October is Cyber Safety Awareness Month in the USA; see StaySafeOnline.org’s Web for some details. This coincides with the first ever Global Online Safety Campaign which includes participation by an unprecedented coalition of government, industry and non-profit groups and is led in the US by the Dept of Homeland Security. What is all the fuss about?
Cyber malware and cyber crime have simply exploded and are advancing with new technologies even as they are being developed. The global community is realizing that it will take a concerted effort and shared responsibility to combat this ubiquitous and growing menace. “Stop! Think! Connect!” are the watchwords for this global awareness campaign which emphasizes the responsibility of all who connect to the Internet. Each of us has an obligation to keep ourselves safe and thereby facilitate the overall safety of our shared Internet World.
Countries all over the world are rolling out education and awareness campaigns to help prepare their residents for battle against cyber crime. Google “er du netsikker” to find out what Denmark is doing, for example. Want to read that Danish Website in English? Just use Google’s “translate” feature or if you use foreign Websites a lot, install the Chrome browser and use Google’s “translate” as a built in feature. By the way, the Danes suggest “Think, Block, Update”.
You’ve only to look at this month’s Microsoft Updates list to see the breadth of the problem. This month’s fixes include 10 for various Windows OS defects, 2 for Office applications, 1 for Media Player, 1 for Internet Explorer and 2 other technical ones. Cyber malware is being directed at all levels to exploit vulnerabilities wherever they’re found. You choose what you think is a safe browser and yet, it needs certain add-ons and plug-ins to make some useful features work (example: Flash Player for Internet Explorer allows you to view videos on youtube. Firefox requires a different version of Flash player). Each time you add a piece of software to you PC, you open a new avenue for malware infection.
So what can you do? Get educated first! Google “Internet Safety” and read some of the materials. Read Microsoft’s security suggestions; try StaySafeOnline.org. Keep your own PCs protected with anti-virus programs and firewalls. Keep all your software updated and especially keep your virus definitions up to date. Remove all programs that you don’t use any longer and don’t install stuff that you really don’t need. (Look through all your programs every few months and un-install those that you have no need for.)
Also, be careful about adding toolbars to your browsers; each one adds possible vulnerabilities and may also slow down your surfing. And stay away from illegal music sharing and pornographic sites.