Safe Internet tips by Microsoft

By : |February 8, 2011 0

BANGALORE, INDIA: Hacking, identity theft, technology scams are a reality in today’s multifaceted ‘virtual’ world. But, like the real world, netizens hold the age old mentality ‘It won’t happen to me’. Well, the reality is that anyone using internet is open to socially engineered online security threats like spam, virus, worms, Trojans, Phishing, etc. As per the Symantec’s Internet Security Threat report 2010, India ranked #1in Asia and #3 in the world for originating the highest number of spams and phishing. India also ranked #2 for the origin of web-based attacks in the Asia region.

If you are not protected it will be easier for hackers to source your personal information, damage your PC with Malware or rob you off your hard earned savings. Here are some simple tips/ steps to give you a peaceful internet experience and save you from being a victim of the organized cyber crime.

Start now; start with the Safer Internet Day!

How to be ‘safe’ while surfing Internet?

1.       Know which website is safe. Malware attacks are rampant on the internet and can compromise your data, privacy, and identity while also damaging your computer and valuable personal data. By default, Internet Explorer versions 8 & 9 run SmartScreen Filter that protect your computer better by warning you when you attempt to view sites or download files that are potentially unsafe. If the SmartScreen Filter is active and you attempt to visit a website that isn’t considered safe, the address bar turns red and prompts you to take alternative actions. If it detects a malicious website, Internet Explorer will block the entire site. As per the latest web browser security report by NSS Lab, Internet Explorer is the industry leader in protecting users against malware. It has blocked over 1.2 billion malware and fishing attacks till date. With Internet Explorer 9 blocking an outstanding 99% and Internet Explorer 8 blocking 90 per cent of malware.

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Figure 1: IE warns you about phishing scams. For eg: the title bar includes the name of your bank, but the highlighted domain is not the bank’s URL.

Figure 2: What you see when SmartScreen blocks sites and downloads that have been reported as unsafe.

2.       Identify fake web addresses. To overcome phishing threats you should be very particular about the web addresses (URLs) that you are typing on the address bar to avoid deceptive and phishing sites into tricking you with misleading addresses. The Web address might look very similar to the address of a legitimate business, with a minor change. For example, instead of, the scammer might use The intent is to lure you into clicking onto their Web site and giving your personal information. Always check to see that you have typed the correct Web site address before conducting a transaction. With Internet Explorer versions 8 9 users are aided by the feature Domain Highlighting that lets you easily interpret web addresses (URLs) to help you avoid deceptive and phishing sites. It does this by highlighting the domain name in the address bar in black, with the remainder of the URL string in gray, making for easier identification of the sites true identity.

Identify fake Web addresses

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 Figure 3: IE highlights the domain in links you visit, so you know where you’re really going.


3.       Keep your Software Up-To-Date. The software you use and the Internet itself can impact the security of your online activities. It is advisable to use genuine & licensed software (operating system, application software, anti-virus and anti-spyware, etc). This would enable regular updates and enhance your PC’s performance. Windows users can use Microsoft Update to scan their computers and install any high-priority updates that are offered to them, and make sure their browser add-ons and other applications are current.

4.       Install & Update Anti-Virus Software. Your first level of defense against phishing scams and other malicious humans or software is to secure your computer. Always protect your computer by using up-to-date anti-virus software that is capable of scanning files and e-mail messages for viruses. Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) is a free download which provides real-time protection for your computer against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.MSE already provides over 30 million customers with trusted security for their PCs and has detected nearly 400 million threats over the past year with customers choosing to remove more than 366 million of those threats

5.       Browse more privately. When you’re using a public computer to check your email / bank account or for online payments, it’s a good idea to use InPrivate Browsing — a feature that helps prevent your browsing history, cookies, and other information from being saved on the computer.  If you’re using a public computer, InPrivate Browsing can prevent information about your online usage from being abused by third parties. An alarmingly growing phenomenon on the internet is tracking of keystrokes typed into the browser  you use, that allow for aggregation of a record of browsing habits, and personal information. The InPrivate Filtering option in Internet Explorer versions 8 & 9 enables users to gain greater control and choice over what is displayed.

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6.       Change your password regularly. It is a good idea to create strong passwords (made up of alphabets, numerals and special characters) and change them periodically at least every month. Moreover, do not choose ‘remember ID / password’ when logging in a website from someone else’s computer or a public place like school, college, cyber café or office. Even if you log out, next time a user goes to the same site; it’d automatically sign with your ID & password.

Tracking Protection for IE9. Tracking Protection in IE9 advances and demonstrates ‘Privacy by Design’ and provides consumers with more choices to control information about their online activities by putting people more in control of what data they share as they browse. It also gives consumers the option of preventing data from being observed externally by third-party sites. It helps filter out content in a page that you think may impact your privacy. Also, you can filter out content from any website by using Tracking Protection Lists.

7.       Protect yourself from emerging threats. Cross-site scripting attacks are one of the increasingly sophisticated methods online criminals use to get your personal information. Cross-site scripting attacks try to exploit vulnerabilities in the websites you use. In this attack, you might receive an email that contains a tampered website address. Once you click on the link, you are directed to a legitimate website that has been compromised to contain malicious content that can capture keystrokes and record your login and password. By default, Internet Explorer versions 8 & 9 help protect you against these attacks by detecting and disabling the harmful scripts with a built-in Cross Site Scripting (XSS) Filter that is always on.

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