Trine cybersecurity expert tells how to browse web safely

October 14, 2014

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, a good time to assess online security skills and adopt ways to safeguard personal information and online accounts.

The Department of Homeland Security created a cybersecurity awareness campaign – Stop. Think. Connect. The goal is to help Americans understand the risks that come with being online. 

The campaign encourages Internet users to:

  • Stop.  Before you use the Internet, take time to understand the risks and learn how to spot potential problems.
  • Think. Take a moment to be certain that path ahead is clear.  Watch for warning signs and consider how your actions online could impact your safety.
  • Connect. Enjoy the Internet with greater confidence, knowing you have taken the right step to safeguard yourself and your computer.

During this month, Trine University cybersecurity experts will provide a weekly column to offer pointers and information focused on cybersecurity.

This week, Bill Barge, director of Trine’s cybersecurity program, tells how to web browse safely.

Multiple layers of protection reduce risk when web browsing

Many companies  institute a strict browsing policy that restricts access to many sites. Users cannot access YouTube or social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter. This strict browsing policy only lets users visit trusted sites and keeps them – and the company’s network – safe.  Or does it?

According to the white paper, “The Top Five Myths of Safe Web Browsing,” published by Sophos, Ltd., a computer security company, every web site presents a risk. In fact, 80 percent of infected websites are legitimate, trusted sites. While blocking inappropriate sites is important, it is not an effective security measure on its own.

Despite the high rate of infected sites, users can employ a multi-layered web protection scheme to ensure the safety of personal information and the network. To establish the layers, users should:

  • Not visit inappropriate web sites;
  • Install malware detection/antivirus software and keep it up to date;
  • Only download trusted files from trusted sites;
  • Scan downloads for malware before opening;
  • Install a software-based firewall, there is one built into Windows that is typically on by default;
  • Set Windows to automatically download and install security updates;
  • Keep browser up to date with security updates.

During the years, many Mac users have said their Apple products cannot get viruses. That simply is not true.  Windows has traditionally been the target of attacks because Windows controlled more than 90 percent of the personal computer market. That market share is shifting as Apple’s iOS and OSX operating systems now account for more than 18 percent of all web client devices. As Macs have become more popular at home and in the workplace, they have been targeted more by hackers and malware. Users of Apple devices need to be just as vigilant in keeping device security current.

It’s also important to remember that even on the most trusted websites, malicious code can be loaded automatically by browser – and without the user’s knowledge – whenever one visits a page on the site. To maintain a positive web browsing experience, it is important for users to employ a multi-layered web protection scheme.

For more information about Trine University’s major in cybersecurity, call the Office of Admission at 260.665.4100 or contact professor Bill Barge at bargeb@trine.edu or 260.665.4298 or visit bit.ly/trinecyber.

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