Staying Safe Online: A few things you can do

Let’s say you wanted to download a file, you bump into a site and find it, you click on the link to the file and you’re redirected to a file sharing site. Sometimes,even when you feel you have the best experience in these kinda situations,you pay less attention, and still fall for  some petty tricks.

Don’t you just hate it? When you see one big shiny green download button, and another button, then another equally conspicuous one at the bottom of the page, all fighting for your attention. That inner irritation when you’re forced to click all the ‘download’ links before you hit the correct one.

You can be lucky sometimes to know which is the correct one. Sometimes you get fooled and you click on an exe file you didn’t bargain for, and it gets installed on your device before you’re quick enough to stop it. Take heart, you’re not the only one. 🙂

Another scenario, I’ve noticed something on seemingly legitimate websites. An alarming red banner, saying,” Your computer has been infected with a virus, tap here to scan and remove the virus”. Things like this I can ignore and continue my foraging, but some curious ones will click the banner,and before you know, something is asking for permission to install on your device, or in PC’s, it is installing already.

This is not only limited to shady websites. Even the so-called reputable sites will want to add something, in addition to what you asked for. Take C|NET for example, you ask for a simple file and they insist you install the CNET downloader first.

Things like this are even more prevalent on social networks. Where you will be asked to “click here to see this crazy video of you” or “click here to see (so so celebrity) in birthday suit. Many, out of excitement and/or curiosity, will rush to click. Subsequently, if it’s Twitter you are asked to input your username and password, while if it’s Facebook, the thing asks to connect to your account and post on your behalf. Of course,anything for a naked picture of Nicki Minaj:lol:

Truth is, you don’t get to see any naked picture,rather, within the hour your account is used to spam your friends and follower timelines and inboxes with same links asking them to click and do the same thing you did. People might start unfollowing you, and you wonder why.

These things happen to people almost daily on the internet. How do we prevent this? If already a victim, how can it be mitigated?

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Table of Contents

Patronize only legal sources.

The first precaution I recommend is, avoid downloading illegally whenever you can. There are always official sites for these files, and a quick Google search will most likely point you to a legitimate source for your file. That way you’re assured whatever you’re getting is legit, free of intrusive tricks designed to outwit you.  Doing this also relieves you the stress of having to chose between multiple download buttons. The thing is, many of us, are just not willing to pay for official things.

Pay for your content.

Perhaps it is best to formulate the habit of paying for applications, content and services you get online. It drastically reduces the amount of advertisements and unwanted pop-ups you have to ignore. There is also the added benefit of paying to support these developers and online creators, motivating them to do more. Most good apps and services have a paid option, and free with ads option. It’s in your best interest to pay and enjoy it without ads.

Ignore shady external links.

Whenever you are on a social site such as Facebook or Twitter, you’ll see legitimate links to blogs and news sites, then, you’ll see links to sites with funny names.

How do you identify such links?

Often the social network itself may identify such a link as unsafe and advise you not to visit. It’s best to yield to this suggestion. If you navigate away from a social network to a site that asks for the password of the same social network you left, then it’s time to use your spider senses.  Let’s say you click on a link from Twitter, but the link says you must “sign in” with your Twitter credentials before you can view the content of that link, RUN!!!.

If you won’t run, then check the URL in the address bar whether it begins with Twitter.com/xxx or xxx.twitter.com. If it begins with something else apart from the two  examples above, RUN!!!.

Help prevent the spread of such links.

When you see an account has been compromised, be it yours or someone else’s, the best advise is to change password. This disables further access to the account. Whenever such a link to naked Nicki Minaj is seen, forgive the person’s curiosity and advise him/her to change their account password. Then person should also go to Account settings and disable any third party app access that may have caused the advert pops.

Ads is turning into the life blood of the internet these days, and almost all serious websites with traffic, display ads to earn revenue. Among these ads, there can be malicious links and software we should be alert to, and always avoid.

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3 comments

  1. Great Post.
    I Could Add, Whenever Possible, Access The Internet Through Your Untethered Mobile Phone.

    That Way..

    Sometimes You Get Fooledand You Click On An Exe File Youdidn’t Bargain For, And It Gets Installed On Your Device Before You’re Quick Enough To Stop It.

    ..Drive_By Installations..Will Mostly Be Avoided..

  2. “Patronize only legal sources. …avoid downloading illegally whenever you can.”

    My dear, you’re on your own oh.

    A torrent a day, keeps Ebola away.

  3. Another scenario, I’ve noticed something on seemingly legitimate websites. An alarming red banner, saying,” Your computer has been infected with a virus, tap here to scan and remove the virus”. Things like this I can ignore and continue my foraging, but some curious ones will click the banner,and before you know, something is asking for permission to install on your device, or in PC’s, it is installing already.

    This is a very old trick and has been around for over a decade now. I would say they are even less aggressive now because previously, such banner will make it impossible to click anything else on the screen until you respond it. Sure, there’s still people that will be deceived by this trick as they always use that virus infection trick most people are afraid of. It used to include lottery wins or some other awards.

    This is not only limited to shady websites. Even the so-called reputable sites will want to add something, in addition to what you asked for. Take C|NET for example, you ask for a simple file and they insist you install the CNET downloader first.

    CNET used to be a good place to get legitimate apps but they’ve so messed things up with the site that you will never be able to download the app you are looking for without something else. I’ve long given up on the site and whenever I need to download something and it points to the site, I simply look for alternative site or resign.

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