Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Security 'to-do' Lists for 2010

Internet users should be aware of e-mails that come from people that are not known, especially with the World Cup theme coming to the foreground, say security analysts Costin Raiu and Gordon Love.

With two weeks before the 2010 World Cup gets under way, Internet users can expect an increase in spam, phishing attacks, and other malicious online activities.

ITWeb spoke to two top security vendors on their do's and don'ts for using the Internet in coming weeks.

Gordon Love, regional director for Africa at Symantec, says users should unsubscribe from any legitimate mailings that are no longer relevant. “When signing up to receive mail, verify what other items are being opted into at the same time and deselect the items which you do not want to receive.”

Love adds that end-users should be selective about the Web sites that require e-mail addresses to be registered, and warns against publishing e-mail addresses on the Internet generally. “Consider alternate options, for example, use a separate address when signing up for mailing lists, get multiple addresses for multiple purposes, or look into disposable e-mail addresses.”

Costin Raiu, chief security expert at Kaspersky Lab, says: “Don't assume a Web site is safe because it is high profile or linked to a specific brand name.

“Use a different password for each Web site or service you use and make sure it consists of more than five characters, and contains numerals, special characters and upper- and lower-case letters,” says Raiu.

Love advises users to avoid clicking on suspicious links. “E-mail and instant messages can contain links to spoofed Web sites. We suggest typing Web addresses directly into the browser rather than replying on links in your messages.”

He warns against opening unknown e-mail attachments, as these could contain malicious code, which could infect the machine when opened.

Love also advises users not to reply to spam. “Typically, the sender's e-mail address is forged and replying may only result in more spam.” Raiu mirrors this thought, adding end-users should be aware of e-mails that come from people that are not known, especially with the World Cup theme coming to the foreground.

Love highlights that users should be aware about filling in forms in messages that ask for personal or financial information. “A reputable company is unlikely to ask for personal details via e-mail. When in doubt, contact the company in question via an independent, trusted mechanism, such as a verified telephone number.”

He also cautions against forwarding virus warnings that are received through e-mail, as these are usually hoaxes.
Both Love and Raiu highlight the importance of keeping operating systems up to date.

Raiu adds: “Knowing what you are going up against is half the battle won. The other half is following common sense and following some basic security principles.” He says to keep in mind that anything that looks too good to be true probably is.

“If something sets alarm bells ringing, pay attention to your Internet instincts. A healthy dose of scepticism will go a long way in helping to protect you against fraud and scams: a reputable security solution and up-to-date software should take care of everything else,” Raiu concludes.

IT Web

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