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Anyone looking for a job knows that his or her computer is a critical piece of equipment. What they may not know is that job searchers are a targeted market for spammers, hackers, and malware. So, how can you protect yourself in an online job search? Here are five ways to keep you, your information, and your computer safe.


  • Install security software and keep it up to date
  • Always ask, “Do you know these people?” when given a lead
  • Use a separate e-mail account for job searching activities
  • Use Mozilla Firefox with high security settings
  • Never pay someone to find you work

Install Security Software And Keep It Up To Date

This is one of the best ways to avoid viruses, Trojans, and malware. Even Apple computer users should now be running security software. The older your computer, the more you are online, the greater the risk. People that use PC laptops using free public Wi-Fi (offered at Starbucks and other places) are particularly at risk. One fellow job seeker with an older Sony Viao took his security suite off his machine to increase speed. While working at a Starbucks coffee shop, he managed to collect 74 (!!!) Trojan horses before his computer froze. The machine wasn’t permanently damaged but it was a hassle to fix. Installing Linux (for free) or new Windows (especially if the machine is running Vista) can speed up an older machine. In addition, anti-virus programs have improved. Rather than updating an old security program consider buying or downloading a newer one. BitDefender, Trend Micro Titanium, Panda, Kaspersky, and AVG all offer good alternatives to Norton and McAfee.

Always Ask, “Do You Know These People?” When Given An Online Lead

A good friend who is looking for work sent the following e-mail with the lead, "Malware job search e-mail." She meant well, unfortunately, this lead is a lure used to install malware. When a lead comes in like this one, send off a quick e-mail asking if your source knows these people before clicking through on any links. Un-recommended online leads should always be researched before contact. This is simple to do using a Google/Bing or an Alexa search. For the Google search type in the name of the lead. For example, ABC.com and the words “malware,” “virus,” or “spam.” This simple two-second search will weed out the real leads from the spurious and save you time and headaches: "beware of search spam." Alexa is a free site that tracks websites worldwide. Go to their website and type in the name of the website lead in the search box. Some spammers rank quiet well in both search results and on Alexa. Alexa offers ratings as well. Spammers and malware sites almost always have bad Alexa reviews telling prospective searchers to beware.

Use A Separate E-Mail Account For Job Searching Activities

There are several advantages to doing this. First, you can have all the job hunting activities easily forwarded to a smartphone and you can assign them a specific ringtone alert. Second, this separates things like your banking e-mails just in case your online job search e-mail address is hacked. Third, once you find a good job you can semi-abandon the job search e-mail account and avoid distractions without losing your regular e-mail contacts.

Use Mozilla Firefox With High Security Settings

Internet security starts and ends with your Internet browser. Mozilla (a free open source browser) is the most secure of all of them. While searching for employment set the security setting high in Mozilla’s preferences. Also, check “I do not want to be tracked.” For really serious security use the setting that deletes cookies every time the browser is closed and isolate job searching activity sessions from other Internet activity by restarting the browser and erasing all cache and cookies between sessions.

Never Pay Someone To Find You Work

There are services that will promise they can find you a great job just as long as you pay them a set amount of money. These are rarely reputable services. There are many better (and cheaper) ways to find employment. Enjoy this article? You've got time for another! Check out these related articles: Photo Credit: Shutterstock
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