Make your Internet browsing more secure

On secure sites where you may be passing on sensitive information, such as banking and shopping websites, make sure you can see the ‘lock icon’ on the browser bar and also make sure the site address starts with ‘https’. The ‘s’ stands for secure rather than the usual standard ‘http’ which starts the address on most websites. For further protection double click on the lock icon to view if the site has a current security certificate and displays the vendor.

The ‘https’ and lock icon may not become apparent until you actually arrive on the page where payment is made. Also, always make sure you are using the latest version of you browser. This can be done by checking for updates under the help menu, or using Microsoft automatic update facility under the tools menu if you are running Windows Internet Explorer.

Wherever possible, always use tried and trusted sites, especially when performing transactions. Too often, people assume a site is trustworthy because it has a professional design or they supply goods or services you require at a competitive price. Internet fraud is always just a click away so think before you hand over your details. You may be tempted by a bargain, but may live to regret it later.

When dealing with online companies, check for a privacy policy, terms and conditions, address, telephone number, email, the more information the better. You may find this information in links at the bottom of the page, in a contact us, help or faq. page the company has. If you are not sure, you may even want to try phoning them to make sure they have a legitimate phone number they are using. This may also give you an indication of the quality of service they provide.

Beware of suspicious emails

spam pictureBeware of emails asking for sensitive information, even if they appear to come from legitimate services. Hackers, posing as banks and other organisations can often employ sophisticated tactics in order to entice unwary individuals into parting with information. These emails are often referred to as “phishing” in an attempt to hook unsuspecting individuals into handing over their money.

Legitimate companies will not ask you for your username and password directly through email correspondence. If you receive one of these emails, which appears to come from a recognised source, move it immediately to the junk folder.

Be especially careful clicking links within emails as they can often lead to introducing spyware or viruses onto your machine. If you’re not sure, stay away, and if you receive an offer within an email that sounds too good to be true, it most likely is.

Thunderbird and phishing

An excellent feature of Mozilla Thunderbird email application is the anti-scam device. If Thunderbird believes it has received a scam mail (phishing) - pretending to be a legitimate company it will highlight it. The choice is then yours whether you want to mark it as a scam mail or not.

For spam, Thunderbird automatically places them in the junk folder. You are then given the option of reinstating them by clicking the ‘not junk’ button on the menu. The junk filter can also be further customised to your needs.

Privacy in Firefox

Within Firefox you can delete your privacy data under the tools-> options-> privacy tab. You should always do this when using a computer in a public place as it prevents the next person from viewing your sensitive information.

Deleting Internet Explorer Browser History

As with Firefox, when using the Internet in a public place it is important to delete your browser history, cache, passwords etc. before you leave. You can find these under tools-> delete browsing history in the top right of Internet Explorer 7. The dialogue box should then appear which allows you to delete temporary internet files, cookies, history form data and passwords.