I'm Ammar Hasayen
Husband & Father | Microsoft MVP| I do Office 365 and Azure | Speaker and blogger | I Love music and exploring the world.
How Family safety online can help protect your information and privacy
Family safety post is dedicated to all parents, relatives and friends, to help them figure out how to keep their home computers and devices safe from viruses and digital threats. This will ensure their information is kept protected and their privacy is protected.
Do you know that there is 90% chance that you already have dozen of Spyware on your home computer right now that you don't know about. Check for those behaviors:
- Your computer is running slower than usual.
- You get high internet bill or you reach your internet monthly limit more quickly.
- Sometimes you find your computer behaving in a strange way, or you got many popups or advertisements filling your screen.
- Your friends tell you that they are receiving emails from you that you didn't send (this happens a lot, so always check your personal email outbox)
- Popups asking you to scan your computer for viruses and you click yes.
- Big advertisement windows, and you clicked NO THANKS instead of closing the window using the X mark.
Sometimes, a simple virus can steal all your passwords or credit card information without you noticing that, so pay attention! I will try to give you some quick tips to help you here, but you may need to leave some old internet habits. In this blog post, we will go through some quick steps to help ensure family safety state.
1. Nothing on the Internet is for free
If something on the internet is for free, most likely it is a virus. This includes most of the time free software, cracked software, free music or videos. Do not let your friend come to your house with his tools, and offers you to install free antivirus, free software and games. 99% you will get infection. If you find a piece of software cracked or available for free, then the only reason for that is to infect you with viruses.
2. Install Antivirus software
DO NOT USE FREE Antivirus product except the one the comes with Windows [Windows defender]. I recommend purchasing a license copy of Symantec Norton Antivirus (costs 40$ for one year license). Make sure you keep your Antivirus up to date always.
Also do not be tricked if a website offers you to clean your PC from viruses for free. As i said, to protect your family, your kids and your financial data (credit cards and bank passwords), you need to invest some money on a good antivirus solution. I am sure your family safety comes first.
3. Do not open emails and attachments from person you don't know
If you received an email from person you do not know, then simply do not open the email. Sometimes, you will get emails telling you that you have won some money, or that someone needs some money to travel or go to hospital. Just ignore those emails.
Do not ever open attachments unless you know for sure the sender. Attachments are the biggest source of threats. Keep in mind that most of the advertisements on the internet are there to harm you, specially if your browsers opens a separate internet browser window (Popups).
4. Keep your Windows updated and patched all the time
Always make sure your machine is patched. This can be configured to happen automatically, so you don't worry about it. If you are a Windows user, just go to your Windows Control Panel, and search for Windows Update. From there you can either check for updates now, and also you can go to update settings and make sure your updates are installed automatically for you.
5. Turn on the Firewall
Firewall comes for free and built in (pre-installed for you) on your machine if you are a Windows user. Firewalls controls the traffic coming in and out from your machine. Make sure your firewall is turned on at all times. To check this, go to Control Panel >System Security>Windows Firewall, or just search for Windows Firewall from the Control Panel.
Do not listen to your friend telling you that disabling the firewall will make things faster or will make broken stuff work. Simply it is not true. Put family safety first.
6. Do not run as administrator
Most of the times, you will have all your family members running on your home PC using the same account. Well, there is a better way that I am using at my home PC.
What I will do is to keep the administrator account for my self and not use it in normal days. I also have created different users for each of my family members including me (non of them are member of the administrator group). Each one of us will log on using his own non administrator account. If some one wants to install a software, usually a popup will appear asking for administrator credentials and they will call me. I will then investigate that this software is not suspicious and then will enter the administrative credentials. By doing this, you won half of the battle.
7. Torrents and Peer to Peer applications are house of malware
We all love to use Torrent and Peer to Peer software to get the latest free movies and music. Well, nothing in the internet is free. Sometime, you will download a software from Torrent without cost, and it will work as expected on your machine, but it will contain a special type of Spyware on it. You will never notice the existence of Spyware on your machine, but they will silently monitor your PC activities, internet habits, payment information, and then either pop up advertisements on your machine, or send those information to a cracker to benefit from them. Even worse, your machine can become part of what is called (botnet) and run slower, consume more internet bandwidth, and send emails on your behalf. Remember, family safety matters more.
Final Advise: Behave online as you would in real life
Family safety is so sensitive and important thing that you should look at from now. There’s an old saying “Don’t go licking the floors of a hospital.” What it means is: “Use your common sense.” You have a natural sensor in your brain that tells you when something feels dicey or unsafe. Trust your gut. With the right software running and a willingness to step back when you feel uncertainty, you keep your PC and your life malware free.
Always backup your important information on your PC. In case you get hit by one of the bad malware, you can safely format the machine without loosing your data.
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