The online world is one of two faces, the side where we find what we need, book holidays, save time with online services and generally enjoy ourselves. Then there is the darker side, where individuals and organisations are trying to infiltrate our lives without permission, steal our identities, money and generally destroy everything we worked hard for! So yes while we can say the Internet has given us many things, we must not discount the threats it has produced.

Being safe online these days is much harder than even 12 months ago, the methods deployed by criminals become more taxing and skilful by the day. The speed at which these new hacking techniques are being deployed far outstrips the speed at which patches are released for the software we are all using. Even the most respected browsers from Microsoft and Firefox fall foul to many a threat, despite their respective parent companies spending millions of dollars on development. It is therefore even more vital these days to be proactive in your attempts to thwart online criminals, relying on your free antivirus software alone is only going to lead to disaster these days!

Perhaps the most common, and most dangerous, system infiltrations involve key loggers and hidden P2P applications. A system compromised in this way will be working as a server, distributing pirate software or pornography to other users around the world. This takes place without your knowledge, and often with your anti-virus software still running! This is because the program has altered the way your Virus package works, so it reports it is working but really it is not. At the same time key loggers on your computer will record every thing you type, every login, every email, all your bank details will be recorded and sent back to the criminals.

Always ensure you are running with a software firewall on your computer, and preferably a hardware firewall on your modem or router too. These of course must both be setup correctly, if they are configured to allow all traffic then they are effectively not there!

Further you should ensure you are running a complete Anti-Malware package, this will cover virus, phishing, adware, key-loggers and Trojans at the same time, the better packages will include full firewall capabilities in the same package. Ensure you computer is fully patched, which these days requires you to be running with licensed software. Never use pirate copies of operating systems or Anti-Virus products, it may sound like obvious advice but it is amazing how many people trust their online security to the very people who do most of the hacking in the first place!

Finally install IP changing software with encryption technology so as to hide yourself online, as if they can’t find you they can’t attack you!

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