Tech Notes: Staying Safe Online (Part 2 of 3)

Chad Droze Tech Notes header SAVE

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Read Part One of “Staying Safe Online” Here

Today I will be discussing things to look out for when surfing the web. As you remember, we discussed how to spot out “Phishing” emails in our last discussion. E-mail has been an easy target for many years, but the bad guys are also very prevalent on the web. Here are some things to keep a watchful eye on when surfing the web.

Always Keep an Eye on the URL

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Anyone can steal logos, color schemes, and other images to make a site look like the real thing. In any browser on any device, there is always the address bar usually at the top of the screen. If you suspect anything, check the URL to make sure it contains the real .COM address. In the Facebook example above, while the URL does contain the word FACEBOOK, the main address is really a bogus .CO (not .COM) address. It’s not necessarily that the site uses a .CO domain, but what’s sits before it is what really sticks out like a sore thumb.

Look for the https:// or Lock Symbol when Signing In

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When logging into most major websites, they use security encryption called HTTPS. Look for this in the address bar as well. Before you login, make sure you see this, or else be suspicious. And ask yourself – “How did I just get here?”. If you clicked in an email or a link from another site, then maybe you clicked on a bad link – there’s always that possibility. If you got to the website by clicking your favorites or saved bookmark, then you’re probably okay. The safest way to always get to the true website you are intending to visit is by typing in it’s web address (URL) into the address bar directly. URL’s are the equivalent of our Street Addresses.

Here’s a real life example. 121 Main Street is a different address than 112 Main Street, correct? Well google.com is different than goggle.com (TYPO!). Goggle.com may have been purchased by a scammer to catch those who type Google incorrectly. Don’t try going to the goggle.com to see I’m correct. My point is, be careful and mindful of incorrect addresses!

Watch for Ads that lurk on the edges of websites. They could lead you in a bad direction.

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At first glance, this may seem like your computer is telling you to update Adobe Flash, which is a legitimate program that your computer uses to display video and graphics on websites (Java is another). But definitely watch out for this one. This one is very prevalent out there on the web (especially when clicking through to links from Facebook). Note the use of ALL CAPS and the RED WARNINGS and the nicely colored GREEN DOWNLOAD FREE button. All an attempt to get you to click through and download this “fake” Flash program.

If this happens to you, you may have just gotten infected. Try to go back immediately. Click the X in the top corner. Leave – Go away – whatever it takes. If you must, shut down your device by pressing the power button. The longer you stay, the more infections you may be letting in. (NOTE: Stay tuned to part 3 of this series to find out how to remove an infection.) On this example, they clearly stole or made a very similar Adobe Flash logo. If you really want to update your Adobe Flash, then go to adobe.com directly in your address bar.

Facebook

Let’s talk about this for a moment since many of us now browse Facebook on a daily basis. For one, don’t fall for the “Facebook is going to start charging its users if you don’t do this……yadda yadda yadda” scam. Just ignore it. Facebook has never charged it’s users, and never will. Also, be careful about the “Free Stuff” or Coupons that you may see on Facebook and other social media sites. Now, companies to promote their products and services to Social Media and in many cases do offer free coupons to those who share or promote the product, but just use common sense. It’s always a good idea to use the “If it looks too good to be true, it probably isn’t” mentality when dealing with these things. Also, watch out for surveys and quizzes that you may see on Facebook. Again, there are legitimate ones out there, but if one of them wants to install “this or that” before you do it, you should probably just back away.

Clickbait

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This one is a relatively new term out there on the Internet. In fact, I just went to Google and asked “is Clickbait bad”. I read some sites out there but really couldn’t find a definitive answer. So, I put this one out there just to make you aware of how to spot it. To me, clickbait is like those sensationalized magazines that I would see at the checkout counter about “Man Gives Birth” or even the Enquirer Headline grabbing magazines. They can appear on legitimate websites but I’ve always noticed that each one tends to grab your attention the same way. For instance, it may say “6 Weird Diet Tricks that Doctors Won’t Tell You”. They just make me stop and think for a second. I’ve clicked on a few of them recently and while I did not get a virus, it just looked suspicious to me. I don’t really know yet what the true intent of these are, but perhaps they do have other motives.

In Part 3, we’ll talk about what to do in case you do fall prey to one of these tricks. Don’t worry, you’re not alone!

-Submitted by Chad Droze

www.compu-experts.com

www.twitter.com/c0mpuexperts

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