Brockville - Safe Community
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Safety Information: Internet

TIPS FOR BEING SAFE ON THE INTERNET

Make sure that the computer in your home is in plain view at all times when your children are using it.

Talk to your children about what they are doing on the Internet.

Become more computer literate. In today's day and age the children are learning about computers and most parents barely know how to turn one on. Get to know your computer, even have your kids teach you a little, it will be time well spent with your kids.

Use blocking programs for internet use, such as NetNanny or CyberPatrol.

Be on the lookout for the screen to change suddenly when you approach the computer.

Note: Street proof your children on the Internet the same way you street proof your children in your community.

You notice the screen changes when you walk in or show attention to your child while he/she is on the Internet.

Your child is on the Internet at odd hours early morning or late at night.

Top 10 Internet Safety Tips – for Home and Business
(Because of the importance of all of these items, they are not in any special sequence.)

  • Just like television, have the family computer in a common area of your home. This encourages parents to be involved in their children’s’ computer activities, while maintaining a safe environment for internet use. This also discourages potential dangers like inappropriate websites, internet chat with possibly dangerous people and the theft of intellectual property.
  • Be careful with your email. Be careful with email messages and attachments. If you are unsure about an email message you receive, delete the message, or ask yourself the following questions:
    • Do I really know who sent this message to me? It could be SPAM, or maybe a virus sending itself to you. If unsure, pick up the phone and call the person you think may have sent the message to you.
    • Did they send an attachment? What is it? Is it a joke? Is it a photo? Does this person usually send me things like this? If you know who the message is from, but they do not describe the email attachment in a means that is clear to you, then simply verify the contents by calling the person who sent the message to you.
    • Never reply to an email message requesting personal information like your home address, phone number, your full name or any financial information. This is just like placing this information on a billboard for all to see. Financial institutions and online retailers will never request passwords, personal or financial information in the form of an email message. Also – be careful when clicking on a link in an email message. What you appear to be clicking on may not be what you are accessing.
  • Use an internet router. By placing a router between your computer and the internet, it acts just like a deadbolt on your front door in that it keeps hackers out of your system helping to protect your data and your personal information. Routers can be found at several computer and electronics stores for around $35. Firewalls are similar products with far more customizable features. Businesses may require a firewall to run some of their complex business computer programs safely and securely. These can cost significantly more, depending on the features required.
  • Keep your computer up to date. Many computer programs like Microsoft Windows XP, Word, Excel and many games are always changing to keep up with the latest trends in technology, or more importantly to keep up with the latest known vulnerabilities in a program. By downloading updates for your programs, not only do you get access to the latest features in your programs, but you also maintain a safe practice of patching any security holes discovered by the hacking community, and thus repaired by the software company. Updates for most programs are free of charge, and are easily obtained through a software company’s web site, or through an automated tool within the software itself.
  • Spyware and computer viruses are being written with the goal of making your computing experience downright miserable. From causing freeze-ups and random rebooting to logging keystrokes and copying screen shots of your computer activity, their presence can cause a great amount of damage to you, your finances and your credit rating. Viruses can be prevented with a wide range of anti-virus software programs ranging from $30 to $70 in many retailers, with some free versions also available on the internet. Spyware, often in the form of pop-ups, can be removed by using a number of free anti-spyware programs available for free on the internet. Be sure that your antivirus and anti-spyware software programs are up to date, just like all of your other software too.
  • SPAM is a lot like receiving junk mail. It is not something you asked for, and it just keeps coming back again and again. Many hackers and online marketers collect and randomly generate email address lists, and then sell these lists to online retailers, who in turn send you unsolicited email, known as SPAM. SPAM can be avoided by paying for an anti-spam service from your internet provider, around $6 per month, or by purchasing a commercial anti-spam software product for about $50. Either way, you will not see unsolicited email messages from those who try and sell you something. You will also avoid receiving messages from viruses that send themselves around the internet.
  • Use strong passwords, protect them, and change them regularly.
    Strong passwords have at least eight characters. Include letters, numbers, and symbols that are easy for you to remember but tough for others to guess. One trick to creating a secure password is to use a combination of the program or website that the password is for, along with some key letters in a word that you know you can remember. For example, to have a secure password for your online banking that is easy for you to use and remember, try the following:
    • Say for example the bank site is named The Funds Bank.
    • Your first car in high school was an AMC Pacer.
    • Tie the 2 words together in a fashion only you can recognize. For example, try creating a password that uses the first letter of the bank’s name and then the last letter of your former dream car. Then move on to the next letter in each word, until you hit 8 characters. By, following this personal pattern, the password would be fruencda. This password is not guessable, is easy to figure out when you need it, and will be different than other passwords you use for other web sites or programs.
  • Maintain an open and supportive relationship with your children when it comes to using the home computer on the internet. Several products and services are available that can filter out websites containing pornography, violent or malicious content, and can even restrict the hours that the internet is made available to your children. Though these tools work at protecting your children while online unattended, it is no substitution for making sure that your children know that they can approach their parents with questions or concerns about material they see on the internet that may make them uncomfortable, or may steer them down a wrong path. Parents need to be careful not to damage the trust that kids feel they have from their parents, especially teens.
  • Be guarded about giving out your personal information online. Offering your name, phone number and address to a website can mark the start of a thief’s trail to stealing your identity, your money from your bank account and your credit. Look for a small padlock in the lower right corner of your web browser to be sure that a banking web site or online store uses encryption, meaning that your personal information is being collected and held with confidence. All reputable vendors and financial institutions will have a privacy policy or privacy statement that indicates in plain English how your personal information will be used, and protected.
  • Wireless networks in your home or small business can offer a great degree of convenience, and can save on having to run cables throughout a house or office. It is important to realize that wireless also some serious security concerns. Wireless can be added to your home or business computers by adding a wireless router or a wireless access point, known as 802.11 A, B or G. These devices cost around $50 and are available at many computer and electronics retailers.
  • The main security concern stems from what is known as wardriving – hackers who drive around neighbourhoods looking for wireless connections in homes and business in an attempt to intercept wireless network traffic that is unencrypted. When you purchase and install a router in your home or office, it has encryption turned off. It is essential that the router’s password is changed from the factory default (used for making changes to the router) and that encryption be turned on. Approximately 60% of all wireless connections in home and businesses are unknowingly not encrypted. This will significantly reduce the risk of your wireless data being intercepted and used for other purposes, like stealing your passwords, copying your personal information or even to the extent of fraud crimes being conducted on your internet connection. This is a criminal act and if you suspect that someone is ‘stealing’ your signal, you should report it to the police.

For further Internet Safety tips visit Be Web Aware.