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Better Safe than Sorry: The Dangers on Cyberspace

June 12, 2014 | By: John Paraiso       Tech Buzz
Better  Safe than Sorry:  The Dangers Lurking on the Web

Cyberspace as coined by William Gibson was a very dangerous place for cowboys who surfed its lethal maze to secure precious and priceless information.

Today, that holds truer for us as well as for cyber criminals out to harm the gullible, the unguarded, the unwary public who use the internet unprotected.

Now that almost everyone has a gadget with internet access, from a laptop, tablet computers, notebooks, portable media players, mobile phone, and at home--a desktop, there should always be vigilance with access to Cyberspace because it really is a jungle out there.

The jungle hides all kinds of monsters.  From a nasty virus like the infamous I Love You email attachment, malware that installs spyware to steal your private data and intellectual property,  to the worst kinds of people--drug dealers, child porn networks, human trafficking networks, sites unsuitable for children nor for anyone who is a decent human being, as welll as the most obvious and the most ingenious scams offering get-rich-quick schemes and false merchandise and non existent services.

Every time you enter social media portals on the Internet, like YouTube, Twitter, Facebook or a blog, you are laying yourself open to different problems.

Whether the possible dangers pose a threat to your equipment,  your private finances or even your private life.  The Naaaaasty is indeed part of the never ending story of internet dangers  just waiting to pounce on anyone unprepared for such predators.  That is why every time you turn on  your computer always be alert and vigilant.  You can save yourself a lot of trouble or even your life if you take the necessary precautions.  There is never enough redundancy good enough so keep yourself as shielded as possible so that any bypass of one failsafe will still encounter more fail-safes until you detect the problem and contact the proper authorities.

The Ghosts in the Machine are not Friendly

The first line of defense you put up will always be against malware.  Viruses, spyware, worm viruses, trojan horse viruses, keyloggers, hackers accessing you built-in windows 'spyware' and coding an instruction set to allow them access to your PC without you nor your antivirus protection detecting their nefarious activity.  All of these problems can be avoided on your computer by taking certain precautions.  Solutions that come for FREE too.  Or you can purchase some industry standard malware protection so that your data is as secure as it can be.

The first time you  used the Internet....not that long ago huh? suddenly encounter the danger of a “virus” in something mechanical like a computer.  A computer virus is a kind of a program that replicates itself.  Functioning like a real biological virus does, and as it replicates itself it has a programmed action to harm your precious data, either changing file names, erasing your hard drive, corrupting the data files themselves, back in the day and until now.   Other viruses present more scary dangers, like creating access to your computer from outside so that more harm can be performed by that person accessing your personal data, stealing passwords, account numbers, PIN numbers and even credit card numbers, WTF?!   If you get hit by a Naaaasty,  say bye-bye to your files, or worse your personal idenitity and your bank account.   You don\'t want your cherished private home video files to be stolen by some perv hacker and published on the web for all the world to see, Yikes!

If You Use the Internet, Wear Protection 

If you use Windows or any of its versions, you need a good anti-virus program installed as one layer of protection for your computer.  Prevention is better than reformatting and reinstalling, and lost data is lost data forever.   There are free anti-virus software like AVAST, AVG, and KASPERSKY available that are also the best at doing their job of protecting you from viruses.   Downloading files from the Internet brings all its own dangers.  Take caution by using trusted sites only for data and application updates, or ones that most people use without any reported problems.  Aside from anti-virus programs, one of the most powerful solutions against spyware is a firewall, in fact there are several FREE utilities like TinyWall and Zone Alarm which offer very good firewall protection against intrusions into your system.

Ever since BitTorrent enabled people the world over to share files from wherever, people have grabbed the opportunity to share information from media files to PDFs, to software, to scans of hardcopy documents, and this filesharing has brought its own set of problems from sites that include spyware in their downloaded media, to other malware traps.  Caution should be especially taken in choosing trusted download sites that forums recommend. 

To avoid all the problems of Windows-based viruses and malware, CHANGE YOUR OS to a LINUX distribution.  UBUNTU is one of the best and the most user friendly too, most current LINUX distros now have Windows emulators to RUN Wndows programs so you don\'t lose your favorite apps until you make the transition to UBUNTU completely.  Once you USE and EXPERIENCE UBUNTU, you never go back.  LINUX as an OS is more secure because in the UNIX OS, access to everything, from files, to applications, to disk drives is restricted, and can be configured in such a manner that even a UNIX root virus can be easily detected.

The BOGEYMAN also Lurks in Cyberspace

Robbers and thieves also prey on the unwary on the internet.  From something as simple as  false merchandise being offered for cheap (or stolen merchandise offered for a mark down), on legit trading forums or online marketplaces, to a setup where they rob you when you go to a meetup or \'eyeball\' with your cash to pick up the merchandise you thought was such a bargain.  A lot of bad people take advantage of the Internet’s anonymity.  From false identities, bogus addresses, bogus merchandies, all used to to lure the overeager and the gullible in buying from them.   Other sites or even strange email offer services and promises of “get rich quick” schemes if you send them money or your bank account number.

These  are the usual pyramid scams which guarantee earnings beyong your wildest dreams in exchange for selling merchandise.  Usually, these sites present  you alluring bundles of merchandise that promise to make you rich, but first you have to pay out a certain amount to get a “special kit” before they begin sending you a few checks.  There is also the offer of some “secret methods” that… well, before you will know the secret, you have to send them your credit card number.

For kids and young adults, be especially carefull at what they can access online, as anything conceivable can be shown online, and even in social media forums and portals, there are real predators out there, and more than enough movies have been made showing their modus operandi that staying safe is imperative.  Do not trust ANYONE on the web.  Even your close friend\'s account can get hacked and used to lure you into an unwanted trap.  Be smart always.  There are ways of unravelling strangers for who they are and being keen on how they talk to you will help you unmask their true motives.  Better yet, as Mom always tells you NEVER TALK TO STRANGERS on the Web.  DO NOT MEET UP with STRANGERS from the WEB unless you are pretty sure who that person is.  Eyeballs are NEVER romantic when you get raped or robbed or your home robbed when they're sure you've left for a bogus meeting.

Also ugly are cases of cyberbullying, cyber-harassment and cyberstalking.  Bullying other people on the Internet always happen in chat rooms and social networks.  Don’t even think that cyberbullying and cyber-harassment are just pranks played by kids on each other. The bad news is that people get killed by some bullies or those who are oppressed commit suicide because they were bullied and harassed on the Internet--more than one girl has already.

Be on Guard, knowing THERE IS a Bogeyman in Cyberspace

Avoid being a target by cyber predators.  You might love posting personal photos, and 'selfies' online to share with your friends and family, nothing wrong with that, but if you do, keep your account private and adjust security controls on ALL of your social media accounts so that any stranger will immediately stand out if they attempt any modus.

Never reveal private information with strangers on public forums.  Are you also discussing your relationship and intimate details with people  in an online forum?  Never “spill your beans” to everyone on the Internet, especially strangers.    

Be very careful with your password and if you can, change your password from time to time,  every month or so with a randomly generated one.   Never use your birthday or your children\'s names for your password.

In case of being bullied, ignore and better yet ban the offensive individual off your grid and inform the authorities. Tell your ISP provider to give you a different account. 

Investigate. Try to do research on the reputation of any marketplace website or merchandise or service provider you plan to access or register with. Don’t fall for any “get rich quick” scheme  Be extremely careful when placing account numbers from your credit card, debit card, your SSS or even your TIN on form input sites as people SELL such information on the web.  Also, avoid putting personal details on any social media site like your home address--you are almost telling the whole world, including cyber bogeymen, where you live.

Remember folks, cyberspace doesn’t need to be a treacherous jungle.  It is a miracle of a  place to access everything you need, provided that responsible  and caution be your number one priority.

Have a happy and safe surfing!


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