Basic Internet Safety
Know The Risks
Using the Internet doesn't just put your computer at risk from viruses. There are many other dangers associated with Internet use and it pays to be aware of these before you log on. The five main concerns are:
- Viruses and Spy ware
- Stalkers and predators
- Scams and fraud
- Internet addiction
The sooner you can establish protection against the Internet nasties, the safer your computer will be. Ideally, a firewall and a quality anti-virus scanner should be installed before your computer logs onto the Internet for the first time. Norton Internet Security Suite and McAfee products are reputable and available for purchase from most computer stores.
Do some research on common viruses and how to recognise a dangerous link or email.
Give yourself and your family a set of guidelines for Internet use – what kinds of websites should be avoided, what types of programs can and can't be downloaded, what information should never be given out online, and put a cap on Internet hours to protect your family against addiction.
Protect your personal information
While it's important to secure the files and programs on your computer, it's just as important to stop yourself from divulging too much personal information on the Internet. Personal fraud and stalking is a real danger. Never use your full name or tell personal details to strangers, and never give your financial details to anyone over the Internet, no matter how well you know them.
When signing up to social networking sites, use a handle or nickname rather than your given name, and take advantage of the security features these websites provide. Set your security to "friends only" so that only people you know can see the photos and information you've posted.
Put Up The Walls
Installing a good quality, easy-to-use firewall will make it easy to protect your computer from viruses, spy ware, and hackers. Firewalls detect attempts at unauthorized entry into your computer and can be customized to automatically refuse entry, or prompt you to give or deny permission on a case-by-case basis. However, firewalls aren't perfect!
To protect yourself further, stay away from the shady parts of the Internet. Sleazy chat rooms and illegal websites are crawling with viruses and hackers looking to infect your computer.
Be Cautious Against Scams and Cons
Most email scams are easy to spot – a message from an unknown email address containing a sob story (or a grand prize) and a request for cash or your bank details. These are simple to get rid of, with a quick click of the DELETE key.
The types of frauds that are harder to avoid are the con artists who stake out chat rooms, forums and singles sites looking for chumps to rip off. Don't be overly guarded when making internet pals, but set yourself a strict set of guidelines before you start chatting to others online; know the limits of what information you will give out, no matter how well you "click" with someone. Be cautious when asked for your full name, address or phone number and never, ever, divulge your financial details, even if you have met your "friend" in real life.
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