7 Ways To Keep Yourself Secure On The Internet

Source http://www.securitymanor.com/

The internet is a great tool for many things, but unfortunately it can also pose a security risk for your personal information and privacy. Everyone who is connected to the internet needs to be aware of and have a basic understanding of how to protect themselves. Here are 7 things you can do to keep yourself safe...

1. Firewall

Make sure you're running a firewall, either software running on your computer or a hardware-based device.

2. Multiple Users

If you need to share your computer with other people, make sure there are rules in place of what they can and can't do. This is especially true with kids - they have a tendency to download anything and everything, without any thought for how it could affect the computer and the information on it.

3. Backup

Backup your data on a regular basis - particularly anything you couldn't easily replace. If your computer is ever infected by a virus or some other security problem, you could lose all the information on it. Having a backup will save you from losing it permanently.

4. Avoid Unknowns

Avoid clicking links in unexpected email messages or downloading files or attachments that you weren't expecting. These things can lead to security problems and virus infections. Even if someone you know sends you something, don't click it until you verify they meant to send it and it's safe.

5. Avoid File Sharing Software

Programs like Kazaa that let you download music and other pirated files often include spyware and adware that can cause your computer to run very slowly or not work properly at all. Avoid the temptation of installing these things because they're just not worth the hassle.

6. Disconnect From The Internet

Most high-speed internet connections are "always on" - whenever your computer is turned on, your connection is active. If you're not using the internet, it's best to disconnect from it to keep your computer safe from unexpected attacks or infections.

 

7. Antivirus

Make sure you have a good antivirus program installed on your computer and - most importantly - you keep it updated. If your antivirus is not up to date, you might as well not be running one at all.

Security Manor

How You Can Protect Kids From Online Dangers

The Internet is an amazing tool that people rely on more and more in several aspects of their lives. One of the fastest growing demographics of Internet users is children. Unfortunately, children are also one of the demographics most vulnerable to being taken advantage of online, making protecting children a chief concern of both parents and software developers. There are several keys to making sure children are protected when using the Internet.

The most important thing that can be done to help a child stay safe when using the Internet is to educate the child of the dangers that exist online. Children should know that while sites such as chat rooms seem like a lot of fun, that there could be dangerous people looking for pictures or personal information of children.

Social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook are becoming increasingly popular among teens, but users should take precautions such as setting profile pages to “private” to control who is authorized to view the child’s page. Personal information such as phone numbers and addresses should never be posted in a public place on the Internet.

One of the tools that parents often turn to in order to keep their children safe online is filtering software. This software is designed to examine web pages for content that might be offensive, inappropriate, or unsafe for children and to block the site from being accessed from a user’s computer. This software is effective and helpful, but should never be considered a replacement for supervision from parents.

There are often sites that somehow find loopholes in even the most effective filters, so parents should still monitor computer activity. One of the downsides to filtering software is that pages that are inoffensive may be blocked, hindering the user’s ability to access needed information from a harmless website. Filtering software should be password protected so that children can’t give themselves access to the entire Internet.

Many parents monitor children’s Internet activities by tracking where they have been online. Checking browser history and other files stored on computers as users surf from web page to web page is a good way to make sure your children are staying away from harmful or offensive sites. However, many children who use the Internet are smart enough to know how to cover their tracks, so relying on tracking the history of web sites visited is not enough in most cases. Several filtering programs send parents a weekly report of web sites visited and time spent online, a more accurate way to track a child’s Internet activity.

Setting house rules for computer and Internet use is another effective way to protect children who use the Internet. Some rules could include keeping the computer in a public room in the house, limiting the time and hours each day that the Internet can be used, and maintaining a list of approved websites for children to visit.

A parent’s responsibility is to use a combination of all of the above tools and ideas to make sure their children who use the Internet are protected. 

How You Can Spot Email Scams

Most of us get spam trying to sell us things, most commonly prescriptions, cheap mortgage rates, online gambling and other, more “adult” topics. Most of us just delete them or hit the “spam” button and move on. There are some other types of spam that are a little more serious, however.

One well-known example, circulating for years now, is the Nigerian bank scam. The sender, allegedly the wife or relative of a former dictator or government official (usually in Nigeria, hence the name) tells the sad story of how millions were deposited in a bank account which is no longer accessible. In exchange for your help, they’re willing to share this wealth - for a few mere thousands from your bank account for ‘expenses’. As ludicrous as it seems, people fall for this every year. In one well-publicized case an elderly Czech man who had lost his life savings to this scam shot the Nigerian consul in Prague.

Some Internet scams offer investment opportunities with huge paybacks. They usually claim to be risk-free, but once they have your money, you’re very unlikely to see any return. Another common scam involves offering credit cards for those with bad credit ratings - just send a security deposit and processing fees. In return you get - that’s right - nothing. And by the time you start to investigate, the scam artist has disappeared.

These scams can also effect legitimate businesses you might be dealing with. Because there is so much spam these days, the email services are working hard to filter it out. These filters can sometimes stop legitimate messages, however, and you may not receive something you wanted.

How To Avoid Getting Scammed

Never reply to spam. Doing so simply indicates to the spammer that your e-mail address is valid, and you’ll receive more spam than before. Some spam contains a message offering to remove your e-mail address from their mailing list. Don’t use even this service - it’s nothing but another method for verifying e-mail addresses.

Above all, never give your credit card number, bank account details or private data to anyone unknown over the Internet. PayPal, for example, and other legitimate online businesses will never ask for your password in an email. One common scam is to fake return addresses and tailor subject lines and content so the message appears to be from them or another financial institution ‘confirming’ your information. Don’t fall for them.

How do you know whether it’s spam? Since, one man’s spam is sometimes another’s welcomed advertisement, there’s no perfect answer. But there is one good rule of thumb: if you don’t recognize the sender, it’s probably not someone you want to hear from. After all, how many former dictators in Nigeria are you likely to know?

A Brief History of Computer Viruses

There is a great deal of debate about this history and evolution of computer viruses. Although many experts may disagree on the origins of viruses, their history is an interesting one. Computer viruses have evolved over the years as the measures taken to detect and disable viruses have become more effective. There is a constant struggle between programmers who write viruses and the programmers who create anti-virus software, with one group trying to stay a step ahead of the other. Computer users can more effectively defend themselves against viruses when they have an understanding of how viruses work and their origins.

In 1949, a mathematician named John Von Neumann introduced the concept of programs that could be taught to replicate themselves. Although this thinking was way ahead of its time, the roots of computer viruses can be traced to the principles Von Neumann was describing. Nearly 20 years later, in the late 1960s, computer users created a game called “Core Wars,” where they would attempt to occupy all of the existing memory on other player’s computers. Programmers at the time had no idea that they were writing computer viruses.

The first known personal computer virus was called the brain virus, and it began infecting PCs in 1986. The Brain Virus was created in Pakistan and was a boot sector virus that affected disk space as opposed to hard drives. The virus would render floppy disks unusable by eliminating their available space. The Brain Virus was a “Stealth” virus, or in other words a virus that tried to affect machines without being noticed by the user. The first anti-virus program was created in 1988. The program was designed specifically to deal with the Brain Virus, detecting, removing, and protecting disks from future problems with the virus. The first Trojan horse virus was also created in the mid 1980’s.

In late 1987, the first “memory resident file infector” was createdóa virus that was embedded in a file and attacked only once the program was ordered to execute by the user. The first of these viruses was called the Lehigh Virus, as the first computers it attacked were at Lehigh University. A month later, a similar virus, called the Jerusalem Virus, attacked in Israel, becoming the first virus that replicated itself within infected files.

In 1990, several companies started selling anti-virus software, including IBM and McAfee, with Symantec introducing Norton Anti-Virus software in 1991. Viruses were become more stealth and more effective than ever before and the need for anti-virus software was growing for PC owners. Ironically, only a few years later, most computer experts felt that anti-virus software would no longer be necessary once Microsoft released its 1995 version of Windows, a fact that is hard to believe in retrospect.

Nearly every year since the mid 90’s, another new virus has been created, detected, and rendered ineffective by anti-virus software. The tug of war between programmers who write viruses and anti-virus software programmers will likely continue for years to come.

How To Protect Your Computer From Virus Attacks

One of the most frustrating experiences that a computer owner can go through is to see files lost or damaged by a computer virus. Hackers are continuously creating new virus threats and it’s important to protect your files and computer hardware by having virus protection in place. Many of the newer viruses are designed specifically to circumvent to virus protection that currently exists in the marketplace. Although no anti-virus software can guarantee to keep 100% of viruses from affecting your system, there are two very important things that computer users can do to make being affected by a computer virus less likely.

First, computer users should have reliable anti-virus software and update that software whenever updates are available. There are several anti-virus software options available for all types of computer users and in all price ranges. A free anti-virus program that you download usually won’t provide the same level of protection as an anti-virus software package purchased specifically for your computer, but it will still be better than nothing. The typical activities that you participate in online should also have a bearing on what type of anti-virus software you use. For instance, a user who downloads music, movies, or games is at greater risk of being exposed to a computer virus than one who uses the Internet strictly for E-mail, but neither user is 100% safe.

Along with using effective anti-virus software, it’s important to update your computer with security patches and other updates as they become available. As new viruses and hacker techniques become more common, providers of anti-virus software work to stay ahead of the curve in preventing damaging virus attacks. Most computer viruses are fairly slow moving and makers of anti-virus software are generally able to get remedies out to their users fairly quickly, but it’s up to the users to install and use these software updates.

The other important way to protect yourself from computer viruses is to practice safe habits when using the computer. There are several sites that allow users to download music for instance, but some are much more reliable than others. Sites that charge more for music downloads also provide a much higher level of security than sites that provide cheap or even free downloads. If your Internet activities open you to more risk of accidentally downloading a virus, it’s a good idea to spend a little extra money for better protection. In addition, never download anything that comes from an unknown source or click on links embedded in e-mails when you don’t know the sender. Part of protecting yourself from viruses is being smart enough to avoid situations where a virus could endanger your system.

Computer viruses come in all shapes and sizes and can do various extents of damage, from damaging files to physically damaging hard drives and other equipment. Virus protection can be costly, but not nearly as costly as the process of trying to recover lost or damaged files. Staying up to date with anti-virus software and practicing smart computer habits can keep most users out of trouble.

A Brief History of Email Spam

If you use e-mail at all, chances are you receive spam messages from time to time, probably more often than you realize. Most e-mail providers filter spam and send it to a “junk mail” folder where it is never seen or accessed. Many e-mail boxes receive hundreds of spam messages each day. Spamming is the process of sending bulk electronic messages to multiple e-mail addresses in hopes that a small percentage of recipients will read the message.

Spam is not limited to e-mail, although that is what it is most often associated with, but rather is used through various electronic mediums. Spam has not always been a part of the Internet, but it’s interesting to take a look at spam’s beginnings.

The popular belief is that this junk e-mail was called “spam” because of a Monty Python sketch produced in 1970, long before electronic spam was in existence. The sketch portrayed a cafe where everything on the menu was some variation of Spam, the canned meat. In the background, patrons sing a loud song about Spam, drowning out the restaurant staff’s attempt to speak to customers, thus “Spamming” the conversation. Unsolicited, junk e-mail became known as spam because it made it difficult to filter through and retrieve the messages that were solicited and welcomed by the recipient.

In 1998, the dictionary added the following definition to the word spam: “Irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent on the Internet to a large number of newsgroups or users.” Before spam was being sent to e-mail boxes however, it was being used in other ways on the Internet. The first known unsolicited electronic message sent for commercial purposes was in 1978. Throughout the 1980’s, before e-mail was so popular and widespread, spammers annoyed users of message boards and chat rooms by flooding the conversations with commercial messages. The flooding of message boards and chat rooms was called “flooding” or “trashing” before it became known as “spamming.”

Unsolicited electronic messages are not unique to the Internet. In the 19th century, unsolicited junk telegrams were sent regularly. Today, spam can be in the form of unsolicited instant messages, junk text messages sent to multiple wireless phones, or even pre-recorded messages left on voice mail systems.

When unsolicited junk e-mail became known as spam, the maker of the canned meat, Hormel, brought legal action to prevent these unwanted messages being called Spam. Eventually, Hormel came around, insisting only that when publishers are referring to the canned meat as opposed to the junk mail, they use all capital letters.

Today, there are over 12.4 million spam e-mails sent every day. It is estimated that over 40% of all the e-mail sent over the Internet is spam. The average person receives 2200 spam messages every year. Although spam is a tremendous waste of space and time, it continues to be used because it works. Over 8% of Internet users have bought a product directly because of a spam message. Avoiding spam is nearly impossible, but e-mail providers today are doing an increasingly better job of keeping it separate from legitimate electronic messages.

4 Tips For Avoiding E-mail Spam

If you have an e-mail address, there’s a good chance that you are already familiar with spam. As of 2006, over 40% of the e-mail sent on the Internet was unsolicited, junk e-mail intended for commercial purposes, better known as spam. The average person receives over 100 spam e-mail messages every day. E-mail service providers have done a good job at figuring out how to filter spam out of inboxes and send it to a junk mail folder, but even with incoming messages being screened and filtered, spam continues to be a nuisance to most people.

Although it may be impossible to avoid spam entirely, there are several things that e-mail users can do to reduce incoming spam, including:

Control your E-mail address

The more frequently an internet user enters or posts an e-mail address online, the greater the chance of spammers adding that e-mail address to their list. Avoid posting an e-mail address on a message board. Many people create a disposable e-mail address, one that they use when they need to enter an address to sign up for something online. Their personal e-mail address, or the main address that they prefer to use, is given only to people and businesses that are known and invited to use the address.

Watch out for check boxes

As our world becomes more electronic, we are often asked to register in order to use certain websites that we need access to. Quite often, the registration process includes questions regarding the registrant’s desire to receiving related offers via e-mail. In most cases, these check boxes are already checked for you, and you need to un-check the boxes to avoid being barraged with junk e-mail. Much of the spam that is received in e-mail boxes is invited because of these check boxes.

Disguise your E-mail address

There are times when users have to post their e-mail address in a place that could be seen by other web users. One way to avoid attracting spammers is to disguise the posted address. For example, instead of posting your actual e-mail address of joeblow@hotmail.com, you would post “joeblow AT hotmail DOT com.” Programs that scan web pages for e-mail addresses will not detect this disguised address. It’s also a good idea to search online for your e-mail address. Typing your actual e-mail address into Google will tell you whether or not it can be found in public places online.

Read Privacy Policies

Many of the websites that Internet users register for have terms and conditions that most people never read. Within these terms and conditions, there is a privacy policy that should state ways that your information will be kept confidential. If you are not satisfied with the measures being taken to protect your information, you should not register at the site.

There are several other tricks and tips to avoid spam e-mail, but taking the above steps will be a good start. If spam is a problem for you, consider starting over with a new e-mail address and practicing the above habits.

The 3 Forms Of Computer Viruses

There are several types of computer viruses that Internet users need to be aware of. These viruses can be contracted and infect a computer in a variety of ways, ranging from mild annoyances to destructive forces to computer files and hardware. Viruses can enter your computer in a number of ways, but are generally avoidable with a combination of effective anti-virus software and safe surfing habits when online. However, it’s good to know of what types of viruses and other threats could impact your computer.

Viruses

A virus is a computer program that is written to enter your computer, overwrite existing program data, and replicate itself without the knowledge of the owner of the computer. There are several varieties of viruses, including boot sector viruses, companion viruses, link viruses, and macro viruses. Viruses can enter a computer in various ways but they all have one thing in common: they must be executed by the computer user to affect a computer. The amount of damage done by a virus varies greatly, some viruses are never even detected while others erase program data, destroy information on hard drives and disks, and are a hassle to detect and remove.

Worms

A worm is similar to a virus, but it spreads from computer to computer over a network connection. A worm is not likely to afflict a single computer, but is a common and troublesome problem in some computer networks. Worms are designed to enter computers and then scan systems for security flaws and look for areas that are unprotected. A classic example is the ILOVEYOU worm, an E-mail that had a subject of “I love you” and an attachment inside. When the attachment was opened, the worm entered the computer and destroyed several different types of files. The worm also sent itself to the user’s entire Outlook address book, afflicting computers all along the way. In 2004, an estimated 45 million computer were hit with the ILOVEYOU worm in just one day.

Trojan Horses

A Trojan horse is a program that is downloaded by a computer user that does not destroy data or files. Instead, a Trojan horse allows files to be accessed by outside parties. The problem begins with a download of a file that seems innocent - perhaps a song or small program file. Trojan horses are a serious concern because of the rising seriousness of identity theft and the importance of protecting the privacy of sensitive information. The key to avoiding a Trojan horse is to download only content that you are 100% certain is from a credible and safe source.

The best way to avoid viruses, worms, and Trojan horses is to make sure anti-virus software is reliable and up to date. Many computer owners take the first step of purchasing good anti-virus software, but they fail to install patches and updates as they become available. Because the creators are viruses are getting more and more creative, it’s essential to keep security measures up to date on your computer.

3 Common Identity Theft Scams

One factor that is curbing the growth of identity theft that we have seen for so many years is that the word is finally out on how to protect yourself from having your identity stolen. Education has been the key to making it difficult for identity thieves to operate. The problem has not disappeared by any means, but criminals are finding it necessary to be more creative in order to get the information they seek.

There are several new scams that are important to understand.

Most people are familiar with phishing. Phishing is a technique used by identity thieves where they send consumers E-mails that appear to be from a legitimate source, such as a bank or credit card company. The E-mail will ask the consumer to verify some important pieces of information, such as account numbers, credit card numbers, or even social security numbers. When the e-mail is returned with the information that was requested, an identity thief has all he/she needs to start buying things and spending money in your name.

Phishing was much more effective in the early part of this decade when fewer people were aware of the scam, but twists have been added so that the phishing scam still works for criminals. A common twist is for the E-mail to warn consumers of phishing scams, remind them not to send sensitive information online, and instead ask the consumer to call a toll free number to verify important account information. The provided phone number is routed to the scam artist, who poses as your bank to take the information that is sought.

Another newer scam being used via the Internet is among people searching for employment at sites like monster.com or careerbuilder.com. A “perspective employer” will make contact with an individual who has posted a resume and ask the applicant to submit to a background check.

Job seekers thinking that the information is being requested by a legitimate source gladly provide a social security number and any other information that is requested. The lesson is to never trust anyone with your sensitive information unless you are 100% sure that it will be protected.

Spoofing is an attempt made by an identity thief to gain access to a secure website or secure information by posing as an authorized user. Spoofing is a tool the identity thieves have found some success in using. One example is creating a website that mirrors an existing website that users feel comfortable sharing information within.

There are several variations of spoofing, but the less remains the same. Internet users should refuse to enter sensitive information anywhere online where they are not 100% sure that the information is secure.

There are countless other scams used by identity thieves to gain access to information, but the basis for each idea is the same. Identity thieves get information from consumers by first earning their trust. Being aware of these scams will help people to avoid them and avoid the damage caused by identity theft.

4 Signs That You Might Be A Victim Of Identity Theft

One of the most alarming elements of identity theft is that it’s a crime that can very often go on for weeks, months, or even years before it’s detected. By the time the victim realizes what has happened, the amount of damage that has been done is catastrophic.

Financial losses can add up without a consumer realizing it, and victims of identity threat often see their credit scores adversely impacted, leading to more financial stress in the future. The key to minimizing the negative consequences of identity theft is discovering early on that someone is using your personal information for their financial gain.

There are several red flags to watch for that will help keep damage to a minimum. Some of these include:

  1. Unidentified Items on Credit Reports: There are three major credit reporting agencies that consumers should be aware of: Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union. It’s a good idea to pull your credit report at least annually to make sure that there is nothing unfamiliar open in your name. There are also agencies that will monitor your credit report in your behalf on an ongoing basis for a small fee. Alerting these agencies of any red flags you find is also a good idea.
  2. Unexplained withdrawals from bank accounts and credit charges: Unfortunately, there are many people who receive bank statements in the mail and either fail to open them or fail to check them thoroughly. It’s important to be able to account for every transaction with your bank account. It’s easy to monitor most bank accounts online, an activity that could become a weekly habit to keep identity theft damage to a minimum. Credit card statements should also be examined thoroughly to ensure all of the charges are accounted for.
  3. Unknown Collectors Calling: If you hear from a collector asking about repayment on a bill that you’ve never heard of, there’s a chance that an identity thief has opened an account and spent money in your name. Do not assume these calls are a mistake. Ask for all of the information that the collector can provide in writing, including a history of the debt, to get an idea of how long the problem has existed.
  4. Missing Statements and Other Mail: Once an identity thief is using your credit card or bank account, a common practice is to change the mailing address on your accounts so that statements don’t arrive in your mailbox. Pay attention to when monthly statements normally arrive and investigate if you’re statement is missing. When possible, elect to receive bills and statements online to minimize chances of stolen mail leading to your identity being stolen.

Identity theft can cause serious problems in your financial life today and in the future, as identity thieves will not only spend money in your name now, but ruin your credit for years to come. Paying attention to the above red flags will help you to keep problems to a minimum if your identity is stolen.

Removing Spyware From Your Computer

One of the most heavily avoided software programs that computers are susceptible to is spyware. Although there is spyware on the market that serves useful purposes, such as logging internet and keyboard activity for parents, most spyware is little more than a nuisance.

Spyware is designed to track a user’s online activity and send messages to advertisers that should target that particular user. Spyware can create much slower computer performance or even cause a hard drive to crash if it consumes too much processing power. Most computer users are eager to get rid of and avoid spyware as much as possible. There are several factors that computer users who wish to avoid spyware should consider.

There are several signs that may indicate that a computer is infected with spyware. First, there may be an unusual increase in pop up ads. These advertisements open in new windows and may even pop up on your computer when you’re not surfing the web. Second, if your internet browser settings change unexpectedly, such as a new home page, there is a good chance spyware is involved.

In addition, some spyware will add toolbars to your internet browser that you don’t remember downloading or adding. Some spyware comes in the form of hardware rather than software, as some companies will give away new keyboards that contain spyware internally. Finally, increasingly slow performance may indicate that spyware is taking memory from your computer, reducing speed and performance.

Spyware is difficult to remove by nature. Software makers who produce spyware are good at hiding files so that many times the user doesn’t even realize that the spyware is on the computer. Once the spyware is detected, removing it can prove even more difficult. Many Internet Service Providers are including anti-virus and anti-spyware software in their standard Internet service, reducing the likelihood of spyware causing problems today compared to in the past. Microsoft’s Vista operating system also comes with a program called “Windows Defender” to help deal with unwanted spyware. This program can be downloaded for free for XP users.

If you know that spyware exists on your computer, some can be removed simply by visiting the “Add/Remove Programs” screen and deleting programs that are unfamiliar or unnecessary. Most spyware is hidden more effectively than that, however, and a software solution needs to be purchased to deal with the spyware and eliminate the problem completely. Most of the major anti-virus software makers have programs that specialize in spyware. There are also free downloads online, however these are generally less effective and may actually install more spyware on your computer.

Some of the programs that are most well known for handling spyware problems include Ad-Aware, eTrust Pest-Patrol Anti-Spyware, and Spybot Search and Destroy. With spyware, it’s essential to download security patches and updates as they become available to guard against new spyware threats. Some spyware is programmed to disable anti-virus software so that it can run undetected, so it’s important to stay vigilant in keeping unwelcome spyware off of your computer.

What is a Firewall?

One of the most basic and important elements of Internet security is to have a firewall in place. A firewall is essentially a barrier that protects a computer from being accessed by other Internet users. In today’s world, one in six people has Internet access, and the technology that allows users in Beijing, New York, Paris, Sydney, and just about everywhere else is amazing. Unfortunately, there are also destructive forces online that seek to enter computers connected to a network in a search for information or to plant software that can do great harm to a computer. As Internet use becomes an even bigger part of life, the use of firewalls to protect systems from unwanted, outside access is more important now than ever before.

A firewall can be either an actual hardware device or software placed on a computer. Its job is to be a filter and only allow information through that meets the standards and requirements set by the user. Incoming data that does not meet the guidelines set forth is not allowed into the system. While this may restrict users from accessing some information, its primary function is to protect users from potentially harmful intrusion into their computer.

There are several types of Internet users that should use firewalls. Individuals with a computer connected to the Internet should have firewall protection, especially those with high speed DSL or cable lines allowing their computer to stay online at all times. Most Internet Service Providers have basic firewalls in place already to keep unfriendly visitors away. Firewalls are also used very often in business. Companies that want to control the types of information that can be accessed or transmitted from their company network can do so by adjusting firewall settings. While employees may complain about the restricted access to information, the company is acting responsibly by controlling the flow of information within their network of computers.

Firewalls work in a few different ways. The most common method is for information that is attempting to be accessed to be divided into “packets” and filtered, looking for keywords, IP addresses, or domain names that are not allowed in the system. Firewalls also look for packets of information that could contain viruses, spyware, or other potentially harmful programs, and blocks suspicious information from gaining access to the network. There are different levels of security that can be set on a firewall, from blocking literally everything to turning the firewall off and letting all information flow freely. Each user needs to determine for themselves an appropriate level of filtering and protection.

There are several types of attacks the firewalls protect against. Some of the more common problems that are avoided include remote login, denial of service attacks, viruses, and spam. The use of a firewall on its own should not be considered a reliable defense against these types of problems, but it’s a great first step. Using reliable anti-virus software and practicing safe computer habits in conjunction with a firewall will help to keep users out of trouble.

Spotting A Hoax Virus Warning

One of the problems with the detection and elimination of computer viruses is that there are many hoax viruses that exist that make computer users believe that legitimate virus threats are also hoaxes. Thousands of e-mails are sent from one person to another everyday warning of new computer viruses and how they are contracted. Many of these warnings are the equivalent of “crying wolf” to computer users, and the problem is that once enough hoaxes have been passed along, users begin to automatically dismiss all warnings of viruses as hoaxes.

Part of the problem with virus hoaxes is that many computer users pass them to their entire contact list before checking the legitimacy of the message. There are several websites devoted to exposing hoax viruses in an effort to stop the spread of false information and help people to focus on viruses that are real threats.

Another problem with hoax virus alerts is that many computer users spend a great deal of time checking their system and deleting questionable files for a virus that is nothing more than a rumor. Network administrators may shut down entire networks, rendering thousands of computers useless while they check the validity of a virus hoax. Again, a quick check of one of several websites can quickly determine whether or not a virus warning is legitimate.

There are several well known virus hoaxes that have been circulating for years. Chances are, you may have received messages with warnings related to these hoaxes at one time or another.

One famous hoax is the Budweiser Frogs Screensaver Hoax, an e-mail claiming that downloading the screensaver would steal all usernames and passwords and erase the user’s entire hard drive.

One of the oldest and most well known virus hoaxes originated in 1994 and is called the “Good Times” Virus Hoax. The e-mail would warn recipients that any e-mail with the phrase “good times” in the subject line would expose the computer to a virus if the e-mail was opened. Users were told to delete the e-mail without opening it.

There are a few ways to make sure that users don’t waste time and energy on virus hoaxes. First, common sense and reason should be enough for a computer user not to worry about outrageous warnings. Some virus hoaxes claim that opening certain E-mails will, for example, cause a computer to “explode.” There is no known virus that will cause a computer explosion, but some users waste their own time and their recipient’s time spreading concerns such as this.

Many of the virus hoaxes that are sent to E-mail boxes are sent by spammers who are simply flooding the Internet with as much useless garbage as possible. Hackers are getting more creative every day, and an effective virus hoax can be nearly as crippling to a computer network as a legitimate virus. The best policy is to have effective anti-virus software, trust that software, and do your part to stop the spread hoax virus E-mails.

Free Identity Theft Protection Handbook

If you’re concerned about identity theft over the internet (and everyone who uses the net should be!) you can download a free ebook by Todd Feinman called “Scared Safe: Life’s Little Identity Protection Handbook”.

It covers a lot of information that everyone who’s online should be aware of.

You can get more information and download the book from here:

Free e-book: “Scared Safe: Life’s Little Identity Theft Protection Handbook”

Link http://www.net-security.org/secworld.php?id=6219

The 6 Most Common Internet Security Issues

One of the most important things you can do if you connect to the Internet at all is to make sure that you have internet security in place. Internet security leads to prevention of several problems that can harm or even destroy your data. Some of the security issues for Internet users to be aware of include:

- Hackers: Hackers are users who work to find loopholes in Internet security systems and exploit those loopholes. Their intentions could be anything from a desire to copy confidential information to generally just trying to cause trouble. Regardless of a hacker’s purpose, Internet users are at risk and should ensure that they safeguard their computer and personal information.

- Viruses: Viruses are computer programs designed to infiltrate unsuspecting user computers, replicate themselves, spread to other computers, destroy data, and interfere with the operation of your computer. Viruses are most commonly spread through attachments in E-mails, instant messages, or other downloads.

- Spyware: Spyware is software that plants itself on your computer and collects personal information, usually for the purpose of targeting advertising. Adware is spyware that allows advertisements to pop up on your screen based on the information it has gathered from your hard drive. Not all spyware is harmful, but it generally ends up on your computer without your consent and users need to be aware of it, as it can disrupt your computer’s performance.

- Worms: A worm is a program that replicates itself and sends itself to other computers on your network, usually undetected. While a virus has to attach itself to an existing program, a worm does not–it can replicate and spread on its own. Worms can shut down computer function because of the bandwidth they use.

- Phishing Scams: Phishing is essentially tricking a computer user into giving away valuable personal information such as bank account numbers, social security numbers, and credit card numbers. In a phishing scam, the user may receive an E-mail that appears to be sent from their bank asking for the user to confirm personal information. The goal of a phishing scam is to use this information against the victim of the scan.

- Spam: Spamming is the act of sending messages to multiple users indiscriminately in an attempt to flood the Internet with advertising or other information. While spam itself will not likely harm your computer, it can be a nuisance and distraction from the web content you’re really looking for. It’s also easy to hide viruses in links provided through spam messages.

There are ways to protect yourself from the above internet security issues. First, make sure that your computer is equipped with anti-virus software to detect and eliminate security issues. Second, make passwords difficult to guess and change your passwords often. Third, install updates as they become available. Finally, be smart about your online activities. Refuse to click on links that are from unfamiliar or suspicious sources. These issues can be hard to detect, but the available security measures should take care of most issues.

Parents - Do Your Kids Have Their Own Website?

There are more and more kids getting their own websites these days. Whether it’s for a blog, learning how to design websites or even for budding internet business moguls, it’s getting more and more common.

But if you’re thinking of registering a website for your kids, there are a couple of things you need to consider.

First, when you register a domain (”domain” in www.domain.com) you need to enter the contact information of the person registering it. This includes an address, full name, phone number and email address.

This information is publicly available to anyone who wants to look it up, so it’s important that you either use an office address, a post office box or some kind of privacy protection. Otherwise anyone can look up the full name and address of who owns the site. Whether it’s in your name or your child’s, they can be tracked down with that information if it’s your home address & phone number.

Most domain registrars offer privacy protection that will shield that information from being viewed publicly. Some charge a couple of dollars extra for the service while others include it automatically.

Second, if you’ve already registered a domain with personal information you can change it through your domain registrar. But you need to be aware that the historical information will always be available to anyone willing to pay to get it. It’s not expensive ($15-$30) to get this service, and there’s nothing you can do to block it.

Even if you add privacy protection now, the historical data is already stored.

I came across a website today that was being run by a 12 year old boy. He had put a lot of work into it, and was doing a great job of it. But on one of the pages he specifically said that his parents wouldn’t let him post his last name because of the risks that can come from the internet.

At the same time, the website was registered in his name with his home address, phone number and email address out there for anyone who knows how to find it.

All the effort his parents went to to protect him was out the window from the start.

You always, always need to remember that once information is “out there” on the internet, it’s next to impossible to get it back. Make sure you’re safe in the first place.