Keep Your Personal Data Private When Using A Computer
If you have a computer connected permanently to the Internet and even if you have a temporary connection, do not use ICQ’s homepage option. If you use any form of instant messenger then be vigilant as you are particularly vulnerable to social engineering (especially if you are male).
For example, if you are a normal hot-blooded male and a female has been flirting with you for ages over ICQ, the offer of seeing her photo is very tempting. The trouble is that the photo file she sends contains a Trojans. And she is really a he, a big fat skinhead with tattoos and body piercings. Beware of reputed graphic files, which are named like myhouse.bmp.exe. They may be graphic files, but they are also programmes that could do just about anything (see next Don’t) whilst showing you the graphic.
Don’t use warez. It really isn’t worth the risk from viruses, Trojans and potentially malicious forms of Spyware. Trojans are easy to install into any piece of software. The Scammer just needs to join the Trojan file and the utility file together with a very small piece od code that enables both programs to run consecutively. The Trojan secretely installs itself before the main program is run. If the Scammer isn’t a programmer, there are utilities available on the Internet, which will join the two files together and insert the code for them.
Do keep an eye on your modem lights. If the OH light is on then the phone line is off the hook. Some scammer software will dial-out to a high-call-charge overseas number without letting on.
If the CD light is on then your computer is connected to another computer. if you are online and not doing anything then the RX (receive – also known as RD) and the TX (transmit – also known as TD) lights should not be doing anything more than give the occasional weak flash. If they are flashing frequently, then something is accessing your system. If you have an internal modem, you will not have these lights, but you can get software firewall Zone Alarm also shows all outgoing and incoming data flow whilst running in the system tray.
Do use a proxy server. If a password is the first line of defence then the proxy server is the second. Think of it as a stepping-stone (or relay) on the way to your ISP’s server. Using one makes it harder to be traced.
The information contained in your message headers will not show your ISP information, but that of the proxy. Whenever you visit any website, there is the potential of your ISP information being recorded by that website. By using a proxy, that information is not available. For the paranoid, it is possible to chain several proxies together (not easy) thus confusing the trail even further.
Do consider your cookies. There are small text files created by a lot of websites on your computer’s hard drive. They hold informationpertaining to that website, like your passwords, email address, how many visits you have made and other information.
If a Scammer gets into your system they can find out a lot about you by studying your cookies. It is a simple matter to go into your system’s Internet and switch cookie support off. Unfortunately some websites will not let you view them unless you accept a cookie from them. Cookies can also be of help as you don’t need to type in the same information each time you visit that website.
You may like to consider a utility that deletes all or listed cookies automatically at system start or shut down. Such utilities usually have other benefits as they can include options such as deleting surfing history, deleting favourites, deleting recent documents and/or hiding system options such as using dangerous programs such as regedit, adding/deleting programs, hiding printer settings and lots of other options.
Don’t leave a webcam or a microphone plugged in when it is not in use. If a hacker compromises your system then they can use a webcam or microphone to observe and eavestrop on you. They can take pictures and record what you are saying. It is another opportunity for blackmail.
Don’t say anything on the telephone that you wouldn’t feel comfortable saying in a loud voice in a crowded public place. You don’t know who could be listening. A Cyber Scammer? A bored phone engineer or Big Brother? Be particularly vigilant if you use an old fashioned style of analogue cordless handset. After the Scammer finds a few such lines, a scanner is programmed to monitor them and will jump to a channel if it finds any traffic. Get yourself a digital cordless.
Do store your data on a different hard drive or partition. If you download something nasty and it mucks up your hard drive, it will be far easier to fix all your data files are on a different drive.
Do back up drives regularly. Use a utility to copy a compressed drive image file onto another hard drive partition. Then put this image on a CDR/CDRW/ZIP drive or tape. Not only will this save your data, but also it saves all the customisations of your software, which can take an awful long time to restore. Virus and Trojan attacks are on the increase.
Don’t answer unsolicited telephone enquiries unless the caller’s motives are ready apparent. When in doubt, deny anything or tell lies: “Sorry, I got a luxury fitted kitchen/double glazing put in last week.” Consider getting an ex-directory number. The same goes for unsolicited mail. Beware of the letters that tells you to phone a number to claim a prize you have won in a contest you didn’t enter.11