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Internet Safety

Computer Virus’, Spyware, and Adware

Computer virus’ are programs that can infect a computer without the user’s permission or knowledge. What the virus does then, is up to the developer and can often have malicious intentions. Spyware is a program that infects a user’s computer with the intention of tracking and reporting back the user’s information along with tracking the computer user’s actions. Adware is a program that displays advertisements on a user’s computer without their consent.

There are simple steps to protect yourself from these types of malicious programs:

  • Install, and keep up to date anti-virus software and a firewall.
  • Do not download free programs, unless it comes from a reputable company.
  • Do not open email attachments (even from individuals you know), unless you are expecting it.

Identity Theft, Internet Fraud, and Online Shopping

Here are some simple things that will protect yourself from Identity theft, and Internet fraud. These will help ensure online shopping stays safe and secure.

  • When using online auctions or for-sale websites, be extra cautious about the seller and merchandise they are selling. Often the products can be falsely represented or non-existent.
  • Be wary of email scams asking for money in return of a larger sum of money later on. Often other scams involve contest sweepstakes that say you have won without yourself registering for.
  • When registering to websites, do not provide any personal information, including your name unless it is a trusted website.
  • If you receive an email asking for you to verify, or update your information on a financial institution’s website, do not click the link in the website. This is a common scheme, called phishing, which provides a site that looks like the financial institution’s website, but instead steals your login or other personal information.

When making online purchases via credit card, use only one credit card, and be sure to check the statements for unauthorized purchases.

Cyber-stalking and Online Predators

Cyber-stalking and online predators is a growing problem that victimizes people of all ages and genders. This can occur not only through chat-rooms or instant messaging, but from online forums, blogs, or social networking sites. There are certain things to be vigilant of while online:

  • Do not provide personal information, such as your full name, phone number, or address on any websites which are viewable by the public.
  • When using social networking websites, limit who can see your profile page, and do not provide detailed personal information that can identify yourself.
  • Choose anonymous usernames that do not identify yourself.
  • Do not provide pictures or detailed personal information to people you do not know.
  • Keep tabs on children or teenager’s activities online, and ensure they do not provide personal information to individuals that they do not know.

Following these tips will help prevent yourself from becoming a victim on the internet. But the best tip is to use good judgment and common sense. If something doesn’t feel right or seems too good to be true, it probably is.