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Internet Security – 8 Proven Tactics to Eliminate Spam, Virus and Hacker Threats

Internet Security – 8 Proven Tactics to Eliminate Spam, Virus and Hacker Threats

As an online business owner, you face insidious internet security risks every time you go online. Viruses, hackers and spam await you at every turn. The reality is that these threats will always be a component of being online and doing business online. Unfortunately, they seem to be here to stay.

That being said, there are a number of precautions you can take to make yourself, your business, and your site visitors as safe as possible. Here are 8 proven tactics to improve your internet security:

1. Protection from viruses. Make sure you have the latest virus updates installed on your computer and let the software thoroughly scan your entire computer every day to make sure no viruses have successfully planted themselves on your hard drive. Set your virus checker to also scan your email when it’s downloaded.

I use AVG Free to scan my computer and email. They also have a paid version that provides full internet protection. McAfee and Norton also offer similar products.

For spyware and malware protection I use CounterSpy. The company that makes this software also has a new anti-virus and anti-spyware product called VIPRE.

2. Spam blocking. I have a spam blocking program that I use with Outlook called Cloudmark Desktop that does a great job of helping me train my email program to recognize spam. What I like about this program is that users of the program tell Cloudmark what kind of spam is arriving in their inboxes, and the developers update Cloudmark accordingly to recognize that kind of email. Other spam blocking programs include IHateSpam and MailWasher.

3. Web Hosting Spam Blocker. To block spam before it even reaches my Outlook inbox, one of my hosting accounts offers Postini spam blocking on my server. I pay a few dollars extra each month to add this service, but it’s worth it because it routinely blocks at least 100 emails a day that are spam. I always have the option to log into that account if I miss an email that might have gotten there by accident, and I can whitelist the sender so it goes through without a problem next time. Every night this service sends me a list of emails that are suspicious (ie the service isn’t sure if it’s spam), and I quickly scan them to approve any that are misidentified.

4. Spam the email address. One of the easiest ways to get your email address added to huge spam email address lists is by including a clear link to your email address on your website. Spam bots routinely patrol the Internet looking for easily accessible email addresses to collect online. Even if your link is “cloaked” by saying “click here to send an email”, which will show your email address in the visitor’s email program, a spambot can read the HTML source code and collect the email address.

Instead, remove your email address from all your websites. Use a contact form for them to send you emails that includes CAPTCHA technology (where the form completer must read a graphical representation of a word, set, or number to prove that he/she is not a spambot). I am using the free version of Freedback for this task.

5. Spam on the discussion list. If your email address needs to appear on discussion lists, blog posts, or forum posts, use a free email address such as those available on Gmail or Yahoo. This way you protect your “real” email address from being intercepted by spam bots.

6. General email address. If your web hosting company allows it, create a receive-all email address that is not specifically marked for a set POP email address or forwarding email you may have set up. When you sign up for someone’s free giveaway, for example, which will add you to their marketing list, you can then enter an email address that reminds you of the site or giveaway where you used it.

For example, if I sign up for Jane Smith’s free dog training tips report, I might use [email protected], which would then end in my catch-all domain email address. This way, you don’t have to provide your “real” email address, and you can determine if the list owner is selling or renting your email address to someone else. So if you suddenly start getting emails to your [email protected] address from a dog food company you’ve never heard of, you’ll know that Jane has sold or leased your email address to them.

7. Firewalls and Hackers. Make sure you’re using Windows Firewall protection to at least protect your computer from hacking while you’re online. Or use a free firewall like ZoneAlarm. You can also upgrade for a fee to get improved protection.

If you use a wireless router, be sure to set a password to protect it so that anyone passing by your home or office can’t hijack your signal and potentially hack into your computer. Last week I reset the wireless on my laptop and found that there are 3 unsecured wireless connections in my neighborhood. I live in a residential area with no businesses, so I know these were unsecured wireless routers in my neighbors’ homes.

8. Secure server. If you sell anything online, your website hosting account or your shopping cart provider must have a security certificate so that any monetary transactions can be made through a secure server. You can check if your checkout process is secure by looking for https:// in your browser’s address bar when browsing when on your site’s checkout/shopping cart page. Some browsers will also display a gold locked padlock icon when you are on a secure server.

I had to purchase a security certificate from my hosting company for my membership site because the secure server was not built into the shopping cart that is integrated into the membership site software. If you use Paypal or some version of, you are safe because your customers’ transactions are transferred through a secure server.

When you make sure your computer and email are protected from spam, viruses, malware and the like, your customers are safe when you email them or upload something to your site for them to access. Responsible online business owners should take all available precautions to improve Internet security for all involved.

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