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Thread: --How to Keep your Information Safe Online--

  1. #1
    ~HOPES AND DREAMS~ Elite Trainer
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    Asilynne's Avatar
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    Sep 2002
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    Default --How to Keep your Information Safe Online--

    Due to the recent hacking it has come to my attention that many people take their internet security for granted. They know that hacking occurs, but like most people, never really think it will happen to them. So I think the members of TPM, young and old alike, would benefit from a few simple tips on keeping your internet browsing safe and fun.

    --General Web Safety--

    Being safe online starts with how you browse--your computer. This is the first line of safety online, because if your computer is unsecured, a hacker could gain access to it and use it to harm others. Or, your accounts can be stolen through keylogging; which is the covert tracking of keys struck on a keyboard. Passwords can be stolen through keylogging, as well as other sensitive information. Besides that, viruses, Trojans and spyware can also sneak into your computer through various means, even with average browsing.

    What can you do to protect your computer?

    ~Set up a firewall- Firewalls are like the Cell Walls of plant cells, they either allow or block things from moving within the cell (or in this case, your computer). Firewalls will block things that pose a threat to your computer, therefore keeping your computer safer from harm. Microsoft Firewall FAQ, for more info about Firewalls

    ~Be mindful of what links you click online- If you clicked on the above link without looking carefully, you may be guilty of a habit which could be dangerous for your computer. Throughout your internet browser you will have many links shared with you, but not all are safe. While some good anti-virus, anti-spyware, or firewall programs will warn you when a site is not legit, you can't just rely on them for your own safety. Be sure to check the link URL carefully to make sure you are going to the site you meant to, especially before logging in. And NEVER trust a strange site, even if it is posted by a friend. That friendís account may have been compromised, and could be sending out bad links to infect more people. ALWAYS check the URL of every site first! The site above is safe, but don't take my word for it, check the URL

    ~Get one or more anti-virus software installed- This might be an obvious answer, but it is often taken for granted. Just because you have a firewall doesn't mean your computer is absolutely safe, when things do get in, itís useful to have an antivirus program running interference for you. You may have a virus on your computer and not even realise it until itís too late. While one is necessary, having two is even better, because some viruses are programmed to evade the more popular antivirus programs. Also, always download antivirus software with care; make sure they are legit before allowing them on your computer. The web is full of ads proclaiming free virus scanning, but don't fall for them. Always get your antivirus software from a store or a reputable site. This also goes for Anti-spyware software.

    ~Be careful of what you download and from where- This is a huge safety issue online, because viruses, spyware and keyloggers could be disguised as useful programs so you will willingly download and install them to your systems. Always scan programs before downloading or installing, and only download them from reputable sites that are known for their safety. Just as before, pay attention to the URL, if you are trying to download a program like Skype, make sure you are downloading it from the official site. There could be a site out there trying to look like it is official and offering a download for Skype, but could actually be harboring a harmful program. Pay attention, and when in doubt, donít download.

    óAccount Safety--

    Nowadays, people do just about everything online. People use the internet for many things; banking, shopping, talking to friends, researching for school, networking, or getting feedback for your writing, art, or other skills. In order to do these things online it is almost always required to have an account, and to have an account it is required to have an email. Keeping these two things safe is vital in maintaining your safety online.

    How can I keep my accounts and emails safe?

    ~Keep your passwords secure and hard-to-guess- It goes beyond making sure your password isn't "Password". A truly safe password is something that even your friends wouldn't guess, something with both CAPS and lowercase, and a combination of letters, numbers, and if it is allowed, symbols. It should not EVER be shared online, not even in an email to a friend, and I would advise it to never be shared with anyone regardless. It might be fun to switch MSN accounts to play around, or easier to ask a friend or family member to check your email for you, but it should never be done. Even if you trust the person, their computer may not be secure, and you run the risk of your account being compromised. Also, rotate your passwords frequently. Donít wait until you get hacked to change it up, make it a habit to change it like you would your oil, once every three months.

    ~Have more than one email address- Even if you donít use them for actual emailing purposes, it is useful and smart to have more than one. The saying ĎDonít keep all your eggs in one basketí definitely applies to accounts and emails, if you have your Facebook, bank, PayPal, instant messenger service, and all your forum accounts tied into one email, and that email gets hacked, then they will have access to everything in your online life, and can cause a great deal of damage (not to mention the ability to steal your RL money). Itís a good idea to have a secured email for private use and important accounts like banking and Facebook, another email for Windows Live, one for forum accounts and a Ďthrowawayí email for newsletters and mailing lists. If you notice you are getting a lot of spam, change your email. Itís hard to abandon an email you like, but itís better to do that than to leave yourself open to potentially get a harmful email.

    ~Do not open suspicious emails - Suspicious is hard to clearly define. But if you donít recognize the sender, donít open it. Emails may contain programs that could harm your computer, even just by opening it. Even an innocent looking one from a friend could be harmful, or may contain a link that will send you to a harmful website. Be wary, not paranoid though, Iím not saying donít trust your friends. But if you see a message without a title from a friend you havenít heard from in a while, itís possible their account could be compromised. Web Email services such as Gmail allow you to see a brief snippet of the content of the message, so even if there is no Subject line, it can help you see more of the email without opening it. And rememberóif it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. For more about email safety, click here.

    ~Never share accounts, and log out completely- This is something that trusting individuals may take for granted. Some people may use shared computers to log in, and these may not be as safe as they could be, so even if your personal computer is secure, your friendís might not be. If your computer is shared with multiple people, itís preferred if each person has their own log in and password for that computer to avoid anyone else having access to your account info. Always log out completely in shared computers as well, and donít check the box to save account name and password. If you need to have a written copy of your online accounts and passwords, keep it in a safe place irl, such as a locked box or inside a secret book in your room. DONíT save it in a word file on your computer. Treat your account names and passwords like they are your social security number; donít give them out to anyone.

    What you do online, even if it is deleted, should be treated as though it were permanent. Never say anything in an email or online that you donít want staying around for anyone to see for many years to come. A person with the right skills could retrieve something long deleted, so always be mindful of your actions online. Remember, YOU are your first line of defense online, preventing a possible breach of security is a lot easier than dealing with the consequences later. And while it is in no way the victimís fault they were targeted, by taking the proper steps you can insure that you will not be an easy target.

    This is by no means a complete list of safety tips, if you have any suggestions of what to add, please feel free

    .: Ben + Brandy :.
    .: September 14th 2012 :.

  2. #2
    Dragon Tamer Administrator
    Lady Vulpix's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    34.625 S, 58.50595 W (Buenos Aires, Argentina)

    Default Re: --How to Keep your Information Safe Online--

    Thanks, Asi.

    Some more tips:

    1. Do not use the same password for everything. Especially, do not use the same password for an e-mail account and anything else that is linked to that e-mail (forums, Facebook, AIM, MSN, etc.).

    2. If you have registered somewhere with an e-mail you no longer use, update your profile and change your e-mail for one you're currently using. Otherwise someone may register your old e-mail and gain access to your account.

    3. Never use two firewalls or two anti-virus programs at the same time. They can interfere with each other and make your system more vulnerable.

    4. Never click on unknown links nor open unknown e-mail attachments, even if a friend is sending them to you. Their e-mail may be compromised. If someone you know sends you a mysterious file or link, ask them what it is before you open it, and make sure you get an answer from that person and not from a machine (it's usually easy to tell, machines tend to say vague things like "it's cool, just try it out" and never give a real explanation).

    5. Your e-mail provider will never ask you to e-mail them your password, nor will the authorities of any message board or social network. If you get a message asking for your password, it's a scam. Asi has already said it, but it can't be emphasized too much. NEVER give your password to anyone.

    6. Don't store all your passwords on a plain text file, let alone on an online server. Try to use passwords you can remember (it defeats the purpose of having a good password if a hacker can find it more easily than you can recall it). Not a dictionary word nor anything that anyone can associate with you, but something you can recall - for example using a mnemonic rule. If you're not going to use that password frequently and need some kind of reminder for the next time you use it, write something that will help you remember but will be meaningless to anyone else who finds it.

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