Safety Tips for Yahoo! Messenger Usage

Article by George Norman (Cybersecurity Editor)

on 14 Apr 2009

Following the news that Yahoo! has released Yahoo! Messenger for iPhone (details here, FAQ here) and following the news that Yahoo! Messenger received the Best IM Client of 2009 Award (details here), I thought it fitting to present a few security tips that will keep you safe while using the instant messaging client.

Some of these tips might seem like common sense to the more security oriented users out there, but as recent reports about rogues security software have proved (here, here and here), there are still quite a large number of users out there that will fall for even the most basic of tricks. Keep in mind that computer sales are up and more and more people that have never been confronted with the dangers of computer usage and internet browsing are entering the ever increasing threatscape with no proper knowledge of how to stay secure.

Here is a quick list of safety tips you can employ with your instant messaging (IM) client usage:
- When someone sends you a link, do not click it – especially if the link comes from someone who is not in your Yahoo! Messenger contacts list. If the link says something like “I saw your girlfriend naked on this site”, you definitely know this is IM spam and the link leads to a malware spreading site. Only click links that you know are legitimate.
- If you have to click a link (for example when you cannot be sure whether it is legitimate or not), make sure you are using an up-to-date browser (Firefox 3.0.8 for example, not the outdated Firefox 2.0 with no support) and a properly good security solution that is also up-to-date with the latest virus signatures. You should also update apply any Yahoo! Messenger update as soon as it is made available for download.
- If someone sends you a file, make sure not to download it unless you are sure it is a legitimate transfer. Be especially cautious when someone sends you an .exe or a .zip file.
- When someone keeps sending you spam messages, add that contact to the “Ignore list”.
- If you want to enhance your YM experience, get plug-ins only from authorized sources. 3rd party apps you get from unauthorized sources are a security risc.
- When you access your Yahoo! Messenger account from a friend’s house, or from a public computer, make sure to delete your profile (C:Program FilesYahoo!MessengerProfiles) upon signing out.

If you have any other safety tips, feel free to share them in the comments section below.

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