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Security stories

5 Things to Remember Whenever You Open a Web Browser

To help you protect your content, your computer and even your precious online relationships, here are a few quick security precautions to keep in mind whenever you open a browser.

1. Turn on the spam filter inside your brain.

Most of us have learned to be suspicious of shady offers and attachments that arrive via e-mail. Those same scams are now all over the web. Be careful where you click, and apply your e-mail smarts to Twitter, Myspace, Facebook, and any other website or online application.

2. Real anti-virus or Internet security software will NEVER just appear on your computer.

If an “anti-virus” you didn’t install appears on your PC, it’s a scam. There is almost no exception to this rule. If anything other than your Internet security software tells you that infections have been detected on your PC, don’t believe it. F-Secure Online Scanner will detect and help you extract any malware including fake anti-virus or scareware. PLEASE, don’t pay for any software that installs itself on your computer. If you do make the mistake of passing on any banking information to a fake security program, contact your bank or credit-card company immediately.

3. Write down your passwords!
We’d all love to use the same simple passwords over and over. It’s just easier. But there’s a reason that every lock has a different key. To protect yourself, you have to pick complex passwords that can’t be guessed. And you need to use different passwords for different accounts. And you need to change your passwords on a regular basis. How can you keep track of them all? WRITE THEM DOWN and keep them in your wallet. Don’t write down the username or login, just the password. We’ll walk you through it, step-by-step here. If you aren’t comfortable writing your passwords down, you can also use an online password management tool like Password Safe or 1Password for Macs. Being smart about your passwords can be a pain, but still way better than getting hacked. But whatever you do, please don’t use “password” or “123456” as your password.

4. Patch and protect.

For years, Microsoft’s Windows software took most of the blame for the vulnerabilities that made cyberattacks possible. Nowadays, one of your applications is generally the culprit when the bad guys successfully break into your system. Security holes in applications are being discovered and fixed in all the time. To keep your system as safe as possible, make sure all of your programs have the most recent updates installed. Checking for updates on a regular basis can be an annoying task, but our free F-Secure Health Check makes it easy. Run it once a month for peace of mind.

5. Never publish your travel plans.
The reason the social networks are three times more popular than they were just a year ago is that we all love to share—maybe a little too much. On Facebook, you have control over who sees your updates. But unless you protect your Tweets, everything you post on Twitter is there to be read by the world. So why would you tell strangers you won’t be home? Wait until you’re back at home to post the pictures from your last trip. That way you know your PC and your other holiday goodies will be there waiting for you.