being kept up to date by people who want the web kept safe.

They also create handy little tools that will automatically block the sites you really should stay away from. Try http://www.javacoolsoftware.com/spywareblaster.html SpywareBlaster as one method of blocking the baddies or for a little more in depth blocking try the http://www.mvps.org/winhelp2002/hosts.htm MVPS hosts file, which adds 1000's of known sites into your blocked list.

Once again make sure you keep these tools up to date and it should make your life bug free.

* Firewall yourself!

Firewalls are your used to keep your PC secret while it is connected to the internet. They will stop your computer broadcasting it's presence on the net to would be hackers. It will also make sure your computer is not accessible from the outside world.

Windows XP and above now come with a fairly decent in built firewall, make sure it is switched on in your Security Centre (START > SETTINGS > CONTROL PANEL > SECURITY CENTRE). The windows firewall only protects against incoming attacks and does not block out going web traffic, also once again as this is Microsoft and they are the market leader you can guarantee that the windows firewall will be the target of most hack attacks. So using a third party firewall as well such as Zone Alarm is a very good idea.

If you have a router that connects you to the internet, there is a good chance it has a firewall built into it as well. Have a look through your routers manual or check out the manufacturers website for details on how to set the firewall up.


Safe Surfing Habits:

While the tools above will do their best to keep you protected there is still nothing safer than using a bit of web sense while browsing.

First rule when it comes to web sense is "DONT CLICK ON THE FLASHY BANNER THINGS!!!!" if it says your a winner and your 100,000,000th visitor or click here for a free IQ test, then you can guarantee you've failed the IQ test as soon as you click the advert. Just don’t do it. If you want to know about a product, search Google for it.

Never click links from people on Instant Messenger programs like MSN, Yahoo or AIM. Even if it is someone you know there is a chance they may have got a virus and don’t know it is sending out the links. If a friend sends you a link then ask them what it is before you click it.

If you get an email from your bank/ebay/online store with a link asking you to log in or verify your details, DONT! These types of organisations NEVER send emails asking for your account details. If your unsure open up your browser and type in your banks website address manually and then log in.

Stay away from "warez" sites or sites that proclaim to have free screensavers or movies. If a website says FREE FREE FREE everywhere, chances are you will pay in the long run. If you must download free software's then use a trusted site such as Softpedia or Download.com they will check the programs and verify they are spyware and virus free.

Don’t install things such as Emoticons, smilies, toolbars or any other nice little add-on that says it will "enhance" your web experience, cos what they mean by enhance is actually slow down and cause errors. There are certain toolbars out there that are good and will enhance it for you such as Google's Toolbar or MSN's Search Bar.

You can dramatically cut down on the number of spam emails you receive by setting yourself up two email addresses. Use one for family and friends and people you trust and use the other for registering at websites such as this one. The less places you give out your personal email address to the less it will be sold on to advertisers and spammers ( don’t worry http://www.techmonkeys.co.uk/index.php?page=4 Techmonkeys never give out your personal info). Also never write your email in a public place such as on a forum post or on a public page of a website. Email harvesting programs regularly scan websites and collect email addresses to Spam and advertise to.

By following these simple steps you should find the internet a safer and securer place to be. They don’t call it the World Wild Web for nothing!

- Darren

To the HUKD Mods: this is a guide I wrote for my own website, none of the links are affiliate links and none are for paid for software (except the NOD32 which states it isnt free) hope this is ok
dmccabe Avatar
9y, 1m agoPosted 9 years, 1 month ago
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All Comments

(23) Jump to unreadPost a comment
Comments/page:
#1
Nice advice!! (thought you meant on water - doh!) but will try a few of the links for sure! Rep to yer elbow for all of that!
[admin]#2
That's a great guide- thanks :)
Gonna give you some rep!! Would be great to keep this bumped or make it a sticky... although a lot of it is common sense, some folk have less knowledge than others and this is a really useful read :)

Good Work Darren!!
#3
juliet_bravo
some folk have less knowledge than others and this is a really useful read :)

Good Work Darren!!


Yeah - me especially!:oops: And..I use internet shopping all the time. Anything that helps protect from useless or scam stuff deserves a post!! Thanks again!
#4
Thanks, it is as you guessed intended as a general all-round good advice rather than a "use this prog, use that prog type of thing".

I work with viruses and spyware a lot and help people detect and remove them, so I created this "safe surfing guide" for my site and like to post it on other sites where I think the user base would benefit.

Glad you like it :)
#5
Very nicely written. :)
#6
This was posted on tech monkeys. Dont know if it was by you.
#8
/me looks around...uh oh you found me out... I copied it !!!


Oh wait I own Techmonkeys, that was me :P

Edit: **** my SQL server has gone belly up AGAIN!!!
#9
haha alright cool.
#10
thats cool I didnt think anyone here, would have heard of my little site :)
#11
Technically there is nothing wrong with sticking to Internet Explorer as your browser as it is just as safe as any other, however due to the fact that Internet Explorer has an 80% + share of the web browser market it makes it a popular target for would be hackers, phisher's and malware writers.

You surely can't be serious? IE6 was a complete mess which was easily expoitable, it has nothing to do with the fact it's a popular browser. I couldn't read any further after reading a nonsense statement like that, I generally like MS products but Internet Explorer has been the bane of my IT existence for many years.

John
#12
Internet Explorer has a huge market share. If you were a virus writer or someone who exploited bugs in software, would you target a smaller browser with less share of the market? or would you target the the one that most people will be using? exactly you would go for IE.

As you say IE6 was/is full of security holes, but so was Opera and Firefox and Avant, but they were not targetted as they didnt have such a big market share.

IE7 however has really improved in terms of security and reliability so this is why I editted the post and put in the:

**update: IE7 is now much more secure than IE6 which was the current IE browser at the time of writing.

bit.

I am not quite understanding why you think that statement is nonsense?

It makes complete sense to me and is also the reason why there are "less" viruses created for MAC's and Linux. They are more secure in nature, but they are still open to malware infections, but hardly anyone uses these OS'es in comparison which is why MS Windows is more targetted by malware creators.
#13
'Spyware, Adware and Malware are relatively new threats on the internet, however they are rapidly growing both in terms of their numbers and the destructiveness they cause.'

:thinking:

Funny because I remember the dark days of 'coolwebsearch' which was 2004. Not exactly new lol.

You know what would be good? If someone made a list of the major free protection software... Oh wait heres one

http://www.ezbaz.org/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=513

Bet the guy who put that together is devilishly handsome.
#14
dmccabe
Internet Explorer has a huge market share. If you were a virus writer or someone who exploited bugs in software, would you target a smaller browser with less share of the market? or would you target the the one that most people will be using? exactly you would go for IE.

As you say IE6 was/is full of security holes, but so was Opera and Firefox and Avant, but they were not targetted as they didnt have such a big market share.



No! It has *nothing* to do with market share, IE6 was a buggy mess that was easy to exploit and too tightly tied into the OS shell. I'm in complete disbelief at what you're writing here, to put it mildly you are massively misleading people - Opera and Firefox have nothing like the security holes IE6 has, there is no comparison there at all. You can target Firefox/Opera all you want, you will never see the level of infection possible with IE6 which aside from virus exploits, it was incredibly easy to hijack with spyware which you just can't do with Opera/Firefox. And even putting that all aside, Opera and Firefox both sit outside of Windows Explorer (the shell, not the browser) so even in the unlikely circumstances they do go wrong they won't bring the entire OS down with them - the same cannot be said for IE6 as once it drags Explorer down with it, recovery can be very difficult.

In fact, I could summarise the entire issue in one sentence - don't use Internet Explorer 6. Reading through your post you are making out (and actually seem to believe) that other browsers are no better, which is simply wrong - switching away from Internet Explorer can resolve many of the issues people have.

Aggy - you're quite right, I suspect it's an old guide which hasn't been properly updated although if anything it must have been more inaccurate at the time of writing.

John
#15
Useful innit. Get a Mac tho and you won't have to worry about any of this **** innit
#16
Tell you what guys I wont bother next time...sheesh

The guide is old yes it was a long time ago that I wrote it.

The guide was meant to be a balanced guide that didnt promote one product or another.

As far as the Internet explorer outburst that seemed to have happened, I would like to point out I use Firefox not IE and have done since the early beta's of it! So am no IE fan in anyway shape or form, however I did not want to come across as a microsoft hater.

ALso most of the problems with IE6 can be made safe by switching off activeX, javascript and other precarious settings.

However, as said I just wont bother next time :(
#17
Darren

Take the bad comments along with the good. Ignore the ones you dont like as some folk on here are keen to criticise the efforts that some folk make. They are entitled to their opinion but, rather than get drawn into arguments only respond to the good comments. :-D
Keep posting
#18
You don't need to worry about any of this with a Windows system either, dump Internet Explorer, pop AVG and auto-updates on and don't click every piece of **** that you see online and you will have no issues. I find in most cases the problems people have are usually down to IE6 and no anti-virus which is even worse if they have kids on the system.

I don't have any problems with malware on any of my PCs and aside from initially setting them up they don't need constant maintenance/nursing to keep them going.

John
#19
pluves1
Darren

Take the bad comments along with the good. Ignore the ones you dont like as some folk on here are keen to criticise the efforts that some folk make. They are entitled to their opinion but, rather than get drawn into arguments only respond to the good comments. :-D
Keep posting


I'm sorry but any security guide which claims IE6 is just as secure as any other browser immediately throws out any credibility - it's the cause of security issues for many, many people and I think it makes this guide incredibly misleading to tate that it's just as secure. That's flat out wrong, plain and simple and I'm in total disbelief anyone who is familiar with the software could make such a claim.

John
#20
Ok my last comment on this as I hate threads that get de-railed with petty squabling.

I have editted my original post to hopefully appease those who are outraged by such nonsense.

John I realise that what you are saying you are saying out of experience and a good grounded knowledge in IT, I have seen your posts on this forum and on others and can not argue with your wealth of knowledge.

However please understand that I am not some punk on the internet spouting off about things he has read.

I have worked in IT for last 12 years, before that I did computer studies and electrical engineering.

I have actively been tracking, analysing and removing spyware, adware, viruses, trojans and spam for the last 5 years.

In which time I wrote the (at the time) internet's only guide to removing the Araura (nail.exe) malware which was rapidly causing problems around the globe.

I am and have been since it's inception a member of the Alliance of Security Analysis Professionals ASAP.

My website Techmonkeys.co.uk is listed on the ASAP site, VitalSecurity.org, TeMerc.com, http://www.merijn.org/forums.php (creator of HiJAckthis), Trend's website and many others where it has been recognised as a site that can successfully analyse and advise on HiJackThis logs.

Please dont get me wrong, I am not saying any of this as if to say "Look at me I am this, I am that", I am merely just trying to state the fact that yes while the guide I wrote almost 4 years ago is a little out of date, please do not think I dont know the in's and out's of IE security and the problems it creates.

Also please note that the line you referred to was in section of the guide headed "Change your browser" kind of makes you and me on the same side surely?
#21
Darren, it really is a good guide and I'm sure many people will find it useful. The IE vs Firefox et al argument is (as you well know) and old one which will never really go away. Like the Mac vs PC or Windows vs Linux ones people tend to take a side and stick with it rather than approach it as a rational discussion.

I'll hold my hand up as an occassional visitor to your site and a long term member of both the SWI and Spyware warrior forums. Never joined the ASAP as I'm strictly an amateur.

My comment was intended as a general one. The article is good, but needs updating to take into account the current climate (which I notice you've done).

Its the old adage, if it saves one person getting into trouble it was worth it. And it did remind me I forgot to put Hijack This on my list of free protection tools....
banned#22
Rockhound
Nice advice!! (thought you meant on water - doh!) but will try a few of the links for sure! Rep to yer elbow for all of that!



same, tried that on an indoor wavepool/board last week so after reading the thread title i thought it mite hav been advice...i kept fallin lol :p
banned#23
[SIZE="1"][COLOR="White"]Great post[/COLOR][/SIZE]

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