Staying Safe This Holiday Season

Yes, you have started to hear no doubt about the holidays and all it’s wonderful magic. No doubt you have also heard about being safe, usually in reference to too much drinking at those awkwardly awful family parties and the weather. But at Computer Geeks we want to key you in on more important matters: your computer safety.

How safe is your computer? If you use the internet you take the risk of catching a virus, like the cold it can be prevented if you take certain steps. No I am not talking about downloading the latest anti-virus software or the cool new tool that can fly around your computer like superman saving your files from the evil file corrupter.

I am talking about what is already on your computer, like your web browser whether that be Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Chrome, that have the tools you need to protect yourself. You can find these tools in the ‘Tools’ menu bar located at the top of your browser. Look at ‘options’ on Firefox or ‘security zones’ on Internet Explorer. By telling your browser exactly what type of sites it is allowed to visit and the level of restriction, you are ensuring that you will be protected from spyware, unwanted advertisements, and those “drive-by” downloads.

You may have heard recently that there was a big “drive-by” attack that hackers did on IE6. What happened was that hackers were able to get into a certain website and make links using the sites name to another website, which people visited, and got screwed because just by being on the site malicious software and viruses were downloaded to people’s computers.They are still doing it on IE8, so be careful.

That is just one example of how easy it is for hackers to get into your system, simply by taking over a website and waiting for a user to walk aimlessly into the site, unaware that they will be regretting not listening to this blog and taking the necessary steps to prevent such a thing!

One of these steps involves securing your email, particularly in Outlook. A common pitfall that is easily overlooked is the text. You have two choices: HTML-Text, or Plain Text, which is better? It is not a question of better, but safer. HTML might look good, but in the long run it is dangerous because this is where all those phishing scams thrive on. By using Plain Text it disables the Active Content that opens email attachments automatically, and allows safer emailing.

Instant Messaging worms have become more and more vicious and prevalent in today’s internet world. Be careful when talking with your friends online, be wary of ‘Away’ messages, because if you are chatting with someone who sent you a malicious worm or virus masquerading as a link somewhere infected you could be in for a bad time. You can usually tell when a message like in email that is suspicious.

Hackers are always looking for new ways to get into your computer and screw things up. Do not allow them to, especially during the holidays when you should be out gallivanting around with your family enjoying the holiday spirit.

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