Our weekly roundup today features security.

This week -  Facebook app steals peoples privacy (again), industry heavyweights launch security awareness campaign.

This week Quintin also shares with us his top twelve “Be Safe on the Internet” rules.

Read for more…

Look. Facebook and their privacy policy snafus of the past year have done the online world a whole lot of good. End users are now more security conscious than ever.

Why? Because they have made the connection that security weaknesses threaten privacy.

Privacy matters because it sounds personal, security doesn’t because we have a “will never happen to me” attitude.

Everybody suspects that someone somewhere is watching, nobody expects to be robbed.

Now another rogue Facebook app is doing the rounds again. It is one of those now popular scams where you have to “like” it to view a video. This app then gains access to users profiles and information and presto! Your privacy is compromised!

Read about that story here at Iafrica.com

Business heavyweights plan security awareness campaign

Of course more business leaders are becoming aware that bad security means losses in time and financially, so now they want to launch a security awareness campaign.

You guys are only about twenty odd years late to the party.

Whatever, you can read about their plans here at The Tech Herald

Privacy Rules For the Uninitiated.

Right, here are some basic things that are almost guaranteed to improve your online privacy tenfold.

  1. DO NOT CLICK LINKS IN EMAIL
    If you do not know the sender, do not click the links in an e-mail. If you know the sender, err on the side of caution and rather not click links in a mail they sent you.
  2. SPAM MAIL FROM SERVICES YOU DON’T SUBSCRIBE TO
    Look, if you don’t have a Facebook account and suddenly you are getting “new friend request” emails, spam them. If you don’t have a twitter account, but you get a “Someone is following you on Twitter” email, spam it. These mails almost always look legit, but the links in them are to attack sites. This goes back to point numer one on this list: DO NOT CLICK LINKS IN EMAIL!!
  3. BANKS DO NOT LOSE YOUR LOGIN DETAILS
    Banks do not simply lose your banking details. They have your phone number, they know where you live. Why would they mail you to ask you to confirm or restore your online banking account details without confirming who you are if you can’t do ANYTHING else without presenting your ID? Think about it.
  4. CHECK THE LINKS!
    Okay, so you have a twitter account, and now you get a Twitter e-mail with a clicketty click link. Here is a common sense trick – hover over the link, or copy and paste it into a document. If the link does not END in twitter.com/ it is not legit. Often attack sites will have a link that looks something like this: http://twitter.com.dodgysite.randomstringofnumbersandcharacters.com/ Notice how there is a lot of “.” (dots) after twitter.com? That means that the site you are going to is probably not a real twitter site. Spam the mail. Ergo – delete it. This is true for all services.
  5. COMMON SENSE BROWSERS
    If your browser does not block pop-ups you should get one that does. Often malicious code is inserted in a legit site via a crack of some kind that pops a new browser window up, or under, your current one. Use a browser that knows how to deal with these.
  6. HEED SECURITY WARNINGS
    Often you will open a link to a site and the google warning red page will appear that warns you that a site might be a “hacking site.” Rather play it safe and do not go to the site. If it is a legitimate website that has been compromised you can be certain that the dude responsible for it is already working on fixing the problem. Give it a day and try again, but ALWAYS stop at the warning.
  7. TALK TO PEOPLE WHO KNOW, AND LISTEN
    If you listen to more knowledgeable users talking about security and privacy problems, engage them and ask advice. Then take note of the common things that they say people do that get them into trouble and DON’T DO THOSE THINGS!
  8. DO NOT INSTALL ANY PROGRAM FROM ANYWHERE ON THE INTERNET!
    Sure this sounds a bit harsh, but if you need a program and want to download it, have it vetted by someone who you trust and knows better. Do not download every screensaver you can get your hand on, and every little program you see that looks like a nice game to waste your time with. This is also true for attachments to e-mail that people send you. RULE – IF AN ATTACHMENT WANTS TO INSTALL SAY NO AND DELETE IT. Why would someone send you an installable file via email? Remember this mantra: Friends don’t send friends installables. Here is another rule of thumb, if a link or attachment or ANYTHING you click needs to ask your permission, like a Facebook application, be very careful before you continue. Do note that most viruses do not ask permission when you execute them, hence the NO EXECUTE rule. Better safe than sorry.
  9. IF YOU NEED HARDWARE DRIVERS TAKE YOUR PC TO A PRO
    We all need drivers from time to time. Get it from the vendors site who made your hardware, or take your hardware to a professional. I had it only yesterday that I tried to download a driver from a site only to notice the “download now” link was for another unrelated “driverdetective” program. I couldn’t find a driver from the vendor, but I was smart enough to check what was going to be downloaded before I installed it. Someone took my advice and brought me the machine, and he left a happy customer.
  10. IF IT IS NOT YOUR PC, DON’T DO YOUR INTERNET BANKING ON IT
    So you keep to some basic sane rules, but how do you know your friend/relative/internet café keep to some basic principles? I had my internet banking password stolen on a pc inside a bank once. If it is not yours, don’t use it. Rather go into the bank and use a real teller. Also good via Elzje – if it is not your pc, don’t let it save your passwords.
  11. CONSIDER ALL FLASHDRIVES UNSAFE
    If you have any doubt, do not insert a flashdrive in your computer. If you can afford the luxury keep a separate pc where you put flashdrives for scanning before moving them to yours, or if you work in a company let the IT guys scan it for you before you put it in your computer. A good antivirus should check a flashdrive for you when you insert it as well, see 12 below for how to manage your antivirus.
  12. FINALLY – KEEP YOUR ANTIVIRUS UP TO DATE, AND USE IT!!
    If your antivirus has not been updated in six months you can basically uninstall it. If you have not run an antivirus check on your computer you can definitely uninstall your antivirus program. That is like having a bike and never riding it. So have an Antivirus, Update it, AND USE IT!

Roundup Summary

90% of online privacy and security is common sense and reading. These twelve basic rules of thumb are easy to remember, and should be your guide to the internet.

If you click on something and a message pops up, read it, and if you have the tiniest inkling that something is not right decline permission and ask a knowledgeable friend.

Remember: “Read Twice, Think Thrice, Say NO”

BE SAFE!

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