Easy to apply online security precautions.

Online Security Precautions

Ever heard of zombie ants? An entire ant colony can be wiped out by fungus spores. The spores make their way into the ant’s brain, which then make them react like zombies. The spores drive the ants up, where they lock on with their jaws. This is when the spores starts growing from the ants head, to later burst open and spread new spores.

A last interesting fact is when one ant notice the zombie behaviour in another, the healthy ant carries the infected ant off to a designated area.

What does this have to do with online security?

The ants have a problem with spores and they have a way to fight it, maybe not a solution, but a way to cut risk – a strategy.

Online security is a widely discussed topic on the internet, and trying to puzzle out what will work for you, can become a mission.  Here is a list of things you can carry out to slow down some of the issues:

  • Downloading Security Updates
  • Screening e-mail
  • Shutting down Spy-ware
  • Controlling cookies

Ever thought of security this way: Will you be happy and able to act normal if you where to be placed under constant camera surveillance? This is not the same situation with online privacy, but in a way it is. Companies collects all sorts of information about you and then use it or even sell it to re-market stuff to you.

An interesting tech term is PII – Personally Identifying Information or non-PII. In Broadview there are 2 camps. One being the – “Privacy is dead” group and to the other extreme you get the “Protection from abuses by those in power” group, where do you fit in?

Downloading Security Updates

A simple setting can prevent your computer from downloading and installing the latest updates, it’s alarming how often I come across pc’s with the updates turned off and outdated by months or even years.

The updates to your operating system are not the only updates, two more that must be kept fresh (if you use them) are, Flash and java. Unlike Windows, these do not update without interaction from you, and are left way too often.

The updates for the 2 mentioned above happens a little different, you should receive a notification icon, somewhere next to the time. Flash some times start after a reboot, first make sure you are connected to the internet otherwise the install will fail and you may think that your OS are updated, but not.

Both of these  makes use of an installer, to safely download and install the updates. Make sure that you do not install the other stuff they ask you during the install. The one likes to reset your browsers home page and the other adds a toolbar to your browser.

5 tips for managing security in Windows 8.1 – Read Article
Checking Windows 7 update settings – here
Update flash from – here
Java updates information – here

Screening E-mail

When talking email security, the email clients talk pops up first. I am sure there are many posts about outlook and other Microsoft products, but I always install Thunderbird and for many reasons, security being one, I strongly recommend using Thunderbird. In Thunderbird, one of the many settings allows for adaptive junk controls. This is a way that you can teach the program how to filter email.

With regards to scam emails, no you did not inherit millions, and if you don’t bank with ABSA but getting messages….it’s a scam. You left with using your common sense. Avoid clicking links in emails from unknown sources.

Shutting down Spy-ware

Spy-ware can do more damage than a virus. Many anti-virus software programs come with features to prevent spy-ware, a good idea is to check your spy-ware settings if you use a bundled package. You may want to make adjustments to the settings to protect your system more rigorously.

Spy-ware can find its way to your pc through flash disks or by downloading the wrong site. You may need to spend some time working this one out, but if you open your services manager, go through all the running applications and look for unusual looking names. You can Google search to learn what it is and if it turns out to be spy-ware, remove it.

Some spy-ware apps runs so hidden you can not see them running in the services, this is where a good spy-ware removal tool comes in handy.

Controlling Cookies

Cookies are small files dropped by websites on your computer and a handy tool for websites to remember who you are next time you visit, and a string of other stuff. Many big sites will not let you use their services without cookies.

A tip will be to look at their privacy statement, there you can find out how the site will use the information collected. If a website does not have a privacy policy, don’t fill in any of the forms on the site.

In the end of the day, there is nothing difficult about cookies, if you get a notice about it, read what it’s about and decide if you want to go on or not.

In Conclusion

As per Wikipedia, other options you have to improve online privacy includes, blocking pop-ups, limiting the usage of ID numbers online, being wary of emails including spam messages, being mindful of personal financial details, creating and managing strong passwords, and intelligent web-browsing behaviours are recommended.

Renier van den Berg
Working alone, providing digital services to businesses in different sectors, comes with an advantage. I get to see the similarities in businesses operating in different sectors and will gladly help you to implement the right digital strategies and applications to save money and generate more business leads.