It used to be that you could surf the net and all you’d suffer was a couple of sore fingers and perhaps some bleary eyes. The Internet was a safe place and you could pretty much go in there without any kind of protection like virus killers, pop-up blockers or anti-virus constantly running.

I remember, back in my system admin days, sitting at my desk, cranking up the modem and surfing around the Nasa website clicking on images and links with abandon without a care in the world. I guess I remember that with the same nostalgia as we all remember the long hot summers where we could walk the streets in safety.

The ‘net back then was safer. It wasn’t perfectly safe because even then people realised that they could exploit loopholes and deploy something to delete a hard disk or email itself to all your contacts.

However, in those days the Internet was the domain of the geek. Us nerds were the only people who ‘logged on’ and so we were well versed in keeping safe. It was almost seen as a challenge to ensure you surfed the net perfectly safely and closed off all potentially dangerous ports in the firewall (usually by connecting a big green screen terminal to the hardware in question).

Today, things are different. The Internet is now where everyone goes. From kids to grannies, the internet is the place to meet up and chat and share ideas. It’s also the place for businesses to advertise and expand their reach. Everyone is welcome, but not everyone is ready.

There are more dangers on the Internet than there ever have been. The Internet is full of scam artists and danger and yet the users of it are less prepared and more gullible than ever before (no offence).

And now even Facebook has been targetted (http://tinyurl.com/5daqu3).

This particularly nasty virus will attempt to steal your credit card details by fooling you to download some malicious software. But why?

Well, when any particular website or software or platform becomes popular then a certain critical mass is created. If someone writes some software that exploits a loophole then they’ve got a pretty good chance of getting away with it for a long time on a platform that has lots of users. Even though the message will get round quickly, there’s still plenty of money to be made due to the sheer number of users who won’t hear about the problem until it’s too late.

So what’s the answer?

Unfortunately, no one piece of software will save you. You need to be savvy if you’re going to dip your toe into the Internet waters and you need to be wary of scams. You need to be prepared for people to try to take your money and steal your stuff.

In other words, it’s a bit like life.