Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Some Tips for Online Shopping* | Friday Fun

Busy! So, I am re – posting the following Basic Internet Shopping Tips in the hopes that Tech–for Everyone readers will not join the 12 million Americans who had their identities stolen last year. Please review this short checklist, and be a smarter, safer shopper.

  • Download/Install Software Updates — Regularly!
  • Use Complex Passwords (include numerals and symbols — @#$%^&*[])
  • Use ‘Onetime’ Credit Cards.
  • Verify Secure Connections before entering any info.
    See that little padlock symbol at the bottom of your screen, and in the URL address bar?
  • Check Your Credit report – make it a routine.
  • Enter Your Shopping Site’s Web Address Manually, and double-check your typing (embedded links = no!).
  • Shop From Your Own computer (not a public ‘hotspot’).
  • Enable your browser’s phishing filter, or install an add-on. (such as the super-easy WOT toolbar)
  • Do not Send Credit Card Information Over E-mail. Even if you think it’s secure. Don’t send it over IM either. If you feel uncomfortable about sending personal information online, call up the business.

I would like to direct your attention to the first bulletpoint. The programs on your computer need to be fully “patched” with the latest updates, as exploiting weaknesses is the primary method hackers use to infect your machines. (You visit a website that they’ve ‘poisoned’, and if you have an unpatched ‘hole’ [aka “vulnerability”], bingo – you’re infected.)

How do you know if you have the latest updates? For all your installed programs? Do you think you are patched? Don’t guess. Be sure! Keep reading!

Today’s free download: Secunia offers a tool that I highly recommend. The online scanner (which you should bookmark, btw) will scan your machine for roughly 100 programs and tell you if there is a patch/update you need. If you go this route, I suggest you visit once or twice a week.)
Better yet, they offer a download, a Personal Edition, which will scan your system against a database of over 7,000 programs.
Even better yet, it includes direct download links to the missing patches it finds.

I just ran it and it found an old ActiveX plug in, and told me that my Java Runtime Environment was out of date.. and I didn’t think I had installed JRE on this machine!

Related: Careful online shopping (a repost)

“It appears that we’ve reached a point where more people are doing their gift-buying online than at the mall.  It’s a fact: there are more reasons to do your shopping online this year than there were before ($3.49-per-gallon reasons)”

* Original posting: 12/20/08

Friday Fun (video):

Today’s quote:The world is governed more by appearance than realities so that it is fully as necessary to seem to know something as to know it.” ~ Daniel Webster (1782 – 1852)

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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October 28, 2011 - Posted by | advice, Internet, security | , , , ,


  1. Thanks for sharing. Useful info. I keep security related newsletters from you in my mail box forever.


    Comment by Murugesan | October 28, 2011 | Reply

    • Murugesan,
      Good to see you here again. I hope all is “groovy” with you and yours!

      (And thank you for the vote of support!)


      Comment by techpaul | October 29, 2011 | Reply

  2. The Friday Fun vid … funny and cute! These entertaining creatures are fun to have around. Thanks


    Comment by Gaia | October 29, 2011 | Reply

    • Gaia,
      I am glad you enjoyed this Friday’s Fun video. I didn’t have much time, and kind of grabbed the first thing i saw.. but I figured at least a few audience members out there like cats…


      Comment by techpaul | October 29, 2011 | Reply

  3. Cats are good. :)

    In addition, I always use “Private Browsing” in Tools with Firefox which does NOT keep cookies, history etc. And just for extra protection, (probably overkill) but it makes me feel safer.. I use Key Scrambler

    KeyScrambler Protects your secrets from keyloggers & keylogging malware attacking your computer. The Personal Edition only protects your browser not the entire PC.


    Comment by delenn13 | October 30, 2011 | Reply

    • delenn13,
      I think InPrivate is more effective at keeping your parents, or spouse, from seeing where you go on the Internet than it is Big Brother, but I am very glad it is now available to us. KeysSrambler is a Tech Paul reco.

      It is sad but true, connecting to the Internet today is dangerous and to be safe(r) requires some learning, some defensive measures, and the application of a defensive mentality — gaining some savvy, as you have. (That’s the main reason I write Tech – for Everyone) Thank you for sharing it here.


      Comment by techpaul | October 30, 2011 | Reply

  4. Cute video.

    I installed Secunia. Not sure about the configuration. I left it as is and it has given me feed back. I really would like to use it properly. I will do some more studying. Keep the good tips coming.


    Comment by ebony | October 30, 2011 | Reply

    • ebony,
      You should – if memory serves – simply install it and accept the defaults, and then it should automatically occasionally compare your installed programs with its database of current versions and latest patches.
      When it finds that one of your programs is no longer the very latest and newest (say.. Adobe has just released a new version) it will pop open a dialogue window alerting you to that fact, and provide you with a direct link to the proper download.
      So.. it may do feel like it is not doing anything for several days as no new updates have been released..

      But, I will take another look at it, just to make sure I am remembering the initial setup properly.. and maybe write a tutorial if it requires anything other than OK>I agree>Next>OK.


      Comment by techpaul | October 30, 2011 | Reply

  5. Thanks Paul :)

    Should you have time, these are the settings I am not sure about. Especially, the auto update. Do I necessarily want “the latest and greatest. Sometimes I do not like my programs changed, especially if I have learned how to use them and then the updates throw in something that is not useful to me.

    Enable automatic program updates
    When enabled, the Secunia PSI will continuously monitor if insecure programs that can be auto-updated are detected on your PC and automatically download and install the suggested security patches on your PC.

    Prompt before running automatic program updates
    When enabled, an approval icon will appear in the Scan Results if a program is about to be updated. The update will not start until the approval icon is clicked.

    Enable “Secure Browsing” Page
    Please note. The “Secure Browsing” page is an feature only recommended for advanced users. Check this box to enable the “Secure Browsing” page in the menu.


    Comment by ebony | November 2, 2011 | Reply

    • ebony,
      The first choice is “just do it” and the second choice is “let me decide” (prompt me) — sure sounds to me like you prefer the second choice.

      Enable “Secure Browsing” Page is not meant for typical computer users. This option shows if there are any vulnerabilities for browsers and add-ons that vendors have not yet patched (and there always are some of these).


      Comment by techpaul | November 2, 2011 | Reply

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