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Saturday, April 12, 2008

7 Ways to Protect Yourself Online

Based on information provided on the Internet World Stats website, there are about 1.3 billion internet users worldwide. Some of these users are friendly people who want to enjoy entertaining themselves, communicating with friends and family, or researching and shopping. There are others who may be conducting business online and there are stil others who are there to harm your computer.

The Internet can be a great place to do a lot of great things, but special care should be taken to make sure conditions are as safe as possible.

Here they are:

1) Scan for viruses - It doesn't matter as much about what program you are using as it does how often you use it. Having the best virus software and never using it is about as bad as having no software at all. Computers can become infected in a number of different ways, so it makes sense to scan and scan often.

2) Scan for spyware - It's really not a great thing when someone can watch what you're doing from your home or business computer. Whether they are watching directly or indirecting, using software, caution should be taken to make sure spyware is removed.

3) Avoid internet scams - If it sounds too good to be true or if you're getting something for nothing, avoid it at all costs. There are probably scams being created every day that focus on people's emotions in order to persuade them to take some type of unwise action. If you fall for a scam, it can costs hundreds or thousands of dollars and can be hard to dispute if you try to prove that the actions were fraudulent.

4) Avoid hoaxes - Hoaxes play on people's emotions especially to forward emails that contain myths or folklore. Since the emails may sound like something that has actually occurred, people forward them and the process continues.

5) Report and Recognize Phishing - Phishing involves someone trying to obtain your personal information such as bank account information through cleverly designed emails and webpages. The best thing to do is to report these types of incidents to the necessary authorities. The key component is actually recognizing the phishing attempts. If you receive an email that asks for personal information or has a link to login to an account, avoid it 99% of the time. Most organizations will not ask for social security numbers, account numbers, or passwords from email.

6) Avoid pornography - The best solution for avoiding most pornography that exists on the web is to install a filter. One of the filters that I recommend can be found will take care of most of the process. Inappropriate sites will be blocked and parents can take an active approach at controlling the internet use in their home.

7) Use caution when blogging - Blogging can be a great thing most of the time. It is great for search engine optimization and building communities online, but caution should be used when including information that is personal or when discussing details of other people's lives. In addition, to keep people from stalking you, I would not suggest chronicling every detail of your every day life.

Devin Dabney is a computer consultant, author, speaker, and entrepreneur who is the founder and CEO of DabneyWorks Computer Consulting. DabneyWorks provides remote and in-person computer assistance , website design and auditing, and business consultation.

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