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Internet Security Audit: Do-It-Yourself Guide

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by Sanjeev

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Jul 4, 2022

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Need for Internet Security

With the increase in our online presence, comes the need for internet security audit  as we become more vulnerable to online frauds. Just as we try and keep our homes safe by ensuring that security measures such as locks, alarms, gates and so on are in place to protect us from thieves and burglars, we must ensure that our online browsing, email communication, online financial transactions, social media interactions etc. are safe as well from online thieves and cheats.

Our online security is a function of two things:

1. The online or internet security measures that we have undertaken, and

2. Our online behaviour

Let us try and conduct a Do-it-ourselves audit of our internet security status:

Audit of the Internet Security Measures

1. Do you have an Antivirus installed on your device that you use to access internet?  You may be accessing internet or emails using different devices such as desktop, tablet or mobile phone. So, do you have ALL these devices protected with an antivirus? YES / NO

2. Do you regularly update the antivirus database installed on all the device(s)? YES / NO

3. Do you use licensed Software on your online device(s). Is your windows licensed? Are the office applications that you use licensed? YES / NO

4. Do you regularly update the installed software and applications on the device(s) YES / NO

5. Do you use safe browsing extensions in your web browser to warn you about dangerous websites? YES / NO

If the answer to any of the above questions is NO, then you could be in trouble – your online internet security can be compromised. One must under No circumstance be present online without ensuring that the above 5 points are complied with. Answer to all the above questions must be a YES

Why?

An antivirus installed on the online device is like a lock on your home. While it is possible that a lock can be picked by a seasoned burglar, a Good quality lock will be difficult to crack. Same is the case with an Antivirus software. If you use a good quality LICENSED Antivirus, it will be difficult for a scammer to infect your device with a malware or virus. Your internet security will not be easily compromised.

Anti Virus Software must be updated regularly for continued internet security

Antivirus softwares continuously keep udating their database of known viruses, malwares, trojans and what have you. They also keep updating the software to continue providing effective online security to you effeciently.

The antivirus software on your devices must be updated as soon as an update is available. This will ensure that you benefit from thses updates and your internet security is not breached.

Benefit of Licensed Software

Similarly a licensed software such as the operating system or office applications on your computer will go a long way in ensuring your internet security. There are two primary reasons for this.

1. The first reason is that you would be able to get regular updates from the software company. Many of these updates plug security loopholes that are discovered from time to time. A licensed software will ensure that all such security breaches that exist in the operating system or other software that you use are plugged.

2. If the software is not licensed you could never be sure about the authenticity or genuineness of the source. How can you be certain that the pirated software is not coming along with some virus or malware?

Need for safe browsing extension

Though most anti virus software these days prevent you from opening an unsafe website by giving you a warning, it is advisable to add Safe browsing extension in your web browser. An example of one such extension is the Norton Safe Browsing extension.

If the website that you intend opening is dangerous, it will give you a warning such as shown below

deceptive site ahead

After that it is upto you if you still want to go ahead and feel adventourous. And that brings us to evaluation of our online behaviour with respect to internet security.

Audit of Our Online Behaviour

1. Do you open emails from unknown senders? YES / NO

2. Do you click on the links in emails from unknown senders? YES / NO

3. Do you open attachments in emails sent by people not known to you even though you do not have an anti-virus installed on your system? YES / NO

Danger in opening emails from unknown senders

If your answer to question 1 above was NO, then you are relatively safe. I use the word “relatively” because you can still get infected with virus from emails sent by people known to you. The chance of your online security getting compromised however reuduces dramatically if you do not open emails sent by unknown senders.

Easier said than done

However in an era when most of our communication is online – email, chats, social media, sms etc; it is impractical to expect or not open emails from unknown senders. You would never know the importance of the email if you do not open it. It could be an email from the tax department, long lost friend, new prospective client – anyone that NEEDs to reach you.

Therefore, you may have to open emails from unknown senders if you use an email client that does not have a viewing pane as in Gmail, Yahoo etc

Gmail Pane

On the other hand, if you use Outlook, you can read the email without having to click it open as shown below

Mail Viewing Pane

You can open emails from unknown senders, but be careful of links and attachments

Our online behaviour becomes dangerous when we click links or open attachments in emails from unknown senders. This is far more dangerous when we do this without adequate safety of Anti Virus softwares.

So if the anser to question 2 and 3 above is YES, that can spell trouble. Especially if you also do not have an Antivirus installed on your device.

Our online security is in our own hands. We are the masters of our internet security and prevention is always better than cure.

Always browse with protection for own Online Security

It is important that you have the following on your computing and mobile devices:

1. A good anti-virus

2. Safe browsing extension in the browser

3. Licensed software

4. Conduct own internet security audit on a periodic basis to ensure that we do not fall prey to online frauds and phishing scams.

There are online predators that we must all be wary of and we must be on guard against them, always.

Last updated on July 15, 2022

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2 Comments

  1. Rajeev Garg

    Just the kind of article that I was looking for to share with my dad! Have sent him a link to this. Hope he takes action.

    Reply
    • Sanjeev

      Many thanks Rajeev for the thumbs up. And yes, I too hope that your Dad takes precaution while using online services and web browsing.

      Reply

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