|Simply Safe on the Internet|
by Lewis, Agnes
Circe Denyer, owner of Easybytes Training and Technology ("where all learning experiences are as easy as milk and cookies"), gave us valuable advice about keeping our computers safe from malware on the Internet. She pointed out that malware is prevalent even in the most popular sites.
She suggested keeping two email addresses - one used only for friends and business contact, and the other only for online purchases and online searches. That way, the proliferation of spam can be kept under control and not get in the way of our main email. She said people should not even open any email messages that don't look right -- sent at the wrong time of day, or without a subject line, or just not as expected. Even opening the message, even if just in a preview pane, can cause malware to install itself on your computer.
Anti-virus software can deal with some malware. However, a computer that has been recently cleaned can download malware before the anti-virus software can deal with it, and perhaps create a back door for more malicious software to be installed.
Under no circumstances should you ever click a link sent to you in an email, even if from a friend, if you are not absolutely sure that the friend's email looks legitimate and has not been hacked. She shared with the group some advice on free malware-removing software. She also said that the safest email domains are the corporate ones, followed by AOL, then gmail, with Yahoo, and telecommunications providers bringing up the rear.
She does not necessarily consider "tracking cookies" harmful, and they can sometimes bring benefits to the user, in suggesting things of interest. A lively Q&A session followed. Ms. Denyer gave everyone her business card and offered to answer questions privately as well.
One of the services her company provides is to clean malware from computers, without losing the data. She pointed out that clients are sometimes given advice by big-box support companies, to erase everything and re-install software -- and often clients don't realize that they will lose their documents and their pictures.