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The Top 5 Security Mistakes People Make when Browsing the Web

written by: Lee Clemmer•edited by: Bill Bunter•updated: 5/5/2010

The Web offers so much fun, so many services, and incredible connectivity, but there are risks that can be easy to forget about. Web safety becomes more important as we become more reliant on the web. Let's examine the top five mistakes you might make while web surfing.

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    Web Browsing Mistakes Keep Happening, Why?

    We use the Web more and more every day. New sites, new features on the sites we use daily, and more friends and family connect us with each other and the things we want and need. Whether you are an experienced Web user or not, you might make one of these mistakes. These mistakes have been around from the days of bulletin board systems and dial-up Internet access--they aren't new. Be careful when surfing the Web, and keep these mistakes in mind so that you won't make one.

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    5. They Sign Up For Scams

    It seems like there is truth to the old saying, "there's a sucker born every minute." If something sounds too good to be true, it almost always is. There are many sites on the net that look very professional, "real", and like they are legitimate businesses, but they aren't. The site may be a fake that is imitating a well known site, pretending to provide a new feature or a sale offer. Or it may be a completely new but bogus site with a get rich quick scheme. Don't fall prey to these scams.

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    4. They Give Out Personal Information

    The other day I was contacted by someone that wanted to be my friend. This person was not who they appeared to be. They began by asking a few questions that were innocuous, but I smelled trouble. As time went on, I realized that this person was not who they claimed to be. As I looked carefully, I realized that they were phishing for personal information. Don't give out personal information to anyone or any web site that you can't trust.

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    3. They Pick Easy Passwords

    It seems like every single web site now wants a password. This is a sound security practice, and we should understand why. We need to consider whether the site contains important, sensitive personal information such as our credit card information. Sometimes the information may be safe, but a hacker can leverage that information in unexpected ways. To counter the risks of your accounts being compromised, be sure to always protect them with strong passwords.

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    2. They Don't Keep Their Anti-Virus Program Updated

    You do keep your anti-virus software updated, don't you? Sometimes I find that people haven't kept their subscriptions up to date. As new viruses, worms, and trojans appear frequently, virus definitions are updated. If you don't have the recent updates, your anti-virus software may not detect the latest malware. Keep your anti-virus software updated. Just because you have anti-virus software installed that doesn't mean it's giving you the protection you need.

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    1. They Run Programs When They Don't Know What They Are

    A program took over a friend's system yesterday and began to wreak havoc. This malware infected her system and caused problems there, but something more sinister happened as well. The program posted to her Facebook account as her, and sent out a Facebook message to a list of friends. The message contained a video link. When people clicked the link, they were prompted to "Install Flash". If they had, they would have been infected as well. Even antivirus programs may not be what they seem. Don't run programs if you don't know what they are!

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    Don't Be On This List

    Anyone can make a mistake. I try to keep in mind the saying: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." People keep making these mistakes even though they are well-known. If you haven't made these mistakes, great. If you didn't know about them, now you do. Avoiding these mistakes may seem simple, but if you get too comfortable in your day-to-day use of the web you might make one. Stay off this list by staying alert while surfing the web.