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Online Tips For the Holiday Season

[Thanks to Toronto Nerd Anthony Berot for the post]
Christmas is only a couple of weeks away, and you like so many others are too busy to visit the malls to find that special gift. Online shopping is an option but look out, just like there are shoplifters and pickpockets in the malls, they are very active online as well.
Online theft is a growing problem, and you must be aware of the dangers and some ways to protect your data and your identity from falling into the wrong hands. By data I’m referring to information that is both personal and business related. With a few tips and awareness you can operate on the web safely.
Starting at the desktop or laptop, you need to protect yourself from all those internet infections such as trojans, spyware, key loggers and any other code that is written to harvest your data for someone else\’s use. Your credit card numbers, phone numbers, email address book and your browsing habits are all money makers for these folks, so they will craft new and creative ways to push their code to you computers in the hope of getting valuable information from you and members of your contact list (anyone in your email address book).
Most of the free stuff available on the internet is not really free because they may contain these codes that will reside on your system. You will not notice them until there are so many bugs operating in the background that they begin to slow down the computer. Visiting pornographic sites (yes, this is a very popular activity), downloading music and movies, sharing you music and videos on P2P sites without proper protection is a dangerous practice. Even with antivirus software installed you may be in danger still because your antivirus program may not be aware of the up to the minute viruses or other dangers.
The best advice I can give is to be aware of the sites you visit, install and keep your antivirus program up to date and install other protections software like anti-spyware and firewalls. Some of the best software on the market includes protections from all the bad code that can compromise your computer.
Another trap comes in your email encouraging you to verify your banking information online, including your bank account number and online banking password. Usually, these arrive by email where you have to click a link that will take you to a site that looks just like your Bank’s. The only protection you have is knowing that your bank will never ask for this kind of information by email so call you bank before clicking on the link. Be suspicious of any email that is requesting personal information. Emails can be spoofed (ie: pretend to be from someone they are not), captured and rerouted to folks who want to steal from you.
Don’t keep credit card information on your computer or in an email. If you have to make an online purchase use a card with a very limited credit line. Paypal is a great service for sending money and for making online purchases. It is very secure.
Maintenance is very important in keeping your information safe. Do regular clean-ups to remove cookies and temp files, clear your browsing history, some spyware, viruses are designed to harvest this information to bombard you with relevant ads, or worse.
By the way, if you’re interested in joining a progressive team of IT professionals, you may contact us at 1-877-696-3737 or by going here: You may also email any questions or concerns you may have about anything in this or any other article. Your questions and the answers will be published in future columns.
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