Yesterday PC World published an article on drug dealers hacking Gmail accounts and using them to send spam email. Unfortunately since they hack into actual accounts, the spam appears to be sent by the owners of the accounts. You may be asking how they get access to your email account. Well most of the time it is a malicious program or a phishing scheme that gets your log-in credentials. Here are some tips from Webtivity Designs to help keep you safe.
- Anti-virus Program: If you don’t have one, get one. If you can’t afford one, check out our Facebook post on 10 free anti-virus programs.
- Anti-virus Program Updates: Keep your program up-to-date. New threats are found everyday so you need to keep your virus definitions updated. Most programs have an automatic update feature. Turn it on and leave it on!
- Operating System Updates: Keep your operating system (Windows, MAC, etc.) updated. Updates are regularly available to patch operating system vulnerabilities to prevent malicious programs from gaining access. Turn on your automatic updates and let it keep your system updated.
- Browser Updates: Same as with operating systems, your browser must be updated to maximize your protection. Again setup automatic updates so your don’t have to worry about it.
- Strong Passwords: Using information that is readily available is what hackers want you to do. Using names, birthdays, addresses, etc. are the first passwords hackers try. Create a strong password. See the password tips that we posted previously.
- Phishing Protection: A phishing site is a site created to look like a legitimate company’s website, but its only purpose is to capture your log-in information. They often will send you a legitimate looking email with a link to their fake site. Make sure you are on a company’s real site before entering your password. To be sure, go to the site by entering in their URL instead of clicking on the link. Browsers and anti-virus programs usually have phishing site detection, but it really only protects you from phishing sites that have already been reported.
- Point & Peek Before You Click: Before you click on a link, point at it and look at the bottom left corner of your browser window. You will see the URL of the site to which you will be sent. Make sure that URL is where you expect to go. If you don’t recognize it, don’t click. Again go to the real site by typing in the real URL in the browser yourself.
- Common Sense: Use common sense. If an email contains an offer that is too good to true, it’s probably is a scam or phishing email.
The internet is a great resource. Just be safe when using it.