Sunday, August 1, 2010

Tips to Protect Yourself Online

Almost all consumer products have a warning label; if only your email inbox had one too. Delivery notices from the post office, messages from friends, and headlines for local events all look innocent enough when they arrive in email form. However, these emails can contain malicious links with a virus, causing your computer to crash. But hackers aren't just using email anymore; they are tapping into websites and Social Media platforms. How can we protect ourselves online, and on our favorite social networking sites and not become a victim of cyber crime?

University of Phoenix instructor and IT expert Jim Dearman provides the following tips.

1. Be careful on what you share: Addresses, personal information, names of your spouse or children, using your full name, all make you vulnerable to identity theft. Although popular, website such as Myspace, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are all gold mines for hackers. Check your privacy settings, and use with caution.

2. Think before your click: If you get an email from one of your contacts that seems out of character or contains a link you do not recognize, don't click.

3. Choose a strong password: Do not use a word from the dictionary. Change it by adding capital letters or numbers, and choose a password at least 8 characters in length.

4. Keep your computer up-to-date: Make regular updates, have anti spyware, and keep your virus software up-to-date.

5. Check your Social Media sites: Make sure to check your privacy settings. Sharing with friends is one thing, allowing strangers access to your site and personal information is another.

6. Secure your wireless network: Do not leave your wireless network open. Secure your connection, because hackers can access your personal information, browse your files, or even worse take over your computer.

7. Don't accept random friend requests on social sites: while the goal is to network, hackers can create fake accounts in order to access your personal information.

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