Tip & How-To about Computers & Internet
You've been warned that the Internet is something of a security minefield--that it's easy to get in trouble. You can do everything you can think of to protect yourself and still be taken by a malware infection, a phishing scam, or an invasion of on¬¬line privacy. We'd like to provide a little help. Here are some of the hazards you may encounter, how dangerous they are, and what you can do to stay out of harm's way.
Threat 1 : Malicious Flash files that can infect your PC
The Place: Websites that use Flash
Adobe's Flash graphics software has become a big malware target in recent years, forcing the company to push out frequent security patches. But another danger you might not know about is associated with Flash cookies. Flash cookies are small bits of data that their creators can use to save Flash-related settings, among other things. But like regular cookies, Flash cookies can track the sites you visit, too. Worse still, when you delete your browser's cookies, Flash cookies get left behind.
If You Have to Go There: To help protect against Flash-based attacks, make sure you keep your Flash browser plug-ins up-to-date. And you can configure the Flash plug-in to ask you before it downloads any Flash cookies.
Threat 2: Shortened links that lead you to potentially harmful places
The Place: Twitter
Scammers love Twitter since it relies so much on URL shorteners, services that take long Internet addresses and replace them with something briefer.
And it's very simple to hide malware or scams behind shortened URLs. A shortened link that supposedly points to the latest Internet trend-du-jour may be a Trojan horse in disguise.
If You Have to Go There: Simply don't click links. Of course, that takes some of the fun out of Twitter. The other option is to use a Twitter client app. TweetDeck and Tweetie for Mac have preview features that let you see the full URL before you go to the site in question.
Some link-shortening services, such as Bit.ly, attempt to filter out malicious links, but it seems to be a manual process, not an automatic one. TinyURL has a preview service you can turn on.
Threat 3 :E-mail scams or attachments that get you to install malware or give up personal info
The Place: Your e-mail inbox
Although phishing and infected e-mail attachments are nothing new, the lures that cybercrooks use are constantly evolving, and in some cases they're becoming more difficult to distinguish from legitimate messages. My junk mailbox has a phishing e-mail that looks like a legitimate order confirmation from Amazon. The only hint that something's amiss is the sender's e-mail address.
If You Have to Go There: Don't trust anything in your inbox. Instead of clicking on links in a retailer's e-mail, go directly to the retailer's site.
Threat 4: Malware hiding in video, music, or software downloads
The Place: Torrent sites
Torrent sites (such as BitTorrent) are often used for sharing pirated music, videos, or software, and are a trove of malware. No one vets the download files--they may be malware in disguise.
Ben Edelman, privacy researcher and assistant professor at Harvard Business School, thinks torrent sites are the most dangerous places to visit, since they don't have a business model or reputation to defend (by comparison, many porn sites rely on being deemed trustworthy). "The [torrent] customers, they really don't want to pay," he says.
If You Have to Go There: It's probably best to avoid torrent sites entirely, given their untrustworthy content, but if you must visit, use a secondary PC to protect your main system. Use antivirus software, and keep it up¬¬dated. Scan downloaded files and wait a couple of days be¬¬fore opening them. Brand-new malware can be tricky to catch, but the delay in opening may allow your antivirus software to get the necessary signatures.
Threat 5 : Malicious video files using flaws in player software to hijack PCs
The Place: Video download sites
Attackers have been known to exploit flaws in video players such as QuickTime Player and use them to attack PCs. The threats are often "malformed" video files that, like malicious PDFs, trigger bugs in the player software that let the attackers in to spy on you, plant other malware, and more.
If You Have to Go There:Keep your player software up-to-date. Apple and Microsoft periodically release patches for QuickTime and Windows Media Player, respectively. Avoid downloading videos at random. Stick to well-known video sites such as YouTube, or to download services like iTunes.If you want to get different format videos on your ipad , choose a clean and safe video converter like professional video to ipad converter software.
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