This article is a general overview of security risks and resources to help you stay safe online.

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Threats

Viruses

A virus is a program or piece of code that is installed and runs on your computer without your knowledge. Viruses can also replicate themselves and are often designed so that they automatically spread to other computer users.

Worms

Worms are self-replicating viruses that don't alter files but reside in active memory and duplicate themselves. Worms frequently use parts of an operating system that are automatic and usually invisible to the user. It's common for worms to be noticed only when their uncontrolled replication consumes system resources, slowing or halting other applications and traffic.

Trojan Horses

A Trojan horse is a malicious piece of code that is contained inside seemingly harmless programs or data. Many Trojan horses are designed to damage data on your hard drive or send personal information to a hacker.

Spyware & Adware

Spyware is software installed on your computer without your knowledge that gathers information such as surfing habits for later retrieval by advertisers and/or other interested parties. It can record and send through the internet your keystrokes, history, passwords and other confidential and private information.

Adware is any software application in which advertising banners are displayed while the program is running. The authors of these applications include additional code that delivers the ads, which can be viewed through pop-up windows or through a bar that appears on a computer screen.

DDoS Outages

A DDoS outage results from a coordinated effort by one or more hackers to slow down or bring down a website or web service. This is accomplished by using computers to swarm the targeted website's server with requests until it becomes overloaded, which prevents legitimate users and traffic from gaining access to the site or service.

Remote Access Vulnerabilities

A computer that isn't configured to download the latest security updates and doesn't have a firewall, antivirus and anti-spyware software installed has a higher risk of being accessed remotely. Also, a wireless router that isn't protected with a password can be accessed without your authorization. Make sure that your wireless connection is secure by configuring your wireless router. For more information, call or visit the router manufacturer's website.

Identity Theft

Identity theft is when an impostor obtains your valuable information such as your Social Security number or driver's license number and uses the information as their own. The information can be used to receive credit, services, merchandise, etc.

Learn more   about identity theft.

Email Hoaxes

Hoaxes are false information usually distributed via email. Several known hoaxes direct the reader to delete critical system files off the computer by claiming these files are viruses. Others are fronts for identity theft scams or get-rich-quick schemes. For more information about hoaxes, read tips from the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team   .

Protection

Strong Usernames & Passwords

A strong username and password will help prevent intruders from accessing valuable information stored in your computer and online accounts.

Learn more   about creating a strong username and password.

Antivirus Software

If you have antivirus software on your computer, you should be able to find it in the Control Panel under Add/Remove Programs. Select the name of the antivirus software to bring up a control center for the product and see the date of the most recent update.

Security Suite

Security Suite is a set of award-winning antivirus, anti-spyware and firewall software available to Spectrum Internet customers at no additional charge.

Learn more   about Security Suite.

Protecting Personal Information

The following tips will help protect your personal information while online:

  • Don't give your personal information to online services, such as those providing free webmail, dating services or online games.
  • Before making online purchases, read and understand the website's privacy policy. Find out if the site shares data such as your name, address or credit card information with third-party companies.
  • Consider creating a separate email address for online purchases. That way, if the site shares your information with a third party, your primary email address won't be compromised. Learn more about email security.
  • Consider adjusting your web browser's cookie settings. Turning off cookies will help prevent websites from tracking your usage.

Acceptable Use

Acceptable Use Policy

An acceptable use policy (AUP) typically defines how you can use a particular service. You must agree to the company's AUP before using the service. View Spectrum's Acceptable Use Policy   .

Copyright Infringement

Copyright infringement is the unauthorized use of copyrighted material that violates the owner's exclusive rights to their own work.

Learn more   about copyright infringement.

Reporting Abuse

The most common types of internet abuse are spam, viruses, port scanning, hacking, threats and harassment and copyright infringement.

Learn more   about how to report internet abuse.

Browser Security

Unwanted Pop-Ups

Pop-up windows are advertisements that suddenly appear on your screen while you are connected to the internet. These are often linked to websites that are automatically programmed to launch new pop-up windows periodically. Pop-ups may also be caused by a program such as adware running in the background on your computer.

Cookies

A cookie is a data file stored on your computer by a website for user authentication, usage tracking and personalization.

By default, your web browser has cookie acceptance turned on. However, if you are concerned about privacy, you can elect to have cookies restricted or turned off. If you turn cookies completely off, some website features may not be available, or information may not be displayed properly. It is recommended that you turn off third-party cookies and accept first-party cookies from trusted websites.

You can find information on how to adjust your cookie preferences at the following websites:

Temporary Internet Files

The Temporary Internet Files folder, also known as the cache folder, stores website content for more efficient loading in the future.

Clearing the contents of the Temporary Internet Files folder on a regular basis removes corrupted content, releases system resources and frees up hard drive space. Most web browsers will also allow you to adjust the folder size to your particular preference.

Manage Temporary Internet Files folder

Choose your browser below for more information on how to manage your Temporary Internet Files folder:

Browser Security Features

Most modern web browsers have the following security features:

  • Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) allows you to send information to secure sites with safety and confidence.
  • Secure sites are equipped to prevent unauthorized people from seeing the data sent to and from those sites. When viewing a secure site, your browser displays a lock icon on the status or address bar.
  • Site Certificates verify a website's identity so you can feel secure that credit card numbers and other information you send over the internet go to the certificate owner and no one else.
  • Security Zones let you assign websites different security levels based on your level of confidence.
  • Security Alerts warn you before you visit, submit or download items with the potential of threatening your security.

For more information about browser security, read tips from the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team   .