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Smart internet surfing

Surfing the web smartly can make computing much more pleasant.

The World Wide Web

The Internet is accessed daily via the internet by just about every body on the planet these days. I could not imagine not having it available and I am like most people, addicted, even if I don't want to admit it. I need it , I want it, it has become like a drug. However, I am in control and when I do use it, I use it smartly and responsibly. I have systems in place to protect my computer from viruses, and most importantly I have current back ups of my system to restore it if needed.

Just surfing the web and not caring about what you do can lead to trouble. It could be something minor like a nuisance pop up that appears, or a potentially unwanted program or PUP. There seems to be a never ending list of things that can happen simply by opening an internet browser. Everyday people forget the risks and just go surfing not caring about anything seemingly unaware of the danger lurking in the dark recesses es of the Internet. The next day there computer is slow and sluggish, but it wont get better with time it will just get worse.

Where to Start

So how to prevent this from happening. First one must see the Internet for what it its. The internet is comprised of millions and millions of computers, that are connected to millions and millions of servers, all these computers and servers have faceless people behind them looking at a flat representation of the internet. Seeing only the one page people forget how many unknown people are out there and that these people are in a sense the website we visit. Just as this website is my business PCMD's face on the web. Do people know who I am? Maybe? A Google search may tell them something about me where I live my phone number or in other any data they are so inclined to search for, but that doesn't change the fact that this site like any other site can take your personal computer down.

Advertisers

There are ads on this site and ads are a big problem with the internet. Companies take over a sites ads and present bogus ads to people. This site could also have a fake page created by a third party whom has modified a link on the page to redirect you to another site on their server. This is a bit different than a website that has updated information or changed a page name and would like you to go to the new page instead of the old. To help prevent these issues you could use an ad blocker. However, todays ad blockers are working with the advertisers and large websites, allowing them to decide what ad is acceptable to serve you.

Keyboard Shortcuts for Internet Browsers

To try and reduce information collected when browsing the internet use the built in privacy modes of modern browsers.

When the browser is open try these shortcuts.

Press and hold each button in order then release.
Chrome Incognito Mode -- Ctrl+Shift+N
Internet Explorer In Private Browsing -- Ctrl+Shift+P

These modes really don't hide you or prevent someone from knowing whom you are or where you have been, but the do help by not saving information on your PC. This eliminates a maintenance step because you would not need to clear your browser cache or history. Unless you take steps to conceal yourself someone such as your internet service provider knows exactly where you have been on the internet.

Online Security

The internet is just full of unknowns and it is constantly changing, so installing, and maintaining security software is must when using a Windows, or Android based hardware. Security software is often taken for granted and left alone until its to late. It really is important to monitor your program of choice. It must be kept up to date and able to complete scans regularly. Simply having an anti-virus is not a guarantee by any means they too are targets and can be quickly disabled. Many people swear they can use a PC for years with no anti virus software. This may be true, but when using a Windows based computer without using an anti-virus program they would be required to do their own detection and virus removal. The easier way is to use an anti-virus and take the time to keep it up to date. For more information read our article Windows Virus Help.

Internet Downloads

When it comes to downloading files on the internet it is important not to just download everything of interest and most importantly pay attention to the source of all downloads. When confirming the source of the download pay attention to the link information, and make sure the site providing the file has some form of connection to it. To put it simply if you want Apple's iTunes then download it from Apple's website. Some site are full of phony download links designed to get you to click on them. The website host does not care if you get the wrong product because they get paid for your mistake. Take time and pay close attention the the download link. There is no easy way to describe what the right link would look like there are so many variables that finding the correct link can be a crap shoot.

Website Stating Update Application to View

When you land on a web page and it states you need to update an application like adobes flash do not do it. If you feel you must update then go to the software manufacture site and see if an update is available. Then install the update from them. When using internet browsers like Google you no longer need to update Flash manually, it is automatic and simply included in the application. However at the time of writing Firefox uses it own version of Flash and it must be updated. The best way is to go to the manufactures site using Firefox not a different browser and install.

Hardware Firewalls

The first defense against the internet is your connection to it. Do not simply connect a computer directly to a modem. Many people do this and it is just an unerase risk. Even if you do not intend to connect wirelesses to you local area connection or LAN most wireless routers include firewalls. The use of wireless routers for the built firewall is an easy an affordable way to help secure a personal computer.

Clear your Internet Browser Cache

By now just about everyone has heard to clear their cache. Just to recap clearing caches importance I will quickly go over it. Internet browsers like Microsoft Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Apple's Safari, Opera, Google's Chrome and Mozilla Firefox all store data on your PC called cache. The first time you visit a page the data is cached as you return to that page new data is cached, overtime unnecessary data accumulates, which can cause longer load times, and this data can potentially harbor viruses or cause pages not to load. You can clear your browser from within your internet browser of choice. The steps for each internet browser is different however, it is usually located under Tools-Safety-Delete browsing history. Clear your internet cache regularly to keep you internet browsing experience running smoothly. This really helps with performance of your internet browsers. This should be done at least monthly or when you notice websites that are not loading properly or slower than normal.

Using Peer to Peer (P2P) Programs

There are many different peer to peer or P2P programs available. Peer to peer is the basic connection where many users share the file or data transfer load. A movie being shared can have many computers moving that file in pieces across the internet. This can greatly reduce file download or transfer times.

Peer to peer or P2P programs such as lime wire, bit torrent, and Morpheus may need to be configured to keep your computer secure. Some create a shared folder on your computer and anything inside this folder becomes available to others who use the program. Depending on the program and settings they can see, copy or even add files to your computer. Take some time and learn about the program you use and you could save yourself from accidentally making private files very public.

On October 2009 Morpheus's parent company files bankruptcy, and on October 2010 - Limewire was court ordered not to distribute the program. These programs were created for sharing files, movies and music, it was only a matter of time before legal action was taken. These programs like most things on the internet they are still available and it is our recommendation that not be used and uninstalled if found installed.

Peer to peer programs and the software acquired with them are popular with the spyware community. It is not uncommon to download a malicious payload with the program and thus installing spyware on your computer yourself. In pcmd's experience the more file sharing programs on a computer the more severe the virus, spyware, malware, and rouge program infestation. However, this is very dependent on the end user's behaviors while using such programs. If you like them, then use them, just remember there is a risk of viruses, and possible legal action depending on what is downloaded or shared.

Typo Squatting

Criminals hope you make mistakes or typos when going to popular websites. These websites seem to have relevant information and a variety of links. Do not assume the site is safe and do no click on any of the links. If the page wants to install any kind of update to a program do not do it. To close pop ups and open windows instead of selecting close or the red X try using Alt+F4 to close open program. This can help to reduce the change of installing something on your PC. If this happens than it is a good idea to immediately clear your internet browser cache.

Drive by Installers

Drive by installers exploit security holes in programs that access the internet. To protect yourself keep your operating system up to date, use virus, and malware protection programs to help against attacks. This also means keeping most if not all programs up to date. Even if a program does not access the internet it could still allow a malformed webpage on the internet to access it and attack your PC. Malware can detect unpatched internet browsers, programs, and all versions of Windows then quietly install. There are numerous different effects from this happening from nothing to all, to all out virus and malware infestation.