Simple Tips for Searching and Surfing Safely on the Internet

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Summer 2014 — Security News and Advice


Searching and surfing the Internet seems innocent enough, but a few wrong clicks can get you in trouble. This is because cybercriminals use everything from fake websites, to dangerous links and malicious downloads to spread malware, and steal your personal information and money.

For example, you could be searching for a great deal on a new pair of shoes and you could land on a phony site that looks legitimate but is designed to capture your financial information. Or your Facebook friend sends you a link that leads you to a funny photo of a rising sports star. Should you click or close?

Somewhere in the back of your mind, you recall the advice: “Think before you click.” That so-called friend may be a cyberscammer and that link could take you to a site that could compromise your personal information or your computer.

Simply viewing a web page can return malicious code that steals your password and even your personal information, takes advantage of security holes in your computer, or takes over your computer. It can be expensive, embarrassing, and really tricky to get your computer—or your identity—back.

You also have to be especially careful when using your mobile devices. Since the screen size is smaller, it can be harder to detect signs that a website might be risky such as misspellings, poor grammar, and fuzzy images.

Fortunately, by following a few simple rules you can navigate the web safely, whether you are using your computer or your mobile device.

Here are a few tips to protect your devices and information:

  • Stay alert—Be suspicious when search results offer free content (videos, music, and ringtones), or too-good-to-be-true offers, since these are often used to trick you into clicking on dangerous links.
  • Think before you click—Be careful when clicking on links in emails and on social networking sites, especially if they are from people you don’t know.
  • Check, and re-check web addresses—Cybercriminals often use misspelled URLs as a tricky way lure people to a phony website. For example, if you are searching for Amazon.com and get a result for “Amazzon.cn”, this is a clue that it would be unsafe to click. This tip is even more important when using your mobile device since it’s easy to miss clues on a small screen.
  • Shortened links are also worthy of a second look—Cybercriminals like to hide behind shortened links so you cannot view the full web address to see if it appears legitimate or not. You might want to check these links before you click on them by using a shortened link preview tool, such as LongURL, which will reveal the full address.
  • Take the mystery out of the equation—Use McAfee® SiteAdvisor®, a personal online advisor that lets you search, click and download with confidence. For Android devices, you can use McAfee® Mobile Security to help protect you from risky sites, bad links and malicious QR codes.


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