Awareness : Security Awareness Tips

Safe Web Browsing

As use of the Web becomes more commonplace, web designers face increasing pressure to create web sites that are more visually appealing than their competitors. They often add “Active Content” (ActiveX Controls, Scripting, Java Applets and Cookies) to increase their site’s functionality or enhance its appearance. Active Content uses scripts which execute computer programs within your web browser. These programs produce features which include “splash web pages,” “splash ads,” and “drop-down menus.”

While most Active Content is used for legitimate purposes, hackers have been able to manipulate it for malicious purposes:

  • Active Content may be used to install malware on your computer, which can spread rapidly to other machines on a network.
  • Active Content may install “cookies” and/or “spyware” on your computer which can harvest personal information on behalf of third parties.
  • Active Content may also be used to install pop-up ads, which can frustrate anyone’s web browsing experience as well as negatively affect your computer’s performance.

While there is no 100%-secure method of browsing the web, there are ways to minimize your computer’s exposure to harmful Active Content.

Always try to use the latest version of your browser. Check for security patches from your browser vendor on a regular basis.

Adjust the privacy and security settings of your web browser to block or limit sites with active content. This may, however, limit some functionality or “break” some features of the sites you visit.

Be aware that little known web sites are more likely to have malicious content than the genuine sites of well-known companies.

For further information on Active Content, visit the following web site: http://www.us-cert.gov/cas/tips/ST04-012.html. For assistance with adjusting your browser settings and applying security patches, contact your System Administrator.

Posted February 28, 2005