Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Safe Internet Behavior

Dear Friends - This is a Public Service Announcement for safe Internet behavior.  I work in high tech and my company does a good job of teaching us to use the Internet safely.  I want to pass along some best practices.

#1 - Don't shop or check your bank statements while using public wifi (e.g., from Starbuck's or the library).  Save the online shopping for when you are connected to a private network.  And make sure that your home wifi is password protected!

#2 - Only enter your personal information and credit card info at websites that start with https:// That "s" on the end of the string stands for "secure" and is really important.

#3 - Beware of holiday spam.  Unfortunately, many e-greetings come with hidden malware.  Watch out for spoofs (see #4) and avoid email pleas for donations (see #5).  I sound a little like the Grinch here - but please use caution with those "forward" e-mails that direct you to click on a link. While you may be taken to a funny video, you may also be downloading malware.  I don't click any link from a funny/forward email unless I personally know the original source of the website (and that's rare).

#4 - Never, ever, ever click a link that looks suspicious.  For example, you may receive an email out of the blue that looks like it's from a friend, but says only, "Check this out!" and points you to a link.  STOP!!  Don't click that link.  Instead, send a fresh (not a reply) email to your friend and ask if she intended to send you a link. 

#5 - When donating money, go straight to the charity's website (e.g., www.redcross.com) rather than clicking on links in an email or website sidebar. 

#6 - Don't tell the world or all of your Facebook friends that you're going to be out of town.  It's great to wax poetic after you've returned, but don't advertise in advance.

#7 - Check your social media privacy settings.  I've noticed that Facebook changes things a lot and I'm regularly needing to re-set my privacy settings to more stringent choices.  Make this a regular habit. 

#8 - Keep your virus protection software up to date.

#9 - Regularly check for spyware.  (I like the Spybot product and it's free.)

#10 - Accept Facebook Friend invitations with caution.  I only accept friends from people I know well, and I only do this from within Facebook itself after I've logged in with my password.  I do not accept them from email (see #4).  Facebook emails can be spoofed, so it's best to do your business within the application.

Got any other tips to share?


Antiques And Teacups said...

Excellent points!Well done! We all need reminders...

Marilyn said...

Thanks, Steph!
Though we know many of these things sometimes I have missed something and slipped. It is good to have the reminder.

Linda at Friendship Tea said...

Thanks so much!!

The Teaist said...

Thanks! Good stuff!

I'd also be very careful with accepting/installing random facebook apps that require a download of your personal data. Just don't. It's not worth it.

With Google+ (including Blogger!) make sure that you lock down all your settings on the most private option if your privacy is important to you. Google logs your browsing data as well.

Many of these are security issues but some of these are also privacy issues. Do you really want to be tracked in everything you do online?

A good rule of thumb that I use is that I consider EVERYTHING I say on the internet as if I am announcing it on the public square WITHOUT the ability to retract or erase my words. Steph's followers won't need this advice coz you're all a nice bunch, but words are powerful things and so be careful with the words you speak. I never get truly personal on facebook. And when I blog, I keep personal data hidden.

Regarding blogging: especially if you like sharing piccies of your personal life, make sure to keep personal data under lock and key so that people (including burglars!) can't track you down.

Steph, you're not the only Grinch here :)

All the best!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for those great tips!

Beth said...

Thanks for these tips, Steph. One thing I have wondered is why I get so much email that is spam - how do the spammers get my email address? Of note, I get very little spam at the email site associated with my blog, but lots at my other site. I do know not to open and click, but nonetheless these are a pain.

loralie said...

thanks for the reminders. it's easy to get lax on our precautions.

Angela McRae said...

Excellent, Steph! Since I work in a newsroom, I have learned to just look for some new scam victim to call up every year around the holidays. Older folks, in particular, will a) think they've won a prize b) want to donate to that nice policeman's organization or c) wonder why they've been told they need to update their Social Security info. I am super skeptical about any unsolicited e-mail, spam, etc., and I think it's GREAT to advise others to be wary as well. The crooks keep coming up with new ways to do their deeds. If only they would use their powers for good!

Steph said...

Dear Beth - When you do business on the internet, your email address gets captured and sometimes sold. I have two email addresses...my personal one and one I use only for online business. This greatly reduces the amount of spam to my personal email.

It's a frustrating problem!