Category Archives: security

Online security basics: Clicking & downloading

Screenshot of Security Now video episodeNow our child is using computers and the web more and more, I’ve been thinking a lot about protecting children on the internet. There seems to be an endless list of things you should and shouldn’t do but I was struck by some simple advice in the latest Security Now episode (#507) that provides a lot of protection to start you off.

Regarding clicking links in emails, from 1:39:10 in the show Steve Gibson makes the distinction between mails that you’re expecting and mails that you’re not. In other words:

Don’t click links in emails that you weren’t expecting.

For example…

  • Probably safe: You register on a website and then get a confirmation email from them.
  • Probably safe: Your dad is looking to buy a motorbike and sends you a link to one on eBay.
  • Possible evil trap: An email from PayPal asks you to verify your details. To stay safe, you should go to PayPal’s site directly without clicking the email link.

Steve then goes on to mention another security expert, Brian Krebs, with this piece of advice:

Don’t download something you didn’t go looking for.

Super-sensible advice that actually works offline as well, for example in not signing up to financial offers and deals that you weren’t previously considering. Brian also has more basic rules for online safety that I recommend.

So there you go kids, follow these two rules and you’ll save yourself — and your nervous parents — a lot of trouble:

  1. Don’t click links in emails that you weren’t expecting.
  2. Don’t download something you didn’t go looking for.