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Online Security

Staying Safe Online

Whether you use Dial-Up or Wireless Broadband access, you could be vulnerable to hackers (though the percentage is fairly low) and viruses (which has become a more frequent and serious threat).  This month, we take a look at some tips to help ensure your online security.

Always Use Anti-Virus Software

And keep the software up-to-date.  Over 500 new viruses are discovered each month. You are not just protecting yourself when using virus software, but also others to whom you communicate.  A computer virus is a program designed to spread itself by first infecting executable files or the system areas of hard and floppy disks and then making copies of itself. Viruses usually operate without the knowledge or desire of the computer user.  A virus can result in lost data or require costly repairs to your system.  A virus can also spread from your computer to infect other computers.  You can avoid these risks by installing and using anti-virus software.  Anti-virus software scans your computer and your incoming email for viruses, and then deletes the viruses.  Most commercial anti-virus software include a feature which allows you to download updates automatically when you are on the Internet.


Always Use a Firewall

A firewall is an "internal lock" for information on your computer.  A firewall is a software program or piece of hardware that prevents unauthorized Internet traffic from entering or leaving your computer. A firewall helps make you invisible on the Internet and blocks all communications from unauthorized sources.  Many computer operating systems already have firewalls installed, you just have to turn them on. The best way to ensure protection is to use both a firewall and anti-virus software.  There are many other firewalls available to download or buy that help you secure your computer.


Sharing Files is Risky

Learn the risks and rules associated with sharing files or your Internet connection.   You can be exposed to danger via e-mail, file-sharing, a broadband connection or a Wi-Fi connection.  Peer-to-peer or file-sharing programs allow you to share your files with others on the Internet -- and vice versa. File-sharing is a new and interesting technology that shows promise for future applications. However, just like you shouldn't open email attachments from people you don't trust, you should be wary about downloading files from them as well. You never know what you or your kids may find on the hard drives of random strangers on the Internet.


Disconnect From the Internet When Idle

If you are not using your Internet connection, turn it off.  No one can attack your computer when it is not connected to the Internet. This is especially important if you have a high-speed connection.


Use Unique Passwords

And don't share your passwords with anyone.  Your password should contain one Capitalized letter, lower-case letters, and at least one numeric value (number).  An example would be something like - " netWest1 ".


Be in Control of Your Software

The software and operating system on your computer have many security features, many you may not use. Learn how to automatically update your operating systems with security patches, to activate firewalls and to turn off any extraneous options that leave your computer vulnerable.

Use Tools to Enhance Your Protection

Learn about tools that can help to protect you from viruses and hackers.

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