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Tips for your online security
Tim Callan
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September 29, 2008

It pays to protect yourself from cyber attacks. Millions of people are doing their day-to-day banking, finances and shopping online. But as the general public becomes more Internet savvy, so do hackers.


In fact, according to a recent survey from Gartner Inc., in 2007, 3.6 million adults lost money in phishing (LINK) attacks (criminal attempts to acquire sensitive information such as user names, passwords and credit card details), as compared with 2.3 million the year before.


Do you want to be one of these millions when the figure comes out for 2008? Of course not. Here are some simple tips Indian Internet users should know for maintaining their online security:


1. Never enter personal information such as a PAN / credit card number, account login and password, or home address on an unsecured Web site.


2. Never open or download attachments you are not expecting from anyone you do not know.


3. Take advantage of authentication credentials such as tokens for sensitive accounts. If your provider does not offer credentials for these accounts, change your user name and password every three months.



4. Beware of e-mails from a familiar sender with an unfamiliar or suspicious e-mail address.


Visual safety cues to look for when interacting online include:


1. Look for the green address bar and the company's name highlighted in green at the top of the browser. This signifies that this site has undergone extensive identity authentication.


2. If the site's Web address begins with 'https://', any information you share is encrypted. Never enter personally identifiable information into any page that does not begin with 'https'.



3. All popular browsers feature a lock icon in the interface to indicate pages where encryption is in place. To be meaningful, this icon must appear in the actual browser interface and not inside the content of the page itself.


4. Look for trust mark icons. They include the VeriSign Secured Seal.


5. Be suspicious of any site with an unknown domain that contains the name of a well-known site in the latter part of the Web address.


Tim Callan is vice president of SSL product marketing VeriSign.

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