Madame L is very happy to provide to her Dear Readers these Web safety tips, thanks to her Dear Husband, who learned them from a security training class required by his work.
1. Beware of QRC tags - those square bar-code things. Some of them can be stick-ons that lead you to - and open - malware.
2. If a strange pop-up appears, DON'T CLICK ON THE "X" in the upper right to close it. That could be a GIF designed to say "ok" to downloading malware. Instead, press Alt-F4 to close the pop-up.
3. Do NOT use Peer-to-peer (P2P) software for anything you need to download. By using one of the many P2P clients out there, you tacitly permit your own machine to store stuff for others to download. Studies have shown that the vast majority of P2P content moving through the internet are porn, illegal movies, and malware. Once you have installed that client, don't expect that you will ever again have control over what sits inside your computer.
4. NEVER click on a link in ANY message that appears to come from your bank, phone company, or PayPal, etc.. If you do financial transactions from your personal computer, MANUALLY type in the URL yourself.
5. A new attack method is called ClipJacking. Scammers try to trick Facebook users to click on the play button of a video. There are numerous cases where this turns out to be an agreement to monthly mobile phone charges or to download malware. The "play" button is actually a transparent GIF, and clicking it means you might as well stick a fork in your butt - because you're cooked.
6. You've probably already heard about the guy who "salted" a company parking lot with 10 USB devices? Eight of the 10 people who found them promptly went into their offices and plugged them into their desktop machines thinking they had just found a free USB device. GOTCHA.
7. "US Customs can confiscate ANY computer coming into the country and require you to provide passwords without probable cause, and arrest you if you fail to comply. They are not even required to provide you with a property receipt. If your laptop is fairly new, you may need to prove that you didn't buy it overseas, or pay a duty tax on it. Receipts or registration paperwork should do."
8. Malware has been remotely loaded on the Blackberry and other smartphones of unsuspecting travelers while they were overseas.