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Things Not to Do Online to Protect Your MacBook

One powerful weapon that you can use to make sure that your MacBook stays safe from unlawful intrusion is this: Practicing common sense on the Internet is just as important as adding a firewall and an antivirus application to your laptop.

With this in mind, here’s a checklist of things that you should never do while you’re online:

  • Never download a file from a site you don’t trust. And make sure that your antivirus software is configured to check downloaded files before you open them.

  • Never open an e-mail attachment until it has been checked. Don’t give in to temptation, even if the person who sent the message is someone you trust. (Many of today’s macro viruses actually replicate themselves by sending copies to the addresses found through the victim’s e-mail program. Of course, this problem crops up regularly in the Windows world, but it has been known to happen in the Macintosh community.)

  • Never enter any personal information in an e-mail message unless you know the recipient. In fact, even e-mail can be intercepted by a determined hacker, so if you’re sending something truly important like personal data, use an encryption application, such as PGP Personal Desktop.

  • Never enter any personal information on a web site provided as a link in an e-mail message. Don’t fall prey to phishing expeditions. Some of these e-mail-message/website combinations look authentic enough to fool anyone!

    No reputable online company or store will demand or solicit your personal information through e-mail or through a linked website. In fact, feel free to contact the company through its real website and report the phishing attempt!

  • Never include any personal information in an Internet newsgroup post. (In case you’re not familiar with the term, newsgroups are public Internet message bases, often called Usenet groups. Some ISPs offer a selection of newsgroups that you can access.) Newsgroup posts can be viewed by anyone, so there’s no such thing as privacy in a newsgroup.

  • Never buy from an online store that doesn’t offer a secure, encrypted connection when you’re prompted for your personal information and credit card number. If you’re using Apple’s Safari browser, the padlock icon appears next to the site name in the title bar. When the padlock icon appears in the title bar, the connection is encrypted and secure. You’ll also note that the web address begins with https: rather than http:.

  • Never divulge personal information to others over an iChat connection.

  • Never use the same password for all your electronic business. Use different passwords that include both letters and numbers, change them often, and never divulge them to anyone else.

  • Never give anyone else administrative access to your web server.

  • Never allow any type of remote access (such as sharing screens) to your MacBook or your network without testing that access first. It’s very important to restrict remote access to visitors whom you trust.

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