Security For Online Payment
Even if you connect to Internet in a local area network (LAN) via a proxy server with thick firewall and the latest antivirus, your computer will still be vulnerable to spyware. Spyware is installed without you realizing it and steals especially financial information from your computer. If you make payment online, there are a few things that you need to take note:

1) Never use a public computer (like the one at the Internet cafe) to do payment.

2) Use a genuine operating system so that you can keep it updated with the latest security patches.

Rogue software prompt
A deceiving prompt from rogue software

3) Have at least two anti-spyware programs installed. Update them with the latest definition file. After installation, perform full system scan using both of them one after another. You should at least use two because a spyware program that cannot be detected by one may be detected by another. Free anti-spyware programs are available, e.g. from Spyware Terminator ( Beware of rogue anti-spyware programs though because they are spyware programs themselves. If there is an icon in the system tray keeps asking you to install a certain anti-spyware program, then you know it is fake. Example of malicious file that keeps bugging you to install its software is "c:\ windows\ system32\ wcscqa.dll".

4) When going to the bank web site, always type the address you know on the address bar instead of clicking a link (for example in an email) to avoid going to a fake bank website. This cheating technique is called phishing.

5) Choose a bank that has a soft keyboard for password entry. A soft keyboard is a simulated keyboard displayed on the screen in which you type by clicking on it. This can prevent any keylogger from capturing the password. A keylogger is a spyware that records the things you type on the hard keyboard.

6) When you are at a payment page, take a quick look on the web address. It should start with "https" instead of just "http". The "https" is the acronym of Hypertext Transfer Protocol over Secure Socket Layer. It encrypts the information typed on the screen in so that the "interested parties" see some crazy numbers instead.

7) If you want to save your login or financial information in your computer, you should encrypt it. To encrypt a file is to protect it with a password. Most file compression, word processing and spreadsheet software are able to encrypt file.

8) Never use animated cursor. Normal cursor is identified with ".cur" extension while animated one is identified with ".ani" extension.

9) Do not use screensaver downloaded from unreliable sources.

10) Always log out when the transaction activity is over.

11) Install security plug-in, e.g. from Web Security Guard ( in your browser that can block a web page that may potentially plant a spyware in your computer.

12) If there is a warning "This site may harm your computer" in Google search result list for a website, do not click on it.

13) If an instant messenger is used, never click on the web address ended with ".info" that pops up in your friend's chat box. It is likely that your friend's messenger is affected by self-duplicating virus and that is an automated message not sent by your friend.

14) Never install programs downloaded from unofficial website. For example, to install a browser, get it from the browser's official website.
Posted: 2007-01-23; updated: 2013-12-18 by Ong Seng Aun.
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