The Internet isn’t safe. Over half of the clients at computer repair shops are there because of a malicious attack. By knowing about the dangers in the World Wide Web and using safe browsing practices, you can protect your data and prevent the need for computer repair services.
What is Web Browsing?
Web browsing is the same as Web surfing—it’s when you go online to look up items of interest, do some research, watch funny videos of cats and the like. When you go online, you do so using a Web browser, which is the program that lets you get on the Internet. Common browsers are Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer and Safari.
The Dangers of Web Browsing
- Anti-virus software doesn’t always protect you.Anti-virus and anti-spyware software programs are only as good as the maintenance that you put into them. Hackers make new viruses and malware all the time, so it’s up to you to update the software regularly so it knows to look for the new threats. It’s also your responsibility to scan your computer regularly. A computer repair technician can show you how to set up the programs so they automatically update and scan your system.
- Seemingly safe sites aren’t always safe. It’s not just gambling, adult or other questionable websites in which viruses and malware lurk. Even “safe” sites like online retailers, search engines and social media sites can pose a risk.
- You don’t have to physically download anything to get a virus.Weaknesses in an operating system, plug-in or a software program that accesses the Internet can put your computer at risk for “drive-by” downloads with viruses or malware. (Computer repair services help customers with these a lot.) These types of downloads are sneaky and don’t ask your permission to install themselves in your computer.
- Passwords are only good for so long. No single password is safe. If you use the same password for too long or for all the websites that require a password, hackers can use phishing techniques or key-logging programs to get your login information.
- Apple devices are vulnerable. Once upon a time, it seemed as if hackers couldn’t penetrate Apple devices. The rise in popularity in Apple products prompted intruders to create viruses and malware that can infect Apple operating systems.
- Your mobile devices pose a risk.Smartphones and tablets that connect to the Internet are miniature computers. A hacker can access the information saved on these devices like he would a computer.
- You can get an infection and not know it.Today’s hackers rely on stealth. Viruses and malware don’t always slow down your computer or make it act strange.
Tips for Safe Web Browsing
- Install a firewall.
- Regularly update your antivirus and anti-spyware programs, and scan your computer often.
- Install antivirus programs on mobile devices that connect to the Internet.
- Always surf the Web using a secure Internet connection or Wi-Fi hotspot.
- Turn off the Wi-Fi on a computer, laptop, tablet and cellphone when you’re not online.
- Avoid accessing password-protected websites or apps in areas that don’t have secure Internet connections, like coffee shops or airports.
- Look for the padlock symbol within a browser’s frame before entering personal or sensitive information on a website. If you double-click on the icon, a current “certificate” that’s issued to the website’s company should pop open.
- Don’t open unsolicited emails.
- Don’t click on pop-ups that warn that your computer is infected with a virus.
- Change your passwords often. The best are those that have at least 10 characters and contain a combination of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.
The Internet is an amazing tool. By taking the time to fortify your system and being smart about how you use surf the Web, you can enjoy what the Internet has to offer with peace of mind. If you’re not sure about how to protect your computer or want recommendations about the best antivirus programs to use, contact any place that offers computer repair services.
AUTHOR BIO: This post was contributed by the founder of Happy Hamster Computers, Zac Cramer. Happy Hamster, Portland Oregon’s largest independently owned computer store, provides top quality computers, computer repair services and financing for your laptop home office, or small business.