Discount Pharmaceuticals – Get ’em While They’re Hot!
Hello. I am the former Nigerian prince, Haskdjwoijg Nyorksdfi. I have selected you to be my heir, and have $500 million to be wired to your bank account immediately. Please contact me immediately so that we may set up the transfer of funds. And if you act now, I will provide you with a large stock of viagra and cialis I recently came into possession of. When our business is concluded, I will send you an e-card to thank you for your timely response. I look forward to doing business with you.
I’m an “IT professional.” I often tweet about this. You knew it was coming. Just a few small things to take note of to better protect yourself on the internet. You’re welcome.
You wouldn’t believe how often I get this all-too-familiar panicked phone call: “OMG! I’m getting all these pop-ups on my screen, there’s an anti-virus program that says I’m infected with 4,672 viruses, and my computer keeps trying to eat my hand! HELP!”
Congratulations. You’ve got the digital clap.
So what do you do now?
You’ve already called me. Good job. But I’m going to give you a few guidelines that will help protect you from having to make that embarrassing phone call in the first place, provided you follow them. So please pay attention.
Antivirus Software Recommendation
Invest in proper anti-virus software. Here’s a good one: GFI Vipre. Ditch the Norton Antivirus. Not only is it a less effective scanner, but it’s notorious for hogging resources and bloating/slowing down computers. It’s also far more expensive, comparatively. Vipre is effective, fast, light, and costs $30/year. Buy it now. And no, I did not get paid to plug this product. I’ve only been using it everywhere for over two years now, and can personally attest to it being a good product.
Online Protection is 25% Antivirus Software, 75% Common Sense
No one antivirus system can effectively block 100% of all malicious software. Good a/v is an important baseline, but real protection comes from using common sense and safe browsing habits. Don’t visit questionable web sites (lay off the porn), and be extremely careful when using your email (more on this in a moment).
Keep an Eye on Your Address Bar
If you think you’re on Facebook.com, but the site in your address bar says something like, “http://ihatepandas.com” or “http://184.108.40.206 …” you aren’t actually on Facebook. This is called a “phishing attack,” and it means you’ve just been tricked into visiting a malicious site designed to masquerade as a legitimate online service, and steal personal data or install bad software on your computer. Fish are tasty and healthy. Phish are evil and taste like betrayal.
Email is Dangerous
It’s a sad fact, but we can’t get around using it. So be careful. DO NOT click a link in an email without confirming the address it’s actually pointing to. DO NOT open an attachment from someone you don’t know, or even if you weren’t expecting it. DO NOT even think about opening an attachment that ends with “.zip” or “.exe” unless… No, just don’t. And e-cards? Forget it. When was the last time someone actually sent you one of those, anyway? E-cards are so 2001 – so don’t bother with them, just delete. Trust me.
Just a Few More on Email
Sorry. Prince Haskdjwoijg is never going to send you money. Those viagra pills are fake. E-cards are the devil. FedEx will never send you tracking data in an attachment. An online service will never “update their systems” requiring you to give them your password via email. And when in doubt, pick up the phone and call tech support (or a friend in IT) for verification. The only stupid question is the one left unasked.
If these points help anyone, even remotely, then I consider this post a success. Just remember, common sense is key. Keep your eyes open, and if you find that you’ve fallen victim to number three, consider changing your password(s). Here’s a great post on keeping your passwords strong: The Top Ten Commandments of Password Protection (edit: original link was to an article on Securityphile, written by Jason, but he’s since removed the article). You don’t have to follow all of them, but the more you do, the better.
I’m always happy to answer questions! Comment here, send me an email, or grab me on Twitter.
Part 2 of this post can be found here: Digitally Transmitted Diseases 101.