Bill's "How to Stay Safe on the Web", or, "It is Good to be Paranoid!"
ask me all the time,
"How can I be safe on the Web?" This is because in my
plus years of computer use, I have never
had a virus. I have never
had my money scammed,
and I have never
lost data (unless due to physical disk failure, and then, I had
backups.) Here are some rules to live by on the Web:
in "real life",
is a considered a bad thing. NOT
so on the Web! The attitude to be safe on the Web is that EVERYONE
and out to take you
for all you've got! The Web is
the "wild, wild west" of the computer world! The only way
you'll avoid some ambushes out there is by using your wits! Think twice
before you click that link that promises not-to-be-missed
delights! Unless you KNOW,
that you KNOW
the offer, or whatever, is legitimate, ALWAYS
assume it is out to get you! Imagine an evil, sleazy bum with
two days growth of beard and a beer gut poking out from his nasty
tee-shirt is salivating watching whether
you are going to click that button! Believe me, he's out
wary of ANY
popup or message that shows up out of the blue. Don't click any
links! Don't click on the "click here to close" message, a
button saying "click here to close" can be a button that installs
spyware, or much worse! Don't even click the "X" button in
the upper right hand corner to close the page. Hold down the"Ctrl" key
and press the "W" key to close them. If that doesn't work, click
Ctrl+Alt+Delete > highlight your browser on the list of
applications > click "Close Task" > and then close
Windows Task Manager window. Remember they ARE
out to get you! (Really.)
away from "back alley"
sites -- gothic, tres equis, warez, crackz, gamer, cheat codes --
places of that ilk. Be cautious at a site that you "stumble across." If
want to check out a dubious site, use a passive browser like Off-by-One
first. "Off-By-One" is a very, very "dumbed down" browser
won't leave any trace of you, or your personal info, at a
it doesn't support ANYTHING
that may compromise you (Java, ActiveX, etc.), for this reason, it is a
boring, stupid browser... but if you are planning to do something
it is a good way to minimize the risk. Remember the Redwine
you are gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough!"
websites or e-mails will
never ask for
your private information such as credit card information or your
account password unless you initiated the contact. [Scams, Hoaxes,
and Identity Theft] If you give any site or person your
information, you are saying, in effect, "I trust you completely with my
accounts, money, and my life!" Be sure that you KNOW
who you are dealing with! Never give anyone your Social
Security number. No one needs that but you and
Uncle Sam... and I wonder about him!
pop-up windows to
reduce your risk. The excellent Firefox
does a great job of blocking unwanted pop-ups. There are commercial
programs that will do this, too. BUT,
you are paying someone for something that Firefox does for free... how
smart is that? Let me put this another way... DON'T USE INTERNET
EXPLORER!!! USE FIREFOX!!! Or, Google Chrome, my favorite browser, and the safest on the Internet!
OK, are we clear on that?
cautious with most
generally available Webmail (like Hotmail and Yahoo) if you use it. Its
usually in HTML format. A malicious message embedded with evil code
could spoil your whole day
just as easily as a malicious webpage can. Usually there's a way to
suspicious messages without even opening them. Look for it and test it
before you need it. Of course, if you are using Squirrelmail
through any of my web server addresses (like ptnc.com, fvc.org, etc.)
will get Webmail that is always clean, protected and is passed through
multiple Spam and Virus filters. If you fall into this
category, then you are highly blessed and are extremely well
protected! And, if you are a friend of mine and want a free
protected web-based e-mail account (and also IMAP enabled) so you can
use Thunderbird (see below,) then send me an e-mail and I will set you
while we are on the
subject of e-mail... if you use Outlook or Outlook Express, then bless
your darling, widdle heart! You are in trouble! If
do so, at least (at the VERY LEAST!)
turn off the Preview Pane, and disable HTML messages. Look up
these topics in your version of Outlook's Help File, as it changes with
each version that M$ puts out, because they are evil. If
your ISP supports the IMAP mail protocol, you can have e-mail
that "lives" on the server, and can be read from a properly configured
client from anywhere. Must nicer and safer than
use POP3 e-mail, at least use the Thunderbird
e-mail client from mozilla.org to have a safe POP3 e-mail experience,
and get Thunderbird's free,
built-in spam blocker. Again, they have software that you can
buy to do this and try and protect Outlook, but you are paying money to
kludge M$'s unsafe software... again... is this smart? Find
out how to set up Thunderbird for IMAP HERE!
click on any links in e-mail. DO
believe messages that say they have thousands of dollars they want to
transfer into your bank account if you will JUST
send them your bank
account number. DO NOT
pass along e-mails that say, "Please pass this along to all your
friends." That is universally bad "netiquette" and makes you
look dumb to all the people that receive your e-mail. It eats
up expensive bandwidth and server disk space and costs millions of
dollars each year and the messages they are asking you to send
out are lying, bogus, and untrue. And some are just plain
stupid. Remember what the great philosopher Forrest Gump
is, as stupid does." True.
- DO NOT open attachments on e-mails!
That's right, I said do not open attachments AT ALL! But... but... I NEED to open my attachments!
Then you have just assessed the risk as "acceptable" and will
suffer the consequences if you are wrong. If you KNOW THAT YOU KNOW, that a
person that just said that they were going to send you an attachment
did so, and you choose to open it... it MAY be alright. But even if
they sent a legitimate aattachment THEY
may have a virus infection that will be spread to your system.
Opening attachments under ANY
condition is risky behavior!
careful when you download
files. Consider the source before you do, and be careful with any file,
even those from "trusted sites." Remember they ARE
out to get you! If you download and run a file, you are
the risk of losing ALL
data every time you do. Isn't it
worth an extra few moments
thought of, "Am I SURE
I know who this is, and that they are legit?" Did I mention that
they are out to get you?
- This is a Universal Truth: :
bloated, full of security holes and generally extremely poor examples
of computer programming. When possible use any other software
than Microsoft (which I usually shorten to "M$", for many
reasons.) If you need an excellent word processor,
spreadsheet and presentation package, use LibreOffice.org. Most aggressive macro viruses are written
for M$ software. Using Open Source packages will help protect
you... and they are free. You either paid huge money for the
M$ programs, or you stole them, got a copy from a friend (stole them,)
and are running illegal software by not having a licensed copy on each
machine that you use. This will cut short your blessings in
life, because stealing is... bad. Running free Open Source
software is... good. You can run it totally free and legal on
multiple machines. Your path to blessings are now
open. Don't you feel better? For example:
need a WYSIWYG ("what-you-see-is-what-you-get") web page editor you can
buy something like Adobe Dreamweaver for $300.00
plus, and pay for every successive upgrade for $100.00 plus, or you can
for free, and all future upgrades are also free.
the way, this page was written with KompoZer; I practice what I preach!
- You MUST
use a good anti-virus on EVERY
computer that you
use. This is so basic I shouldn't have to
it. "But it costs me "X" dollars every year to keep it
you say. Not if you use the free, and excellent, Ad-Aware
Anti-Virus. (Just be careful to install ONLY the Free Anti-Virus, NO options, like the web browser protection, it will install a browser bar... I hate those, don't you?)
Don't be dumb, be safe!
yourself from Ad-Ware and
Spyware. Use these free tools... all of them!!!
Regularly! As in once per week; and update the "signatures"
you do. SpywareBlaster,
Search & Destroy, and Ad-Aware.
This is NOT an option.
And remember... yes, you got it... they ARE out to get you!
remember... be paranoid! The computer that you save, may be