By Brendan Fitzpatrick
Browsing the internet is like walking the streets of a big city, generally speaking you should be safe on the main streets during normal hours.. but walk down the wrong side street or looking for a deal that is too good to be true is almost certain to get you into trouble fast.
Stick to well known sites such as google.com, yahoo.com, amazon.com and listen to your friends and family for ideas of where to go on the internet. Never click on links from one site to another or even from your email as it is very easy for someone to trick you into thinking you are on a different site. Be careful of long URL’s, especially the kind where you can’t see the web site address of the site you are on – this should send up red flags immediately.
If you pay your bills online then always type the URL in your browser and navigate to the login and billing section to configure your account. Many spam emails (emails that pretend to be one site but try to get you to a spoofed site to get your information) are sent on a daily basis, do not trust emails.. ever!
When you are on a trusted site, whether it be a well known site or one that a friend recommended – always check to see if your browser address indicates http:// or https:// before logging in or putting in your personal information such as credit card information. If it does not say https:// (for secure connection) then do not use that site for transactions.
You don’t want to perform 100% of your buying and paying bills online – ask yourself, “do I have to buy this or pay this online?”. Ask yourself what you would do if you didn’t have Internet access and consider that alternative.
Always look for the ‘lock’ either to the left of the URL or bottom of your browser, if it is not green or has an ‘X’ through it then stop! Do not submit your personal information on that page. Get used to clicking on the lock to learn more about Internet Security in general.
It’s great the way the Internet has made lives easier but keep in mind there are alot of security issues with almost every web site, there are new vulnerabilities that come out on a daily basis – most big companies will have a strong defense process (commonly known as Vulnerability Threat Management or VTM process) but threats are commonly misdiagnosed and sometimes fixed too late. Be conscious that hackers are often times ahead of Industry Security measures and ask yourself do I really need to post my personal information on this site before doing so blindly.