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Internet Safety Tips



The Internet is a great place, but like many things, it has its Dark Sides. This is no different than many things we do daily driving a car (could be car-jacked), stopping at a store (could be robbed), participating in a phone survey (could be a burglar securing info), etc. We deal with these and are generally safe, IF we are on guard and apply Safety Tips we have learned somewhere. Individuals who may be concerned about using the Internet, because it is "not safe" or because we may have heard a horror story or two, should follow the same course. If you do not already have some Internet Safety Tips, consider the following items as a "starter" list:
  1. Encryption
    Make sure your browser has strong encryption, particularly when you're making a financial transaction or passing information you would not like others to have. You want to ensure that only you and the people you're doing business with have the info (credit card, personal data, etc.). In Internet Explorer, check About from the Help menu to see if you have 128-bit encryption. In Netscape, run Software Updates from the Help menu and click on Installed Software to check, and update directly. Opera supports 128-bit automatically. America On Line (AOL) users should download a second browser to use high encryption.

  2. Avoid Spam
    Spam is generally "shotgun mail" (mass E-Mailings) of unsolicited information, in hopes of "hitting" a potential target (the E-Mail address of anyone, secured somehow). To help avoid this, set up and use a free E-Mail account (Hotmail, Yahoo, etc.) to post messages to news groups and register with web sites. Some E-Mail providers have spam controls installed that will automatically delete unauthorized mail.

  3. Constant Connection
    If you have an "always on" connection, consider turn your computer off when you're not using it. With DSL (Direct Subscriber Lines) and cable modems becoming commonplace, the folks looking for computers to invade can find your computer live on the Internet. Shutting down your computer, or using firewall software will greatly enhance your computer security.

  4. Sensitive Information
    Don't give your Social Security number, or other sensitive information, to anyone online! An address and Social Security number is all anyone needs to steal your identity. If asked for this (or any information you don't want to offer) in an online form, leave it blank. Tell the web site that this information belongs to you.

  5. E-Mail 
    Use a free E-Mail account to identify yourself. It is usually best to choose an E-Mail identifier that does not reveal who you are. BSmith or SmithB would be better than BobSmith. NEVER open an attachment if you don't know who it is from, and then it should be verified - some code you have worked out with the person that is a part of the message body or an E-Mail to the person asking if they sent the attachment. Otherwise you may get a virus, and you certainly won't be happy with the results!

  6. Chatting Online 
    If you Chat online or use Chat Rooms, be very careful what name you chose and what information you give out. Essentially, everyone is wearing a mask, so you don't know who they really are or what they really want. It is especially important to caution young people about this aspect of the Internet. Turn off your instant messenger when you're not using it.

  7. Software 
    Don't install any software if you do not know what it will do. This is the quickest way to have your system "trashed" by some sick minded programmer.

  8. Internet Computer 
    Consider having one computer to access the Internet and one computer to do all your other work. Usually your old computer with a fast modem, browser, virus checkers, and maybe a few other selected programs (with no other files on the computer) will work for the internet computer. Once you are sure the files you have obtained from the Internet are "safe," transfer then to the other computer, if needed, via disk, network (connected when you transfer and unconnected after finished), CD-RW, or other suitable means. That way, no one will be tempted to steal anything from the Internet computer.

There are many other "Safety Tips" that would be worth considering. You will add to the list as you read about and use the Internet, and interact with other computer users. These are provided to help raise the level of Internet "Safety" awareness.

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