Internet Security: How to Avoid Being Phish Bait in the Digital Age

// Posted by on 05/30/2015 (4:06 PM)


The internet has become a hub for rapid international commerce, as well as an easy source for unprotected credit card data, as well as underlying information that is tantamount for the hacking of personal accounts. It’s not uncommon for people to use online banking, bill pay, as well as purchase goods and services such as through Amazon or Groupon. However, companies such as Target and Home Depot have experienced data breaches, allowing hackers access to their customers’ sensitive information.

In order to protect ourselves from being victimized in online scams and schemes, it would be within the user’s best interest to frequently change his or her password for major accounts. Also, using unique passwords for each count, while sometimes difficult to remember which password goes where, is a wise idea. These passwords, such as ones with combinations of letters, numbers, and special characters, are useful ways to thwart phishing and spambots.

Since so much information is put online when purchases are made, that it is difficult to maintain total privacy from the small possibility that some rogue employee in a call center, or a hidden piece of malware, could steal precious data.

I don’t generally use online bill pay, except for Care Credit (which is basically a medical payment system, usually used in emergency situations when ordinary payment is not immediately available), and don’t actually see the option for online billing that often. I would never stop emailing, texting, or using social media, as I don’t have anything that I am ashamed of, and thus I am not concerned with others seeing my interests online.

If I wrote something that was flagged by the NSA, I would save a copy for potential interrogation, remove the content if it is online, and alert the NSA that a mistake has likely been made. If I accidentally released a worm, I would contact an antivirus programmer, as well as the media (in order to get people aware of the problem), using a different device in order to safeguard others through social media.

Personally, I’ve been hit many times with malware and viruses, as I am TERRIBLE about remembering to update my antivirus software. Those little balloons pop up in the bottom right corner reminding me to run updates, but I do tend to dismiss them. My old desktop computer was bombarded with spyware/malware- the last time I ran antivirus software, there were over 400 items flagged! These include a difficult-to-remove adware file called “Aurora,” which slowed down the computer for over a year. As I mentioned in a previous post, the same computer was infected with a rootkit, masking a virus containing images considered “not safe for work,” which also required a lengthy removal process.

The Internet, while allowing for the fastest source of commerce in the world, even permitting the conclusion of international sales in seconds, is far from perfect in commercial security, and has had its vulnerabilities exposed many times. Internet users can use different complex passwords and stronger, frequently updated firewalls to maximize their protection from the latest cyber threats.

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Shirley said...

Sarah, this is so true. I recently stopped resisting the temptation to shop online. Now I receive a flood of email from merchants I don’t what to buy from. We give a little and they take a lot. The thought that this form of information pirating has been around since the first government census is scary. Sorry to hear you have been hit by malware and viruses. Thank goodness I do not have anything work damaging!

// 05/30/2015 at 10:00 pm