Staying safe online

This is where people worried about online and security or need general information can ask questions and receive support. Hacking and Malware is on the rise, so the more education people hand out the less people get scammed, which is why I'm extremely happy to share this knowledge and supply links for external learning.


1. Phishing Scams

These generally come as emails. Never hand out credentials like name, address, phones numbers and login details from your email. Use your head, if you've an email from PayPal or your bank call them instead. When it comes to suspected dodgy emails don't follow any links and don't open any attachments as these can contain macro viruses which can download other malware onto your computer.



2. Tech Support Scams

If you're browsing the web and a giant popup boasts you have viruses and starts talking stating you should call "tech support" then close the page. If you cannot close the page or browser then restart your computer. After tricking people into calling the scammers then ask for remote access to your computer and attempt to bait you into paying to fix non existent-issues. They also have access to your files which can be easily deleted.



3. Free media and video websites

The best place to pick yourself up a flash player update, except it's probably not flash player, but a rogue software instead. Many free media and video websites are infested with infected adverts, pop-ups and "plugin" software required to watch their videos or listen to a song. Downloading software from these websites is risky as you could become infected if your computer does not have an up-to-date antivirus software. These types of websites can also infect your computer via drive-by downloads.



4. Shopping

Digital shopping is becoming vastly popular, but many have lost money from not carrying out necessary checks to prove the shop is authentic. Here are some steps to ensure you're safe:

  1. Make sure your antivirus is patched as hidden viruses can steal credentials.
  2. Check the store web address starts with https:// and has a padlock icon near the URL. The padlock can be clicked to verify the company's identity.
  3. Don't use open public Wi-Fi to shop, unsecured networks can be accessed by anyone, including identify thieves and hackers.
  4. Keep your internet browser patched and updated, this way any recent security flaws will be patched.
  5. It's highly recommended to use a strong password, you can generate one at strongpasswordgenerator. This website is http secure, so your browsing is encrypted. Click the padlock for more information.
  6. PayPal is your friend as your payments are protected, especially if a something is never delivered.
  7. You can also use a virtual credit card online, this is an add-on for your primary banking and only exists digitally. This means your card number is never exposed online.
  8. If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.

What is https://? - HyperText Transport Protocol Secure encrypts web traffic end to end so your browsing data is secure from prying eyes.



5. Staying protected

Every computer should have a reputable antivirus installed. Here is a list of common antivirus software(s) that may include a free tier, including additional information.


#1 Bitdefender - Various tiers including a free version.

#2 Mcafee - Various tiers including a free version. (Needs clarification)

#3 Webroot - Various tiers including a free trial.

#4 Norton - Various tiers including a free trials of specific tiers.

#5 Kaspersky - Various tiers based on customer specification including free trials of specific tiers.

#6 Avast - Various tiers including a free version.

#7 Emsisoft - Various tiers including a free version. (Needs clarification)

#8 ESET - Various tiers including free trials of specific tiers.

#9 F-Secure - Various tiers, there is also a free online scanner.

#10 Trend Micro - Various tiers and free mobile protection.


Thanks to PCMag for the antivirus list. For those who want to see the best antivirus programs based on real world tests, you can look at the monthly report lists at av comparatives.


Alongside my antivirus I run Malwarebytes as it works extremely well with other protection software(s). It can also actively protect against zero-day exploits and Ransomware which encrypts your files. Malwarebytes includes a free trial and is worth every penny if you purchase it.



6. Updating Windows

This is critical and should be completed weekly, the process is also automatic and may require a restart. The recent Wannacry Ransomware utilised a Windows SMB server exploit which has now been patched by Microsoft, hence why it's import to apply Windows updates regularly. Updating Windows fixes security flaws and issues reported by users.


For information in how to update your computer please visit this link.



7. Checking files for malware


If you have downloaded a file and are unsure if it's legitimate you can upload it to virus total. This web app scans any uploaded file against a comprehensive list of antivirus definitions and will report if it's illicit. Simply visit virus total, choose a file and scan it. You may have to wait in a queue but it shouldn't take long.


More information will be added. If you'd like to see something on this list please discuss it here.

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