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How to Protect Personal Information

IEEE security experts from around the globe arm citizens against botnets and malware

10 November – How do you know if your online activities are secure, or if trouble is lurking around the corner? IEEE, the world’s largest technical professional association, has brought together its security expert members to evaluate the most substantial threats to personal information, and to advise the public on how to best protect against security compromises online.  As part of IEEE’s global vision of advancing technology for humanity, IEEE members are working on improving ways to protect individuals’ personal and financial information, as well as help secure the vast amounts of information captured by large organizations – and   in the process, alert the public to the realities of the internet.

IEEE reached out to its security expert members around the globe this month to assess the current state of online security. All of the IEEE security experts polled cited malicious software, referred to as malware, and botnets, a group of automatic robots that infect a group of computers, as the chief security concerns for internet users. Malware includes things such as spyware and adware applications, as well as viruses and worms.  These applications, once embedded in a computer, can track surfing habits of users and redirect searches, as well as send personal information, including passwords and credit card numbers, to a third party.

“The best rule when it comes to opening email attachments is if you don’t know the user, don’t trust it,” said Prof. Matthew Bishop, IEEE member and author of the textbook, Computer Security: Art and Science. “If you have any uncertainty, contact the sender offline to verify that the email and its attachment are both genuine.  Even if your trusted friend sent you the email, they could unknowingly include a virulent attachment.”

Read the full press release. (PDF, 321 KB)