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Safe Web Browsing Practices

  • Don’t rely on your browser to protect you from malicious websites.

    • Browsers only warn you about sites but cannot stop you from going there. Even if you have high security settings and anti-virus software, visiting a risky web site can result in viruses, spyware or worse.

    • Do recognize warning signs from your web browser that you may have reached a website containing malware or security holes. These warning pages are created by Firefox and Chrome and will not ask you to download anti-virus software or ask you to run a scan.

    • Firefox:

    • Chrome:

  • Beware of windows or web pages that prompt you to click a link or button to run software or download updates.

    • Malicious web sites can create prompts that look like messages from your web browser or computer.

    • If you see a suspicious pop-up, go directly to the company’s web site for the software download.

  • Watch for fake URLs designed to trick you into thinking you are navigating to a legitimate website.

    • Look for shortened URLs. URL shortening services such as bit.ly, t.co, and tinyurl.com can be used to shorten long URLs for convenience and services with character limits (e.g. Twitter). Use a short URL checker such as http://checkshorturl.com/ to see the original URL.

    • Spotting an “@” symbol in a URL should be a warning sign. For example, www.uoregon@169.254.44.189 will not take you to www.uoregon.edu but the numerical URL after the @ symbol.

    • Basic spelling mistakes in the URL itself is a giveaway. Some URLs appear nearly identical to the name of a well-known company or institution, but there may be letters transposed or left out. An example might be “mircosoft.com” instead of “microsoft.com”.

    • Unusual domain name, such as seeing a “www.uoregon.co.uk” when you are expecting “www.uoregon.edu“. Phishers sometimes set up websites with similar looking URLs, but using different domains such as “.info” or using domains from other countries such as “.ru” and “.tk”.

  • When you use a search engine be very careful of the result you click on. Hackers use legitimate looking topics to trick you into clicking. Scrutinize the URL to ensure you are going to a legitimate web site.

    • Use a popular and trusted search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo. These companies attempt to filter search results that are suspected as containing malware. Do not use search engines you do not recognize.

  • Never trust free content.

    • Free movie, music and video downloads often include pirated content and just as often this content contains viruses and malware.

    • Don’t provide personal information to get something free online. Criminals may use this data to break into personal or work accounts.

    • When you see an offer for a free download from a company you don’t know, the best thing to do is not click on anything in that window. This is especially true of any pop-up window that says your computer has a virus. In Windows 7 and 8 you can also hold down the Alt key and press F4 to force-close it, or Command-Option-Esc in Mac OS, or just quit the browser and restart with a fresh window.