- Internet & the Web
Tips for Safe Surfing
Safely Surfing the Internet
I started with computers back in the early '80's. I've just been intrigued by them since their inception. But in all the years since I've been getting on the internet, I've never accidentally stumbled across an objectionable site, and I don't use any kind of screening software.Plus, I've only had one or two viruses in all these years (I DO use a virus scanner) A lot of people ask "How?" But it's really not that difficult. Try these few tips and see if they work for you.
Sometimes they use worms and they most often use bait!
If you have an e-mail account and aren't familiar with the word "phishing," you are in danger. Phishing refers to people pretending to be someone from PayPal or a credit card company. They may tell you they are from a bank, your insurance company, collection agency, an e-mail or internet provider or a rich widow trying to get her wealth into another country. This is the bait.
If these people can convince you they are already doing business with you, it's very likely you'll give them all of the information they ask for. And with those details, they can access your online accounts or worse, steal your identity.These predators will attempt to contact you by phone or e-mail. They may already have your credit card number and ask for your birthdate or Social Security Number in order to verify your identity.
There's a good chance they'll include a link in an e-mail that will take you to a webpage that looks EXACTLY like your bank account or PayPal page. It will ask for your username and password. After you enter this info, it won't take you into your account (obviously), but now the people who'd like to steal from you will have your login information. They'll now be able to access your accounts. This could be as inconvenient as FaceBook and MySpace or as tragic as your bank account.
Finally, these e-mails can trigger "worms," tiny scripts of computer programs, also known as viruses or bugs, that can track your keystrokes and replicate them the next time you log in to your e-mail or steal them and send the information back to the creator of the program.
E-mails with links to viruses can potentially be sent from your e-mail account to all your friends. It's important to recognize the signs of phishing and avoid the bait and the worms. This knowledge can protect both you and your friends.
So, how can you tell if the e-mail or phone call is legitimate or really a Phisher? It can be very difficult to tell the difference between a phisher and the real thing.
A phone phisher may not be able to tell you EXACTLY which card or account they are calling about. They'll ask for your complete account number or your online password or ATM PIN number. The legitimate callers already have your account number in front of them and will not ask for your password or PIN. Other scams may want you to donate to a worthy cause or political campaign. These guys will sound sincere. But don't give in to them. If you'd like to donate get an address and send a check AFTER you confirm that it's a genuine address for the organization.
Online phishers will generally come as e-mails. If you look at the FROM address, it will often be from a bogus domain. For instance, the address "anything"@paypal.net is a phishing address. PayPal's "domain" is www.paypal.com, so all of their e-mail addresses will end in @paypal.com (not .net). Phishing scams will ask you to click on a link in the e-mail or fill out a "form" attached to the message. One of the most common phishing schemes comes in the form of a letter from someone who has an estate they need to give away or get out of their home country.
Tips to help beat the phishermen
- On the phone DO NOT give the caller any information. Even if they say they have it, don't give it to them. DO NOT even confirm information. This includes your address, Social Security Number and the numbers on the back of your credit card. If you think it might be a legitimate call, get the person's name. DO NOT use a phone number they give you. OF COURSE they'll give you a number they will answer. If it's a bank or a credit card, pull out your last statement and phone the contact number listed there, then you can ask for the person who called you. If it's someone trying to get a donation, ask for a website where you can go and check out their organization. Search google for the name of the organization to be sure the website they gave you is really the official site. Once you get to the organization's website, you'll find a phone number as well as an address.- E-mail phishing can be avoided by never clicking on a link in an e-mail. Keep reading below. You'll see lots of tips to avoiding the online phishing schemes.
Stay Safe When You Open Your E-mail
When you read this, you're not going to believe it. But I really have never just stumbled on a porn site and only once did I get a popup trying to put a virus on my computer. Here are a few of my "rules" that will help you (and your children) stay safe.
- Do NOT click on links in an e-mail.Unless you are familiar with the domain name, don't click the link. If you can't see the domain name (ie: something.com) DON'T click the link. Often the link will just be hyperlinked words, like those there (you didn't click that link did you?) Seriously, don't click links unless you completely trust it - even if you trust the SENDER - be sure they actually sent the e-mail.
- But the e-mail is from a friend you trust Go back and read number one. Then if the e-mail sounds like something they may have actually written and you think they might want you to see it, you may want to click it. BUT if there's nothing conversational in the e-mail or it's a friend who is always having virus problems DO NOT CLICK THE LINK. My friends know that if they are forwarding me something they think is worth my time to look at they better put something in the body of the message to let me know it's really from them and not someone forging addresses. (Yes, people who want to give you viruses, sell you drugs and show you porn will forge e-mail addresses)
- Don't forward false e-mails Most kidnapping, warning and promises for free food and money e-mails are false. Before you forward another fake e-mail check it out at Snopes.com Some of those kids were found hours after the e-mail was sent, but they didn't have any way to stop it. You can do it! Additionally, if you read something really cute that says "forward this to nine friends or something bad will happen," do your friends a favor and delete the threats from the bottom before you forward it. Go ahead, leave the cute stuff, but get rid of the superstition.
- Do not reply to people who want to give you moneyStop and think about it. If they really had that kind of money to give away, don't you think there would be someone besides you they would give it to. DO NOT REPLY - They want your checking account number or enough info to steal your identity. Your reply will get the ball rolling and it won't take long until you're broke.
- Do not reply to e-mails to unsubscribe. Spammers collect e-mail addresses to sell them to other spammers. When you reply, you confirm that they have a good e-mail address. Legitimate e-mail will have unsubscribe instructions that generally don't include replying to the e-mail. The only time this would not be true is if you get e-mail newsletters from small organizations that you personally know. Non-profit organizations and small businesses sometimes set up e-mail lists to help build their business. If you recognize the business or organization, it should be fine to simply reply to the e-mail to unsubscribe.
- Do not click on links that appear to be from Pay Pal, E-Bay or a Bank (even if it's your bank)When you click on a link that's in a forged e-mail, it will take you to a page to get you to log in. Unfortunately, when you do, the page will take your info and use it to log into your account. Even if the link includes "paypal.com" or "ebay.com" don't click it. It can hyperlink to a site other than what the text says.If you think the e-mail is legitimate, type the web address into the address bar yourself. That way you're sure.Some additional tips from Lironah - Even some "unsubscribe' links can be bogus. They are still trying to confirm your address. If you didn't subscribe to the e-mail, it's best not to click unsubscribe. You can right click on the message (in Outlook) and mark the sender as spam. In most online e-mail readers you can also mark the message spam- Lironah has a secondary e-mail address to use online. I do too. When I'm at a site that I don't necessarily want a lot of junk mail from, I use my secondary account to sign up.Look below to find out how to surf safe.
More Steps to Safely Surf
- If a screen comes up that a virus has been detected DO NOT CLICK THE LINK - There are companies that put ads online in order to put a virus on your computer. They sneak the ad onto a legitimate site. A page will pop-up that says "a virus has been detected, click here to download the virus removal." When you click here you're actually activating the virus. It will indeed take you to a site that has virus removal software, but DON'T CLICK THE LINK. Even if you already have the virus (and you may). McAfee, Norton and AVG won't ask you to click to download software. They'll ask if you want to quarantine or remove the virus.
- Don't guess at domain names If you aren't sure, don't guess. www.whitehouse.com does not belong to the president (although I'm told it's not porn anymore), Dick's Sporting Goods does not own www.dicks.com and www.poop.com is what you might imagine I've been told. (I have friends and a husband who insist on guessing at domain names - so while I've never been to these sites, I do find out about them) Use a search engine. Type in what you want to find and use the list to find the domain you're looking for. But don't click too quickly - see rule E-mail #2 before you get too carried away.
- Read the description and the URL listed below the description Not every bold title gives you exactly what you're looking for. I know it's difficult to imagine, but people who have disgusting stuff on the internet will give a false title to their internet page. So, read the whole description. Make sure it fits exactly what you're looking for and then look at the whole URL at the bottom of the description (it's usually fine print that looks something like www.myinternetsite.com) If the Title, Description and URL don't all jive, DON'T CLICK THE LINK.
- Read several descriptions Don't click on the first link you find (in fact I avoid the paid links at the top of the page - they never lead me where I really want to go). Read several descriptions and URL's. That will help you decide which one really is the best and may help you smoke out the phony ones. If a description or a URL look a little funny DON'T CLICK THE LINK
- Don't allow children the opportunity to surf the internet unsupervised.Until your kids know the rules above and understand what a legitimate domain name looks like, stand there behind them until they find the site they're looking for. Bookmark Wikipedia and other general information sites where they might do research and insist they use the bookmarks. Learn how to check history and then check it often to make sure your computer hasn't been someplace you didn't want it to be. If they are on AIM or another instant message program, check their buddy list, and if there are any names on it you don't know, find out how your child discovered them. If necessary, report unknown contacts to the authorities.
- Learn how to check history And if you have kids, check it often. Set up some sort of disciplinary action ahead of time, and if you find they've been someplace they shouldn't have been, put the discipline in place. How to check history: In Internet Exporer 7 and 8 - There is a star at the top left corner of the screen. Click that, then click history. Take a look at least a couple of times a week.
- Stay Safe on Facebook - Facebook gives more viruses and gets more hackers than any other place I've seen online, but they can be avoided. First, be sure to have a strong password on Facebook. Second, DO NOT CLICK LINKS (I think I've heard that somewhere before). If the message is a little vague or the offer is too good to be true, DO NOT CLICK THE LINK. Internet hackers put all kinds of viruses and phishing schemes in those links. Unless you are one hundred percent positive it's a link your friend truly created, DO NOT CLICK THE LINK. If you remember that one rule, you should be able to stay pretty safe on Facebook.It's not that difficult to play it safe online. You still may run into viruses occasionally even following these rules, but for the most part, you should be able to avoid all objectionable sites and most virus.
So, go ahead, google something or ask jeeves, just be smart and play it safe. Be careful about clicking links. Surf's up!"
The cure for your virus
Because sometimes you follow all the rules and your computer STILL gets sick!
I recently got a virus. I must have visited an infected site and the sad part is, it was probably a site I frequent because I haven't been anyplace unusual lately. Fortunately, I noticed it right away so it didn't get too far. Plus, my newest son-in-law should really be someone's IT guy because he was able to give me these simple steps to cure the virus. I was back up within 24 hours (including my day at work!)
First, how did I know I had a virus?
- My computer got really draggy.- an "anti-virus" screen popped up unexpectedly (but it wasn't MY anti-virus)- When I tried to run my anti-virus, a warning box came up- When I tried to go online to google a solution, a strange "unavailable" screen came up offering to "fix" my computer.
What did I do to cure the virus?First, what I didn't do.
- I didn't click on ANY link offered by the new anti-virus
And here's the cure:
- Restart your computer in "SafeMode" (When your computer is rebooting press F8)- If you have Vista, restart with networking capabilities.- If you're running an older operating system, you may have to have a friend help you download some programs- After you are in to your computer again, open Internet Explorer (or your browser)- If you're using Internet Explorer, go to Tools>Internet Options>Connections Tab>LAN settings- Uncheck the box that says "use proxy server" and close the boxes- Go to
- Download these three programs and save them in a place where you can find them:--- MalWare Bytes AntiMalWare --- Spybot Search and Destroy --- Super AntiSpyWare- Install all three programs - UPDATE all three programs (this is important) - Run all three programs (do a FULL scan - each will take one hour to scan)- Reboot your computer
In my case, this took care of my virus. I'm back up and clean and didn't lose a thing. I still recommend you back up your data as often as possible and take precautions to avoid getting close to these geniuses who aren't using their brilliance in the most constructive ways.
Passwords and Usernames
How do you remember them all?
It's pretty tricky these days to remember usernames and passwords. Plus, we have to keep changing them from time to time on our more secure accounts. Here are some tricks to create memorable and safe Usernames/Passwords.
- If you have to select a username instead of an e-mail address for a bank or credit card account, do not use the same username as your non-secure accounts (like Squidoo, Facebook, Twitter, etc). For instance, everyone who follows me on any social network knows that I can be found by looking for RLModranski. My other Hubpages account, on SparkPeople and Twitter. However, if you try to use that name to log in to any of my bank accounts, you will be sad. It won't work. I won't tell you my method of choosing a username; however, I recommend you start with something BESIDES what you use on any other social media account.
- Don't use the same password on your secure accounts as you do on your social media accounts. For some reason folks love to hack into Facebook. Maybe it's because they know if they can crack that password and username, they'll have access to all the things you use to create your username and password on the more secure accounts. So, don't give them a head start by using the same password on Facebook as you use on your bank account.
- Passwords - I hate coming up with new passwords. I have a couple basic ones I use on my non-secure accounts, but on my other accounts, I want something a bit harder to come by, but also something I can remember. A few general rules: DO NOT use your birthday or your address. Don't use your phone number or any other letter/number combination that a hacker can find in the phone book. DO NOT use your pet's name, children's names or friends' names. These are things you post in social media statuses all the time, so they are easy to come by. DO NOT USE numbers from your computer. Some of this information is passed to websites and even though your name is not usually associated with it, if you happen to get caught by someone phishing, they may get that information through cookies. And you can't really even use your old addresses because Switchboard lists every address you've had for the past 15 years. (I know, I move a lot!)
- But here are some ideas that are less easy to come by, but still easy to remember:
a. your great-grandmother's middle name and birthday
b. your DEAD dog's name and birth year (put the year in between two syllables)
c. your printer model and number combined with your street number
d. your grandmother's old phone number with the name of her street
e. your college roommate's home phone number with the name of your college boyfriend
f. If you want a really tricky one, use the ISBN from inside your favorite book or the serial number off the inside of your cell phone
g. Combine two items that are somewhat, but not closely, related and make them into a password.
Be creative. You can also go to a password generator website and they'll give you a random number; however, my problem is that I can't remember any of that stuff. Go ahead, change all of your passwords, be brave, be creative, but above all, be safe. (NOTE TO HACKERS: None of the above are the ways that I have created my passwords. I was careful to avoid those . . . just sayin'')
Helpful Links - Get rid of Viruses and learn about false e-mails
This is my favorite virus scanner and place to find out the truth about those pesky forwards.