As it has quickly evolved, the Internet has filled with viruses, malware, hackers, fraud and predators. Keeping safe on the Internet is more important now than it has ever been before. If you have an Internet connection, you simply must learn how to be safe on the Internet in order to avoid getting personal and financial data taken from you. This Internet safety article presents three tips for Internet safety.
1. Install Firefox with NoScript
Firefox, a leading web browser developed by Mozilla, is often touted as being the safest on the Web. However, no matter how safe a browser is, it can't stop you from stumbling upon a site and getting malicious software installed on your computer. However, keeping safe on the Internet is now easier with Firefox with the NoScript Add-on.
HTML, the basic language with which websites are written, is harmless. Websites can only be dangerous if they have some kind of script running on them. These scripts are used to make websites more interactive through the use of sounds, videos, special forms, and animated menus, but are also the same scripts that are used to get nasty viruses and spyware on your computer.
NoScript is a free add-on that works by simply blocking any and all scripts from every website, making the Web virtually harmless. Although you would think this would be impractical, what makes installing NoScript one of the best tips for Internet safety is that you can easily allow scripts to run on trusted websites by clicking the NoScript button on the bottom. NoScript remembers your settings for future browsing sessions.
So, I highly recommend downloading Firefox and adding the NoScript add-on immediately. It's incredibly easy to use and actually prevents viruses from getting onto your computer in the first place.
2. Install McAfee SiteAdvisor
If you find yourself questioning whether a site is trustworthy or not, take one of the best tips for Internet safety I can give you: get McAfee SiteAdvisor. You do not have to use McAfee security products to use this free safe Internet software, which can be installed from www.siteadvisor.com for Internet Explorer or Firefox.
SiteAdvisor works by placing a small bar in the corner of your browser that turns green for safe websites, yellow for cautionary websites, and red for untrusted websites. McAfee bases these ratings on constant tests for fraud, scams, malware, and suspicious activity on websites throughout the Internet. Really, McAfee SiteAdvisor just makes keeping safe on the Internet easier.
As a side note, websites rated yellow/caution are sometimes done so based on advertisers on the site. Therefore, not all yellow websites are necessarily harmful in any way, and SiteAdvisor should definitely not be your last resort in determining if a website is safe to browse.
3. Download a preconfigured HOSTS file
Did you know that your computer actually has an address book for websites? If you have Windows, It's called the HOSTS file and is located in C:/System/System32/drivers/etc. In all likelihood, your HOSTS file is still probably the sample file that was shipped with your computer. However, editing this file is one of the best tips for Internet safety available.
You see, HOSTS can be used as a blocklist for websites. When you try to visit one of these blocked websites, the HOSTS file will tell the browser "No!", and the browser will then tell you that it could not establish a connection to the malicious website. Pretty cool, huh?
Thankfully, using the HOSTS file for keeping safe on the Internet doesn't require you to find a bunch of unsafe websites. Just follow these steps to block thousands of unsafe sites:
- Go to C:/System/System32/drivers/etc and rename hosts to hosts.bak
- Download this hosts file and save it to C:/System/System32/drivers/etc as "hosts", without the quotes.
From then on, all of the harmful websites listed in the HOSTS file will be inaccessible, preventing you from accidentally loading any of them. This easy-to-use, but typically ignored, safety guide is one of the best tips for Internet safety available, so take advantage of it!
If you have browsing issues after using this hosts file, feel free to delete it and rename hosts.bak to hosts.
With the three tips outlined in this Internet safety article, how to be safe on the Internet should be much easier. Although you shouldn't become reckless with your browsing habits, the odds of you stumbling upon malicious websites with these tips for Internet safety is much, much lower. Happy surfing!