Nowadays, many people seemed to have forgotten the importance (and the inherent dangers) of their computer’s browser. They forgot that the browser, per se, works like a two-way street. It is where cyber security should police the two-way cyber traffic.
A web browser’s main job is to find and display web pages. From there, it makes possible the “communication” between your computer and the web server where a site is located.
Cyber security risks
But, your browser is also – and this is the dangerous part – the gateway of the cyber world into your computer. And, not all of the things from the Internet going inside your computer are good. Some are downright risky.
Today’s browser is sophisticated enough, through the years of innovation, to handle the multiple applications needed to surf the Internet. Many of these try to boost up and heighten the surfing experience by enabling your browser’s functionalities.
But sometimes, these functionalities are not needed and they can leave your computer vulnerable. It is therefore safe to disable them until they are needed.
In a perfect world, one should set one’s browser security to the highest level possible. But these settings may restrict the functionality of other features and prevents some web pages to load properly. The best compromise solution would be to set your browser to the highest security level (to prevent attacks) but at the same time enabling some features to work when you need them.
Today’s many browsers are mostly graphical browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, AOL, Opera, Safari for the Macintosh, and Lynx for the visually-impaired users.) These are capable of playing video and audio clips, aside from displaying texts and graphics. Most have user-friendly tabs and options in choosing your preferred security level setting.
It is important to know and be familiar with your browser and how it is different from the others. It will come in handy when you evaluate and determine the features and setting most appropriate for your use.
For instance, to explore the basic security options in Windows’ Internet Explorer, you click Tools on the menu bar, select Internet Options, choose the Security tab, and click the Custom level. In Firefox, you click Tools first, select Options, and then click Content Privacy and Security tabs. The others have their own path systems.
Choosing your browser
Security should be paramount in choosing your browser. But, of course, given one’s particular needs in surfing and using the Internet, other considerations are just as important. Sometimes, a browser comes packaged with the operating system. It should not limit, however, your choice.
Compatibility – does your browser work with the OS (operating system) of your computer?
Ease – are you comfortable and familiar with the options, menus, system of your browser?
Function –will it still work if other plug-ins or other devices are installed?
Appeal – do you like how your browser looks and works?
Functionalities - Your browser should be able to give you the option of putting web sites into different segments, or zones, and define different security restrictions for each. The best protection should be to set the security to the highest level, or maintain it at a medium level.
If you know of some sites which can be classified as trusted, you can set your browser setting accordingly. You may require them to implement SSL or Secure Sockets Layer so you can verify if they are what they claim to be. Note, however, that it is good to avoid lowering your security levels with them. If they are attacked, you might be included.
You may restrict particular sites you are not sure of. Prevention is always the best cure for any disease, real-life or online.
Be careful about your Java and ActiveX controls. These scripts, used to achieve certain appearances or functionality, can be used in attacking your computer. This is also true about Plug-ins, those additional software that enhances the function of some programs. Make sure that the sites that installing them are trustworthy.
For safety, it is advisable to disable Cookies and enable them only if the site you trust requires them.
Cyber Security starts first in your browser. It is best that you start the safeguarding process from there, your computer’s door to the wide, wild world of cyber space.
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For added protection browse in Sandboxed environment. Get Sandboxie here
Cyber security is among the toughest issues to resolve. It has proven to be difficult since it is constantly evolving and most of our daily activities can be hit by it. How much do we rely on computers nowadays? A lot. Whether it is transportation, entertainment, communication, finance, and even daily needs. Everything seems to be computerized. What do you think would happen if these systems would crash? Catastrophe would ensue.
There are simple things that we could do to ensure the safety of our systems and computers. For your accounts and computer:
• Make sure that the passwords you are using cannot be immediately guessed. Another common mistake made is that they would be jotting their passwords. Surveys said that about 1 out of 3 workers would write their passwords. Inside attack is one of cyber security attacks, this could mean that a disgruntled employee could use other people’s passwords to access the system.
There are companies, especially outsourcing companies, that strongly prohibit any kind of written password, like mentioned in the example.
• Aside from the password, there are also operating systems and applications that could protect your account and computer. Firewall for starters, should be installed and used. A firewall is a program that blocks unauthorized Internet traffic, just like how a physical firewall works. Setting up and configuring a firewall, will actually help you maximize its full potential.
Anti-virus software can be your best shot to make sure that your computer is protected, you just have to make sure that it is regularly updated. Anti-virus software would come with spyware detecting programs. There are new computers, nowadays, that are offering or already have an installed anti-virus software.
• If you have sensitive documents in your account and computer, it would be better if you would be encrypting the data. When deleting sensitive documents, then you make sure that it has been totally removed from the system. Hackers are capable of restoring or retrieving any deleted documents especially if it is not totally removed from the documents.
Electronic mails are also vulnerable to cyber security attacks. Different styles and types of e-mail scams are being developed everyday, so everybody has to be prepared and alert whenever we receive emails. Here are some signs that these e-mails are possible sources of cyber security attacks.
• The email is not addressed to you personally and aside from that the sender of the email is somebody you are not even familiar with. Most of phishing e-mails would have an attachments along with the email. These attachments do not even have a clear title or clear purpose.
• As your read the email, you will notice a lot of spelling and grammatical errors which indicates how unprofessional it is.
• Emails that ask you to provide financial information like credit card number, social security number, password and asking you to send some money, is totally a scam. Banks and other institutions do not ask you these kinds of information over an email.
When you received this kind of email, do not click on any links or attachments. These links and attachments would bring you to sites that have high risks of viruses and spyware. For example, experts would say that attachments ending in ".vbs," ".scr," ".exe," or ".pif" can have viruses. It is best to immediately delete the email, do not even open or respond to the email.
Another assurance that even if your computer and cyber security has been attacked is by regularly saving your data and making a back-up disk. So, if ever your computer crashes because or loses some information because of viruses, you would be prepared for it since you have a back-up.
Many people are put off with the term cyber security. They think it involves highly technological processes and elaborate computer knowledge. Not at all. Cyber security is foremost about identifying threats and taking measures as simple as creating an indecipherable password. There is nothing too technical about that. In fact, cyber security measures are all too simple to follow. Check out the following cyber security tips.
1.) Use strong passwords. Avoid using names, birthdays, addresses, and other personal information as password. Do not use a word found in the dictionary as well, since hackers have found a way to decipher dictionary-generated passwords using certain tools. In general, a good password is at least eight-characters long and should be hard to crack. You can combine upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols. One good practice is to form a password from a phrase. For example, you can create t1$!C4gtMpSd from “This is so I can’t forget my password.” You can use other methods with which you can form unique and cryptic passwords.
2.) Change your password periodically. This is important especially if, at some point, you have to disclose your password. Remember not to write it down, or if you should, discard the paper immediately. You never know the danger negligence can impose on your security. I would suggest you guys to use Keepass to manage your passwords. Keepass also can generate strong, random password for extra security.
3.) Be scrupulous with emails. Unsolicited emails are sometimes the onset of cyber attacks. Remember not to open attached files from unknown senders, as they may contain malware that can open backdoors for hackers. Clicking on the links can also direct you to some compromising websites, so be cautious. If a link looks suspicious, look it up on the web and do a quick research. Avoid giving information to unknown senders as well. The rule of thumb is to ignore seemingly malicious mails. Do not reply to and forward them.
4.) Install security programs on your computer and keep them updated. It is very important to have anti-virus and anti-spyware software and to keep your firewall on. Poorly secured systems are open doors for attackers and intruders, but these software programs keep viruses and spyware from penetrating and crippling your system. The firewall, on the other hand, guards your system from unauthorized access to your computer. Some operating systems allow automatic security updates. Check if yours have this option. I personally use 4 tier protection that consist of COMODO Internet Security + SMADAV + Threatfire + Sandboxie on my PC.
COMODO Internet Securityis a free powerful firewall and antivirus program and SMADAV is another layer of free antivirus which is developed to counter viruses in the Asian region. Combination of Sandboxie a proggie that provide sandboxed web browsing environment and Threatfire the trusted antispyware application, I feel a lot more secure when venturing in world wide web.
5.) Avoid opening files sent through Instant Messenger. These files do not undergo scanning and might carry security threats to your computer. Do not simply add unknown contact or allow stranger to add you to their messenger list.
6.) Ignore the links on pop-up windows. Block pop-up ads and windows to close an entryway for malware and other forms of attack. The safest way to close the pop up is ot by clicking it, instead, use shorcut key ( Alt + F4 ) to close the pop up windows.
7.) Avoid downloading files, programs, applications, or tools from unknown websites. More often than not, these free downloadable stuffs are loaded with threats. Before you download, make sure the website is a credible source. Scanning downloaded files before running the executable files or running them in a sandboxed environment is the best and wisest choice.
8.) Make sure to keep your system clean. Remove any tool, application, or program that is not used. Check also unused default programs installed on your operating system. It’s better to have few programs than have many but unused ones, which can only slow down your computer and be an opening for malicious attacks.
A poorly secured computer runs the risk of being hijacked and left as a zombie machine. Secretly, the hacker uses this computer to gain access to personal and confidential accounts and information. Next thing you know, your credit card has been used for unauthorized purchases, your savings account has been ransacked, your competitor has spied on your company, and the list can go on and on.
But some simple and easy-to-follow cyber security tips can eliminate the possibility of falling prey to any of these cyber crimes.