Cyber Safety Rules (Part I)

Our increasingly traffic-choked streets hold many dangers and keeping safe is a matter of taking what precautions you can, keeping alert for any hint of trouble, and obeying the rules of the road.

A similar situation exists on the information superhighway, with the added danger that there are far more people around who are actively going to try and ram you off the road, or spoil your day in some other way.

The dangers range from the possibility of damage to the files on your computer, which may be vital to you or your business, to the theft of information from you. This info may include, usernames and passwords, which will allow outsiders to access your computer networks or, heaven forbid, your bank account.

I was recently fortunate enough to be able to interview Annamart Nieman and Jacques Malan who specialise in cyber threat management and cyber forensics at professional services firm Deloitte, and who were kind enough to share their list of rules for survival in cyberspace.

The first tip is to use a variety of protective software products for your PC and not to rely on a suite of products from a single manufacturer, because that would mean there was a single point at which your protective screen could fail.

I use Norton AntiVirus, the ZoneAlarm Pro firewall and Spybot Search and Destroy and, even though my PC has been connected to the Internet via ADSL for nearly two years, I haven’t had a problem yet, touch wood!

The mention of protective software programmes implies that one needs to keep them up to date so that they can cope with new threats as they emerge. The process is very easy because the programs can be set to update themselves automatically and remind you when you need to pay your subscription.

The next vital thing to do is to ensure that your PC is physically secure and that passersby can’t casually sit down at your machine and do evil things while you’re away having lunch. These acts could range from sending out abusive e-mails which will seem to have come from you, to viewing porn sites and plundering your bank account.

This would also apply to keeping your PC secure at home so that visitors can’t access it easily. The teenagers next door may not be malicious but they could infect your machine with a major virus before you’ve even put the chops onto the braai outside.

More tips from Annamart and Jacques in Part II next week. Why not leave a comment by clicking the comment link below.

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