Safe practices while using Instant Messengers(IM)

Today I am going to talk about something so simple but yet too important. I wont be talking about any software or application tool today. I will just talk about few small things that can keep you protected from Phishing, Malware, Virus attacks etc while you use your Instant Messengers.

Even though many of you may have heard about all this somewhere here or there, But I bet most of the internet users are so ignorant of what they are doing when they click on something on the web and about the consequences that may follow. This post is for those guys and may be many others who use Instant Messengers often.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

Instant messengers are heavily targeted for spreading viruses, Trojan horses, and worms including phishing attacks. The reason being, most often users using it think its coming from a friend or someone who he can trust. Also, most users dont even think that IM can be used for spreading viruses etc.

These attacks are either in the form of Attachments or web links which are normally hidden behind some good looking or normal web link. It is used for spam too and many of them often contain offensive language or links to Web sites with inappropriate content or even leading to malware sites.

Everyone should also keep in mind that most IMs travel unencrypted across the web, exposing your private conversations to anyone who can find a way to listen in. In simple terms, anyone with a technical knowhow and with a nasty mind or attitude can find out what you are talking about on IM.

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO WHILE USING IMs

  • Never open attachments or click on Web links sent by strangers. Even if its from a known person, make sure the link is sent by that person only either by asking him directly online or some other way.
  • Avoid sending sensitive files over IM
  • If you are getting strange messages, files, or web site links etc from either from some unknown or even someone in your friends list, , terminate your IM session.
  • Never ever click a shortened URLs as you don’t know whats going to be the final web link you are being referred too.

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