By: Emma Kavanagh
Photo by: Gerd Altman (Pixabay)
There are many dangers of the Internet we’re all exposed to on a daily basis. Plenty of risky behaviors can be avoided to make sure things are just that little bit safer … but no matter what, there’s always some chance of trouble. That’s why you should be aware of some of the most common Internet dangers and take appropriate steps to protect your computer and data.
Here are some of the most prevalent dangers of Internet use and what to be aware of.
Phishing scams try to get you to volunteer some personal information, such as Social Security or bank account numbers. They’re one of the most common dangers of the Internet … coming in the form of hundreds of millions of spam emails sent every day to users all around the world. Many of these emails will be crafted to look like messages from your bank. Remember that your bank will never request your passwords, account numbers or other info through an email message. Phishing emails typically feature poor spelling and other clues that they aren’t authentic. Don’t click on any links in these messages: Delete them right away.
- Need help recognizing phishing scams? Try the Anti-Phishing Working Group.
Malware, Trojans, and Viruses
“Trojan” refers to any software that masquerades as something useful. As one of the biggest Internet dangers, it’s very easy to pick up a Trojan when searching for legitimate software. Trojan sites often try to confuse you by including ads that look like download buttons. Trojan software can also be bundled with software that you intended to download: It typically relies on you clicking “Install With Recommended Settings” to access your computer. Always choose a custom installation and unclick any “browser bars” or “tools” that might be included. These are not viruses, but they can slow down your computer and redirect your browser to ads.
- Learn more about computer viruses, what they are, and what they can do at Wired Safety.
Online Bullying and Cyber-Stalking
With social media being so popular these days, it’s no surprise that incidents of online stalking and bullying are going up. While online bullying mostly takes place between younger people, online stalking can be a serious problem for anyone – it can result in real-life violence or be part of a scheme to steal your identity. When using social networks, it’s important to be careful about the amount of personal information you share and who you share it with. Be aware of your privacy settings and understand that even the strictest settings have limits … limits that are usually intended to get social media users to overshare. Be wary of mobile “check-in” apps, too.
- Find helpful info and shocking stats on cyber-stalking at Working to Halt Online Abuse.
The dangers of Internet use are made a lot worse by risky behaviors. Many sites dealing with adult subject matter and potentially illegal content such as pirated software are compromised by a variety of viruses. Teach children the “rules of the road” and discourage them from taking risks when it comes to downloading what looks like the latest movie or game. Such sites often launch malicious pop-up windows that can automatically install dangerous software. Turn up your browser’s security settings to ensure no installations can take place without your consent. Remember that many browsers can also be extended to block pop-up windows, too.
- The FBI has more information on the links between piracy and malware.
One of the most important things that you can do to safeguard yourself on the Internet is ensure your computer is backed by the most powerful antivirus software out there — Norton 360 provides proactive defense features that can protect you from many of the worst online risks.