Keeping Yourself Safe

Before proceeding, a brief disclaimer: while I have owned computers for years without any major problems, I am not an expert in the field. I can only provide “grandma’s tips”, as I could say if I weren’t talking about computers (my grandmother has never been near a computer, let alone used one).

Downloading

By downloading files from the internet, you can find yourself downloading pretty much anything. The innocent-looking MP3 or program can turn out to give you a nasty virus or some form of malware. This is why, at least if you are using a Windows computer, you should always have a working anti-virus software that scans newly downloaded files. Likewise, a program to scan for and get rid of malware (adware and spyware) is highly recommended.

Generally, files that have the highest malicious potential are compressed files (.zip, .tar, .tar.gz and .rar are the most common extensions) and executable files (.exe, applications).

Registration

Registering to certain sites, for example online shops or forums, can grant access to a wide range of features. It is however always important to make sure you are truly signing up for what you believe you are!

While Privacy Policies and Terms of Use might look like pains in the rear bumper, they can contain vital information. Also always look carefully and those checkboxes. Are you allowing third-party promotional email to be sent to you?

Generally, you should simply use common sense. It is not realistic for a mailing newsletter to need your credit card number. They should only be requiring your email address.

Hotbar, or the Bar From Hell

Hotbar is a monster that adds a “skin” to your browser. I know it is compatible with Internet Explorer, but I don’t know about other browsers. It also loves to bring friends with it when paying you a visit. In other words, it will install malware, adware, spyware, tracking cookies, etc., all by looking at your daily browsing activities.

In other words, never, ever use Hotbar. If it has been installed on your computer, then make sure to not only uninstall it, but also run checks with some anti-virus and anti-malware software to make sure it hasn’t left any of its junk.

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