Basics of Being Safer Online

Why?

I’m going to provide a short list of know how’s on how to use a computer for today. What do I mean by “for today”? Today there’s still people on the internet or using a computer who are missing out on some of the basics.

This is geared towards individuals who have very little experience or technical knowledge. If you were to describe yourself on the computer, you’d say “I know nothing about computers.” To me this means you are susceptible to attack. It means you are vulnerable. You are a target for the coming generations of hackers.

As we continue to move away from paper trails and companies with no brick and mortar, people who rarely use computers will start coming online for the first time. This is a simple attempt to prepare you.

Rule 1: No website can tell you what’s wrong with your computer.

If you ever end up on a page, or see an alert, that tells you something is drastically wrong with your computer, and the only way to fix it is by clicking to download something. Stop. It’s not real. The data that travels over the hyper text protocols is very limited, and it’s almost always one day: to you. This is how a browser works, it’s built to receive and display mark up. No website is going to fix your computer.

Rule 2: No, Microsoft/Google/Apple is not calling you.

You will get calls all the time from scammers along the lines of, “Hello, I am Gabe from Microsoft. We see you may have a virus…” - Look, just hang up. It’s not real. Ever.
Companies like Microsoft, Google, Apple, Adobe, you name it, they’re not going to call you to fix your problems. That costs them money. If you have a problem you have to surface it to them. Which leads to…

Rule 3: Everything costs something, nothing is free, not even free

There are some very limited exceptions to this, but here’s the deal: either you’re paying for a goods or service or you are the goods. Companies value your data. The data they collect on you helps generate revenue for them. Keep that in mind, especially when you’re asked for personal information.

Rule 4: If it’s too good to be true, it’s too good to be true.

Firstly, there is no substitute for having a good head on your shoulders. There’s no difference between when someone is trying to scam you on the street than via e-mail. You cannot make a $1,000 a day working from your home computer in an instant. There’s no one e-mailing you for help transferring their small fortune to the United States. It’s just not going to happen.

Rule 5: When installing something, always choose the advanced option

Most software you download is “free” (see rule #3), but they’ll often bundle it with malware or spyware to make money. When you install software always choose the “Advanced” option (it’s not advanced, I promise). You’ll have an opportunity to see what exactly it’s installing, where, and the option to UnCheck software you don’t want installed

Rule 6: Have at least three different passwords

Have at least three types of passwords: A password you use for your bank that is never re-used for anything else. A password for your day to day apps you don’t want to share (like Amazon, Skype, etc.) A password for your apps that you’re willing to share if needed (like Netflix). Also, be aware of what makes a good password vs a bad password.

Rule 7: If you’re not sure, just Google it.

If you’re not sure who’s emailing you, or if a website is legitimate, just Google search them. Within a few search results you’ll have a pretty good idea of who you’re dealing with. Can’t find anything good or bad on some company that is supposed to be reputable? Ignore them and move on.

Rule 8: Use a major provider for e-mail, like Google.

Chances are you’re doing this already, but GMail is pretty good at what it does. They have lots of built in features that prevent Spam, Phishing and other attacks.