Four Steps to Secure your Email and Online Safety

Checking Mail Online Safety

Checking for Mail by hortongrou - http://www.sxc.hu.

Online safety is important!

Just by having your computer online, you can expose your information and personal data to all types of malicious intentions and significant problems.  These are referred to as viruses, hackers, worms and phishes.   These four tips for online safety can help protect you from identity theft, credit card fraud, or a complete computer takeover – all of which can happen without you even knowing about it!  These four steps can protect you and your family and assure your overall online safety.   Share these with your family to assure kid internet safety.

Four Tips to Online Safety

1.  What is in Your Inbox?  Have you checked it for online safety?

If your e-mail program allows you to preview the entire message before or while it is being downloaded, turn this setting off.  Your computer safety is at risk by some e-mails that contain dangerous code.  This hidden code can install worms, or viruses, or even worse all without your knowledge until it is too late to fix.  Check the options in your e-mail program for a way to disable the message preview pane.  Use an internet security program that monitors incoming mails to improve your online safety.

2. Scrutinize in Detail Your Messages to Assure Online Safety

If you receive and email message from an institution like a credit company, PayPal, your bank, or broker which request your private information, like passwords, or account numbers do not respond.   Be very careful, as these emails will look official.   Do not click on a link in these emails and enter personal information at a website.  Again, these hackers are very clever and the emails and websites will be set up to look just like your bank or financial institution.  Reputable and honest companies do not verify accounts through email.  Phishing is the criminal process of fraudulently attempting or acquiring sensitive information like credit card information, user names, and passwords by pretending to be a safe and trustworthy individual in an email or other electronic communication.   Thus, hackers that are phishing are playing a hoax with the purpose to get you to give them important confidential information.  This then make you susceptible to fraud like identity theft or credit card fraud.  In order to assure your online safety make a phone call.  Contact the institution or company that claims to be sending the e-mail and verify the contents of the message with them.   They probably never sent it. Only use the number on your statement though, and not the number that appears in the e-mail message. It may direct you right to the spammer, who will do everything they can to assure you that nothing is wrong!

3. If it is From a Friend, it must be Safe, Right? Verify your Online Safety.

It is logical to assume that a message from your friend or colleague is safe, but that is not always the case! If you receive an email from a friend or colleague which contains an attachment (could be a media clip, a screen-saver, a picture or anything else), confirm it is from them.  Assure your online safety, by calling them up to check and see if they really did send it. Your friends email may have been hijacked.  There are viruses and worms can attack your email and blast out a virus-ridden email to everyone in your address book.  This gives the appearance that that it came from you and therefore it appears trustworthy.

4. Read Your Messages in Plain Text for Online Safety.

Some e-mails written in HTML (the coding language that makes up many web pages) can be harmless. While there are some that contain malevolent programming that can take over your browser, e-mail system, or your total computer.  At the same time, the spammer is collecting your confidential financial and personal information. All of this is happening without you being aware or knowing it is happening! Set your email to show messages only in plain text.  With most email programs, this is done by adjusting your email options.   If you receive emails only in plain text, you are safe from having unknown and harmful programs installed thus putting your online safety and private information in danger.

Exercising common sense is one of the best methods to protect your e-mail and online safety.  The Internet is similar to a crowded shopping mall. Do you think an employee of your financial service institution would move into a bunch of people call out to you and ask for your account and other personal information? Would you answer him by calling out this information so that all could hear?  I know that you would most certainly would not!  It is prudent to have the same awareness and caution when reading and responding to e-mail.  Talk to your kids about online safety.  Make sure you whole family is aware of the dangers of email.  These tips can help stop spammers dead in their tracks while keeping you and your family from becoming another victim of fraud or theft and overall you improve your online safety.

The picture in this blog post is called Checking for Mail by hortongrou.  It is found at http://www.sxc.hu.  Credit is provided for permission from the photographer to use it Four Tips to Secure your Online Safety.

Online Safety – Report on Youth Safety on a Living Internet

A report titled “Youth Safety on a Living Internet, A Report of the Online Safety and Technology Working Group” was released in June of 2010.

Online Safety

Digital World graphic design - http://www.sxc.hu

This study reviewed the status of efforts to advance online safety through education and technology solutions.  This included a review of technology solutions like parental control and blocking software.  They looked at current technology solutions for online safety as well as new technologies under development.  They also included a review of procedures used to report safety issues and any obstacles to this reporting.

The report defined safety on the internet in four overall classifications.  Freedom from physical harm is the first aspect of internet safety.  Freedom from harassment and exposure to disturbing materials is the second aspect.  Freedom from unwanted legal consequences is the third.  Identify and property safety is then considered as the forth aspect of internet safety.  Clearly, the whole topic of internet safety has expanded as is more complicated with increased use of the intranet.

Included below are some of the recommendations of this online safety study.

Education for Online Safety

They found that the best way to assure youth internet safety through education and online citizenship.  Some of their recommendations to improve online safety are to display targeted safety messaging, to promote media education and safety training within our schools, to establish industry best practices, and to get our youth involved in the risk prevention education.

Online Safety Technology for Child Protection

The study concluded that the best technologies for parental controls and child protection work in conjunction with education.  This includes an increased awareness of the capabilities and mentoring from parents in the use of the technology solution.  They recommend the development of a commons set of terms across similar technologies, making internet safety options available with new products, and education programs on how these technologies work.

Overall Recommendations for Online Safety

Overall, the study recommends that additional resources be applied to implementing the results of this report as well as continued investigation of online safety.  They recommend the establishment of a program to improve awareness of the current federal programs on online safety.  This would involve a complete review of online safety programs and the allocation of additional resources for promotion.

The complete online safety report may be found at this link “Youth Safety on a Living Internet”.