Internet Security Guidelines

 

• Use a router. A router or wireless gateway will prevent hackers from being able to directly attacking your computer through the Internet. Many routers have additional security features to prevent hackers from exploiting your computer. Even if you only have one computer connected to the network, please purchase and install a router or wireless gateway.

Install antivirus software and keep it updated. Run scans regularly, and let it scan your incoming and outgoing messages. We do have some antivirus recommendations available on our website. For Windows users, we recommend using Avast.  

Use a bidirectional firewall, which prevents unwanted inbound and outbound traffic. These come standard with Windows XP SP2+, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and the latest versions of Mac OS X.  We recommend turning on the native firewall application on your operating system.

Don't mix multiple firewall or antivirus programs. This practice will not give you extra protection. In fact, it is likely to give you extra problems. 

Allow autoupdates. Microsoft, Apple and most common versions of Linux are constantly resolving security issues, as they are found.

Be 100% certain before opening an attachment, they may contain malware or a virus. If you weren't expecting to receive an email with an attachment, then it probably does contain a virus.

Use strong passwords. Mix alphabetical and numeric characters, or use a phrase, if you can. Words found in the dictionary, proper names (especially spouses and children), and dates do not make good passwords. Avoid using commonly attempted passwords. Examples of this are using your zip code, phone number, street name, or street address.

Don't click on a link in an email, unless you are 100% certain that it is safe. This includes links to online greeting cards. Email links are a favorite way for “phishers” to trick you into giving out personal information. 

Don't trust pop-up security alerts while you are browsing the Internet. Pop-up security alerts, especially most likely contain adware.

Use phishing filters. In Firefox, click on the Security tab, under Options, and check the box next to “Tell me if the site I'm visiting is a suspected forgery” as well as the box next to “Check by asking Google.” You can turn on the phishing filter in Internet Explorer 7 via the Tools menu. Google Chrome comes with the default option set to “Enable phishing and malware protection” but you can make sure it is enabled by checking under “Options->Under the Hood->Privacy”

Never enter personal information on an unsecured site. Look in the address bar for “https”. The “s” means it's secure. However, being a secure site doesn't necessarily make it trustworthy... another good reason not to trust website links that are sent in an email.

Change default passwords. Your router comes with a default user name and password, which is publicly available and widely know. There are many common exploits for these default passwords so its imperative that you change the password. If you don't,  someone could reconfigure your router, redirect all your traffic to their servers and possibly steal the information you pass from your computer to the Internet. Consult your router's user guide for information on how to change your password.

Secure your wireless router. Use Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) or Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS), so that unwelcome users cannot connect to your router, to use your Internet connection or potentially access your computer. Consult your router's user guide for information on how to set up wireless security.

 

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