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How secure are you when surfing the net?

01 Mar 10

One of the biggest challenges, however, is walking the fine line between giving your customers the freedom to engage openly on the internet and making them vulnerable to security risks.

There has been no shortage of news headlines regarding security breaches, and stories of those who have been victims of online identity theft. It’s an unfortunate reality that internet users need to exercise just as much vigilance against criminal activity online as in the real world.

With the proliferation of cyber criminals hacking into accounts, creating viruses and releasing malware to create havoc, it is essential that PC users are conscious of the security risks surrounding the use of personal details online. A Harris Poll in 2009 found that 91% of adults reported they are more worried about their identities online than they have been in previous years, and 84% of them believe that they or someone they know has been impacted by fraudulent online activity.

Many online scams involve users being manipulated into giving away personal details. These risks can be significantly reduced by keeping your customers’ software up to date – especially their browser and anti-virus software. Older browsers are often not equipped to handle some of the newer, more sophisticated threats, so it is crucial that
regular upgrades are applied to operating systems, browsers and anti-virus software.

Online security is a constantly evolving area. New challenges emerge every day, so it’s important that there are policies and processes in place which allow an organisation to respond rapidly and responsibly. One of the challenges for businesses is to ensure that their computers are secure without encroaching on useability. If browser settings are too restrictive, then users can experience limitations – particularly in which sites they can visit. Compatibility issues also arise, which can lead to users ignoring warnings and security messages because they are so frequent. On the other hand if the settings are too relaxed, users are vulnerable to the small, but motivated community determined to disrupt online use.

Finding the right balance between security and functionality is essential. Browsers on the market have various security features, but it is important to understand what security settings are most appropriate for your customers’ needs. For most home users, the default settings are suitable for browsing without restrictions, but you should advise your business clients on the security settings that allow for greatest useability based on calculated risks. Risks are evaluated by analysing safety scenarios and opportunities for exploitation.

Due to our growing dependence on the internet, security has naturally become a more prominent focus. It is a place where we conduct our banking, shopping and social networking. With so much personal information available online, it is crucial that browsers are secure and we have the right software in place to protect our privacy.

Cybercrime is continually evolving and becoming more sophisticated, so resellers should be consulting with your clients on business browser use, to ensure the risks are appropriately calculated. Home users should never ignore security warnings, and regularly update their browser.

We all want surfing the net to remain enjoyable, so keeping on top of PC use with regular software updates and consideration of browser security settings is an essential part of your role.