Online Safety Information
Use Cyber Street-Smarts
- Use a gender-neutral username/email address.
- Use a free email account such as Hotmail or Yahoo for newsgroups/mailing lists, chatrooms,
IMs, emails from strangers, message boards, filling out forms and other online activities.
- Don't give your primary email address to anyone you do not know or trust (see above).
- Don't provide your credit card number or other information as proof of age to access
or subscribe to a website you aren't familiar with.
- Before "speaking" or posting messages on newsgroups, mailing lists and chatrooms be
familiar with the content and demographic.
- Don't be so trusting online - don't reveal personal things about yourself until you
really and truly sure that you know the other person.
- Your first instinct may be to defend yourself - DON'T - this is how most online harassment
- If it looks too good to be true - it probably is.
Virus Detecton and Prevention Tips
Do not open any files attached to an email from an unknown, suspicious or untrustworthy source.
Do not open any files attached to an email unless you know what it is, even if it appears to
come from a dear friend or someone you know. Some viruses can replicate themselves
and spread through email. Better be safe than sorry and confirm that they really meant
to send it.
Do not open any files attached to an email if the subject line is questionable or unexpected.
Delete chain emails and junk email. Do not forward or reply to any of them. These types of email are considered spam,
which is unsolicited, intrusive mail that clogs up the network. Many people with bad
intentions send junk email looking for valid email addresses to test their virus-wares
on. And if you reply to this junk mail you could become their next target.
Do not download any files from strangers.
Exercise caution when downloading files from the Internet. Ensure that the source is a legitimate
and reputable one. Verify that an anti-virus program checks the files on the download
site. If you're uncertain, don't download the file at all or download the file to
a CD and test it with your own anti-virus software.
Update your anti-virus software regularly. Over 200 viruses are discovered each month, so you'll want to be protected.
Back up your important files on a regular basis. If a virus destroys your files, at least you can replace them with your back-up
- When in doubt, always error on the side of caution and do not open, download, or execute any files or email attachments.
What is Spyware?
"Spyware comes in various forms, but basically it is a program or piece of information
on your computer that sends data about you or your computer habits to someone else
on the Internet. Spyware can also be a program that places unwanted ads on your computer.
Cookies can be considered spyware. They are little piece of information placed in
your web browser to track your web habits. This is useful sometimes as a web site
can see you have visited it before and let you on without a registration process.
Cookies are also used to keep track of your progress through a web store. They are
also used to customize website ads to your likes and dislikes."
Why is Spyware Bad?
"For one it can hog precious system resources like memory and hard disk space. It
can also compromise your privacy, providing outsiders with information about your
computer habits. If a spyware program installs a keylogger it can capture your keystrokes
and send it to a third party. This can potentially expose your user IDs and passwords
to thieves Some spyware are trojans which allows someone to log into your computer
remotely and use it for their own purposes like sending spam or launching malicious
attacks on other computers on the Internet, making it look like you are at fault."
Are Macintosh Computers Affected by Spyware?
While the potential does exist for Macs to be infected, very few programs are written
to infect Macs.
How Can I Prevent Spyware?
"There are a few things you can do. Don't download programs by companies you are not
familiar with. Avoid shareware and freeware. Don't download illegal pirated software.
Set your browser security to HIGH. On Internet Explorer, click Tools > Internet Options
> then the Security tab and move the slider to MEDIUM or preferably HIGH. The only problem with this is it may block access to some websites you want to see.Ultimately your best bet is to get an anti-spyware program and scan your system regularly."
Some popular programs that are known to distribute/attract Spyware when installed
are Gator, OfferCompanion, Trickler, AudioGalaxy, Gain, ShopAtHomeSelect, Marketscore
Activity, and HotBar Activity. There are many, many more. Often, these pirates are
given permission to load spyware on your computer when you agree to their license
the "legal stuff" before clicking on the "I agree" button.
Additionally, it is important to know that Microsoft products (due to their popularity
and high use) are the number one target of cyber-terrorists. At least currently (this
could change in the future as other web browsers become more popular) selecting a
web browser other than Internet Explorer can help to minimize some types of Spyware.
One browser alternative is FireFox. It can be downloaded from this site:
How do I get Spyware off of my computer?
Software similar to anti-virus software is available to clean these invaders off of
HOWEVER.....most anti-spyware software does not run in "realtime" like anti-virus
software does. You need to run scans to detect and delete Spyware periodically.
How often depends on how much you use the Internet. It's relatively quick, so a minimum
of weekly is recommended (but daily would be GREAT!!)
Additionally, you also need to update the "definitions" that these products use to
detect Spyware. By default, some anti-spyware software is set to remind you to update
the definitions every 14 days. As long as you open the software periodically, you
will get the reminder, and can just click on the "Get Updates" button.
There are downloadable products available for you to use onyour PC. Some are free
(possibly with fewer "bells & whistles" than products you pay for) that can help rid
your computer of spyware that may currently be running and help to keep it safe in
the future. Here are links to a couple that have reported good success:
Lavasoft Ad-Aware SE
Spybot Search and Destroy
What is Phishing?
Phishing is a scam where Internet fraudsters send spam (e-mail) or pop-up messages
to lure personal and financial information from unsuspecting victims. To avoid getting
- Don't reply to email or pop-up messages that ask for personal or financial information,
and don't click on links in the message. Don't cut and paste a link from the message
into your Web browser — phishers can make links look like they go one place, but that
actually send you to a different site.
- Some scammers send an email that appears to be from a legitimate business and ask
you to call a phone number to update your account or access a "refund." Because they
use Voice over Internet Protocol technology, the area code you call does not reflect where the scammers really are. If you need
to reach an organization you do business with, call the number on your financial statements
or on the back of your credit card.
- Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, as well as a firewall, and update them all
- Don't email personal or financial information.
- Review credit card and bank account statements as soon as you receive them to check
for unauthorized charges.
- Be cautious about opening any attachment or downloading any files from emails you
receive, regardless of who sent them.
- Forward phishing emails to firstname.lastname@example.org – and to the company, bank, or organization impersonated in the phishing email. You
also may report phishing email to email@example.com. The Anti-Phishing Working Group, a consortium of ISPs, security vendors, financial
institutions and law enforcement agencies, uses these reports to fight phishing.
- If you've been scammed, visit the Federal Trade Commission's Identity Theft website
For more information please visit: http://www.onguardonline.gov/topics/phishing.aspx
National Fraud Information Center
Net Crimes & MisdemeanorsSafety Ed International
W.H.O.A. (Working to Halt Online Abuse)