Netiquette is short form for Network Etiquette. It can be defined as the set of rules for the correct and acceptable way of communicating on the Internet.
In this article, we will focus specifically on the netiquette to be followed to ensure cyber-security.
#1. Using Antivirus alone just isn’t enough
There is a firm belief among most experts that you should not browse the internet without having an antivirus program installed on your computer system. There is no doubt that this is a good practice, but there is a real need to rethink this commonly accepted belief.
According to a Webroot report, 97% of malware is unique to a specific endpoint, rendering signature-based security virtually useless. Antivirus mainly depends on a virus signature database to tackle cyber threats, which makes it basically useless.
Your best weapon in this case is anti-malware protection.
It uses advanced techniques like Behavior Blocking and Intrusion Prevention to detect unknown malware. Read more about the differences between antivirus and anti-malware to decide the need and importance for yourself.
#2. Post Sensibly and Responsibly
Anything you post on the internet is permanent. It cannot be undone or removed in most cases. So, avoid drunk posts at any cost.
Several copies of a single piece of content are made automatically within minutes. This includes an index copy with search engines, website cache, downloads of a file by some person or even a screenshot taken in case it was capturing text or images.
So, avoid publishing any sensitive information or private content even if it’s just for fun as it may lead to embarrassment later. Transmitting confidential data in plain text over email or chat messenger can also lead to hacking attempts.
#3. Dealing with Emails from Unknown Senders
Do not trust emails from strangers. No matter how genuine they appear to be, avoid clicking on links inside an email and never download an attachment from them.
However, hackers are still making use of Macros hidden in MS Office documents to spread malware.
#4. Shop only from SSL-Secured Websites
HTTPS is a protocol of secured communication over the internet. It can be implemented on e-commerce websites by installing a SSL certificate. This ensures that customer-entered information like credit card details and banking information are transferred securely.
Make sure that address bar of your web browser turns green while making transactions on any website.
This doesn’t ensure security from fraud as SSL just guarantees that the data communication over the servers is encrypted. However, the probability of getting scammed is reduced because the process of certification requires another layer of validation.
#5. Secure Password
This is repetitive advice given by most of the security advisors out there. The strange fact is that even though we understand the importance of having a strong and secure password, we still don’t use one.
The reason behind this is carelessness. One may argue that it is not possible to have a unique password for all the 58 online accounts they have signed up for.
Here is a solution for the problem.
You can make use of a Password Manager like LastPass. It is not just for storing passwords, but also for generating a unique and secure string for each service you register online. Moreover, it can automatically fill in the password in one click whenever it encounters a login form. This reduces the effort of typing and risk of getting the keyboard input strokes recorded by malware.
#6. Backup Important Files Frequently
Though you may have the best security system installed, there is still a chance that you may be hit by a disaster. This can be a system crash, hard disk failure, a ransomware attack which encrypts all your files, or a human error leading to the deletion of data.
To cope up with such situations, you must backup important data frequently. It should be done on a storage device not connected to your system.
It is proper netiquette to store backup data on a device independent from the system. This practice avoids the spread of malware to the backup device in case your main system is infected.
#7. Keep Software Up-to-Date
Cyber criminals are always in the hunt for a loophole in a hardware system or a software program. Once found, it can be exploited to inject malware into a user’s system. Security updates are released in order to patch these vulnerabilities.
So, you must keep all your software programs and operating systems up to date. This ensures that you are not victimized because of an outdated program code.
Most of these attacks are performed in a short span of time when a developer is oblivious to the situation. It is known as a Zero-Day attack. Damage is done even before the security patch is released. It means relying on updates is also not enough. You can opt for Anti-malware software like MalwareFox, which provides protection against Zero Day attacks.
#8. Free doesn’t always mean Safe
A general belief is that “if I am not paying for it, my money is safe”.
However, that’s not always true. Free software programs you are downloading can have hidden security risks. It can be in form of bundled malware or an unwanted program.
Free software programs are popular and have large user bases. But they create a sweet spot for hackers to target. Freeware developers (if not legit) can join forces with a malware developer to infect computers at a massive scale.
To avoid this, double check free software by using Google, especially if it’s not a well-known one, like WinRAR. Free software should be filtered on the basis of reviews found on the Internet.
These rules of Netiquette are a great guideline for online communication. If followed, they can ensure your safety online and ease some of the stress that technology provides.