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November 2, 2013 / Poooooooooonie

#7. Internet Security

A few weeks ago, I received an email that referenced some updates on my Twitter. I clicked on the link which directed me to Twitter… or so I thought it was. The page asked me to verify my username and password, and on a hunch, I looked up at the address bar where the URL would be shown. As expected, it wasn’t the actual Twitter website but rather an imitation of it with a modified URL.

What I’d went through has surely been experienced by many of you out there, and not necessarily in that form. People are coming up with increasingly clever ways to obtain personal information of users, in ways that so subtle that it has become exceedingly difficult to tell the real apart from the fake. My experience definitely serves as an example. With the Internet taking over to fulfil many of our needs, I firmly believe that internet security should be focused on; we should all be aware of at least the most basic ways to keep ourselves safe from those out there who are hoping to benefit from hacking of our information. Sadly, I’m pretty sure that internet security isn’t the top priority for many at this stage; after all, how many times do we find ourselves ignoring that little window that keeps popping up to tell us to update our antivirus programs, etc? “I’ll do it later,” we say, but we never do get around to it and might come to regret it in the end if we unfortunately fall prey to hackers.

hackingHow can we ensure that we have internet security? Well, for one thing, we should make sure we at least know the ways in which we can be “attacked” online, such as understanding the differences between computer worms, viruses, trojan horses, phishing, and so on. When we understand such differences, we can apply the understanding to real life contexts, so as to be able to identify them in the occurrences where we are faced with them. Like in the example of that fake Twitter website I talked about earlier; I’d already knew that we could tell if a website was the real deal or an imitation by looking at the address bar to see if the URL was the same or if it had the ‘s’ at the end of http. From past experience as well, I also knew that Twitter always had the ‘s’ to show that it was a secure site. Thus with these little nuggets of wisdom, I was able to protect my personal information from being stolen.

Another way to ensure internet security is to actually install programs that can “defend” your computer, online accounts, as well as personal information from being illegally retrieved. Such programs have features like scanning any information retrieved to detect malicious program or software within, and can help to warn you off using or opening such dangerous programs beforehand. An example of a popular antivirus program is Norton Antivirus, which my family has always used as far as I can remember. As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. Installing that software will be worth the potential time you’ll spend and tears you’ll shed trying to “cure” your computer if you go without and end up being victim to a virus.

Finally, we can ensure internet security by not using pirated software. By always getting our programs from the original source through legitimate means, we are in effect guaranteed that those programs are “clean” and do no have malicious material in them. I know that this is a difficult habit to completely master since we are constantly looking to download instead of payment. However, we can at least try to imbue this to the best of our abilities. And if all else fails, I guess we could always look to the more “reputable” sources of illegal downloads like Piratebay.

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