With the use of computers and the internet comes certain threats. If you are going to be active on the internet or in email or even if you will be only somewhat active when accessing email and the internet you should take steps to protect yourself. Two of the biggest threats right now are Virus’s and Identity/Account Theft. Below are a few simple steps you can take to protect yourself.
1. Never give out personal information via email.
2. Be extremely cautious when being asked to click on any links sent to you in email. Even if it is sent from someone you know.
3. Your bank will not send you an email asking for your bank account information or your social security number. They already have this information. If you get this type of email delete it. If you are unsure and think the email might be valid, double check by contacting your bank by phone.
4. If you get an email asking for money from someone you do not know—delete the email. No matter what the horrible story is that they are telling you, these predators use the sympathy card and try to pull at your heart strings.
5. Keep your computer antivirus software up to date. I can’t stress this one enough. It is not good enough in this day and age to only have the software on your pc. Hundreds of new viruses, if not thousands, come out weekly and even daily. Your antivirus software is continuously being updated to catch all of the new virus’s that are out there. If your software is behind, you are opening the door to trouble.
Social Networking Site Safety
1. If you are on social networking sites—be careful the “surveys” you take asking you to fill out harmless questions for fun. A lot of times these answers are used to gather information that could possibly be things you use for passwords or challenge questions on different websites. If you give this information out "they" can reset your password for online banking or various credit cards. One of the common surveys being sent around— 20 things you don’t know about me is a perfect example — a lot of the answers are—birthday, where you were born, favorite color, first car you’ve ever owned. All of these questions are used as security questions on a lot of sites in order to change your password or verify you are the "account" holder.
2. Never post when you will be leaving town or will be gone from your house for any extended period. There are people who take advantage of the Social sites looking for vacant homes so they can break into the house. Even posting that your husband or wife is gone for the night is a safety risk.
3. Try not to list your entire birthdate on the site with the month, day, and year. You want to cherish your personal information. Specific information such as your entire birthdate, address, full name, spouses name, etc … are all things that can be used to steal your identity.
4. Do not accept people you do not know at all or even those you do not know very well. My rule of thumb is if I don’t know the person well enough to communicated often with them, then I don’t add them to my friends list.
5. Protect your childrens information. I am guilty of this one. You are a proud parent and you want to post a list of your children on the site. Their ages, birthdates, activities etc … This is especially dangerous if you do not carefully watch which friends you accept to your account. Kid Identity Theft is out there now as well as adult identity theft. As parents we need to protect their identities as we would our own.
There are many more ways to protect yourself and still enjoy the technology at hand, the items above will give you a good foundation and the most important way I have found is to use common sense and keep your eyes open.