You may have heard in the media this week about a new security flaw discovered that affects many versions of the Internet Explorer browser, allowing hackers to take control of your computer if malware is deployed. This means that clicking on a bad link or email or visiting an infected site with the Internet Explorer browser, could put your computer at risk.
On Thursday, May 1, Microsoft issued a patch to repair flaw. Effective immediately, Windows users will receive an automatic security update. If you do not use the automatic update functionality, be sure to visit Windows Updates on your computer to download this important patch.
We recommend that you refrain from accessing or entering confidential information via Internet Explorer until you have installed this update and run an anti-virus scan on your computer.
Here are a few more tips from onguardonline.com for keeping your computer safe from malware:
- Keep your security software updated. At a minimum, your computer should have anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and a firewall. Set your security software, internet browser, and operating system (like Windows or Mac OS) to update automatically.
- Instead of clicking on a link in an email, type the URL of the site you want directly into your browser. Criminals send emails that appear to be from companies you know and trust. The links may look legitimate, but clicking on them could download malware or send you to a spoof site designed to steal your personal information.
- Don’t open attachments in emails unless you know who sent it and what it is. Opening attachments — even in emails that seem to be from friends or family — can install malware on your computer.
- Download and install software only from websites you know and trust. Downloading free games, file-sharing programs, and customized toolbars may sound appealing, but free software can come with malware.
- Minimize “drive-by” downloads. Make sure your browser security setting is high enough to detect unauthorized downloads. For Internet Explorer, for example, use the “medium” setting at a minimum.
- Use a pop-up blocker and don’t click on any links within pop-ups. If you do, you may install malware on your computer. Close pop-up windows by clicking on the “X” in the title bar.
- Resist buying software in response to unexpected pop-up messages or emails, especially ads that claim to have scanned your computer and detected malware. That’s a tactic scammers use to spread malware.
- Talk about safe computing. Tell your kids that some online actions can put the computer at risk: clicking on pop-ups, downloading “free” games or programs, opening chain emails, or posting personal information.
- Back up your data regularly. Whether it’s text files or photos that are important to you, back up any data that you’d want to keep in case your computer crashes.