Here at Great Plains Communications, we spend a lot of time thinking about Internet security.  What’s the point of offering some of the fastest download speeds available in our towns, if no one feels safe getting online?  So we’ve outlined a few easy ways to make your time on the web safer.

  • Know your anti-virus software – Tech website CNET is a great resource for finding out if your anti-virus software is actually keeping your computer safe.  You’ll find full reviews of dozens of popular anti-virus software programs.  If you find out that your program isn’t giving you the protection that you would like, there are a lot of great options out there including SecureIT and Microsoft Security Essentials.
  • Be careful of new e-mail scams – While you probably already know not to open e-mail from someone you don’t know, there is a new e-mail threat that comes in a deceptively safe package.  Hackers are breaking into e-mail accounts and sending out dangerous links from those accounts.  If you see an e-mail from a friend without a subject line, be cautious.  If you open the e-mail and only see a link, erase the e-mail immediately.  You should also let your friend know that their account has been hacked as there is often no warning for the sender.   No one is immune from this one, nearly one-third of congressional e-mail addresses were hacked earlier this year.  If you have a e-mail account, find out how your account is protected here.
  • Change your passwords – If your computer does get infected, it’s important to make sure that you change your passwords after your computer is cleaned.  Most viruses are meant to do nothing more than wreak havoc with your computer, however some are “keystroke catchers” and they have ability to record your passwords and usernames as you type them in.  If you find that keeping track of new passwords is difficult, try the free 30-day trial of Password Genie, an ultra-secure site that will keep track of all of your passwords for you.  They will even auto-fill your usernames and passwords for you!
  • Verify website’s domains – Whenever you are entering information into a website, double check the URL (the website’s domain name).  There are people who buy domains that are almost identical to a real website, often with a commonly used typo, who then prompt users to enter in all sorts of data. It’s called typo-squatting and it’s on the rise.  Make sure that you are on the right site by checking the domain suffix; .com, .edu, .net, etc and making sure the name was typed in correctly.

While there are some pretty nasty bugs out there, for the most part, the internet is a safe place as long as you take a few simple pre-cautions.

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