Internet Browsing Best Practices

It only takes a little bit of effort, and some basic information, to help keep your computer are safe.


Safe Browsing Techniques

  • Visit only trusted sites with valid security certificates.
  • Avoid adult related websites. These sites are "hotspots" for malware, pop-up ads, and various other security threats.
  • Use an abundance of caution when giving out personal or financial information.
  • Be very careful when asked to fill out personal information. Never give out information on a website that is not encrypted.  Look in the browsers address bar for the lock & the https://

  • Only use download managers from trusted websites.
  • Avoid free software and file-sharing applications. If it is necessary that you download these, do your research!
  • When in doubt, DENY or CANCEL. Never assume that a security dialog box is safe, even if it is from a website that you frequent.
  • NEVER open an email attachment, or click on a link within the email or IM. Even if it is from someone that you know. It isn't difficult to "spoof" an email to make it look like it is coming from someone that you know.
    • You can type the URL directly into your browser, or a search engine to check if it is safe.
  • Avoid clicking on links in general. Ads, offers, articles, etc. These are all potentially dangerous. You can easily enter the information from the ad or article into a search engine if it is something that you want to see. 
  • When on a public or shared computer:
    • Remember to log out of all accounts, websites, email, etc.
    • Be very careful when using removable media, ie. flash drives, etc. Viruses and malware can copy themselves onto these without your knowledge.
  • Bookmark important sites, ie. financial institutions, any site that requires you to enter information in order to access it. Any small mistype in the URL bar can lead you to a website that looks similar enough that you may not notice until you have already given them your personal information.
  • UPDATE, UPDATE, UPDATE. It is very important that you keep your web browser (Firefox, IE, Chrome), operating system, and anti-virus software up-to-date. These updates are the only way to make sure that the latest virus signatures, known patches, etc are in the software so that it can protect you.
  • Watching or listening to streaming media may require that you download a special media player that could contain malware. Stick to known and trusted streaming sites.
  • Any link promising to make your computer faster or fix an issue is most likely spyware. Even if it isn't spyware, it is most certainly not going to do as it states.
  • Never trust free content. Most movies, songs, etc that are offered free online contain pirated content and often contain malware and viruses.
  • Use long passwords whenever possible. Most sites also require a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. Use different passwords for different sites.  Using a password manager makes it easier to remember all those passwords.
  • Avoid entering sensitive information (name, address, credit card, social security number) on free/public wi-fi.

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