The top 10 elements of on-line security

John Matonis, president and CEO of Hush Communications in Dublin, Ireland, advises Web surfers educate themselves about the free security options available to them.

Among Matonis’ top 10:

Content filters. If you’ve got children, use content filters. The Web can be a resource for entertainment and learning, however it’s also easy to gain access to inappropriate sites.

– Secure your browser. Using Internet Explorer and Netscape Communicator, go to the Tools option on the navigation bar and choose the ‘Internet Options’ feature. From there you’ll be able to adjust security options.

– Cookies. Internet cookies are text documents that Web sites save onto the user’s hard disk so a visited site will remember you. Users can turn off cookies so sites cannot record personal information.

– Virus scanners. Virus scanners help prevent an unwanted program from infiltrating your PC. Surfing without one is akin to driving without wearing a seat belt.

– Don’t open attachments. Users who receive an e-mail message from someone they do not know or from an address they do not recognize should refrain from opening attachments. Reply to the message and inquire about the contents of the attachment.

– Create alias accounts. Users who enjoy chat rooms or who sign up for surveys and other information likely will receive spam and unwanted marketing information. By setting up an alternate chat or survey e-mail account, users can avoid filling up their primary address with junk mail.

– Never respond to spam. By responding, you provide spammers with the knowledge that you’re receiving and reading their junk mail. Users can complain to the postmaster or ISP of the address that sent the mail.

– Don’t reveal personal information. Users who transmit personal information on-line are leaving themselves open to Web thieves or other on-line pirates. When choosing to make an on-line purchase or sign up for a Web-based service, check out that site’s privacy policy. Use encryption whenever you transmit personal details.

– Firewalls. Firewalls can be implemented in both hardware and software and they can help prevent unauthorized access to or from a private network.

– Encryption. It is the most effective way to protect personal information. Users should look for encryption solutions that are easy to use, offer a high level of protection and allow them to view and review any vendor’s source code. Access to an encryption solution’s open-source code is important because it means the company that created the product is confident enough to allow other security experts to review it.