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The Essentials to Staying Safe Online.

Be Smart, Be Safe, But Don't be Left Behind!
Protect Your Privacy Online

Click on a link below to go to more detailed information about that essential point.
  1. Protect your personal information.
  2. Know who you are communicating with. Know who it is you have transactions with.
  3. Use software to protect you and the information on your computer. It is essential to use a reputable anti-virus software, a firewall, anti-spyware or anti-malware.
  4. Set up your operating system and web browser so it is protected and protects your information.
  5. Use passwords and or usernames that wont be guessed at or easily located. Change passwords frequently.
  6. Save important sensitive documents and information on to a floppy or burned on to a CD or DVD. Erase sensitive information from the computer so it can't be cracked. ("Hacker" or "hacked" is often erroneously used instead of  "Cracker" or  "cracked" - which is when a person illegally breaks into computer systems to do damage, steal secrets, or enter simply because they can. Dictionary)
The Essentials page tells briefly of things to do for essential safety on the internet. The other pages in this web site give more detail of what to do for online safety for each topic.

Protect your personal information.

Protecting your personal information guards against identity theft and guards against other misuse of your privacy rights.

  • Always be cautious about giving your personal information, your name, home address, phone number, social insurance number, credit card, etc.
  • Don't give personal information unless it is important for you to receive what the web site is providing.
  • Find out how your personal information will be used. Read the privacy statements for the web site. Will your information be shared with 3rd parties? Don't give personal information just because it's asked for!
  • Don't open email from unknown sources. Don't use a preview pane to see email. Don't open an attachment unless you know what is in it, no matter if you know the email address of who sent it. Don't click on email or pop ups, don't enter personal information in pop ups, or go to a link supplied by a pop up. Learn how to use email filters. (See Email Safety page for more details about email safety).
  • If you are entering personal information into a site make sure that is the legitimate web site of that organization. If you are in doubt contact the organization to ask for their web site address. Look to see if the location bar shows https:// in front of the address (URL). Look to see if there is a locked lock or unbroken key in the corner of your browser window. (See  Web Site Safety page for more details about web site safety).

Know who you are communicating with. Know who it is you have transactions with.

  • If you are on a banking or a financial web site, did you get the address from a reliable source? Did the information about the web site come in an email, If so contact your bank to confirm what their web site address is. WARNING: Phishing is a form of identity theft that makes you think you are on the web site of a legitimate organization, but you aren't, and then asks for your personal information possibly even including your account numbers and passwords. (See Phishing information in the Email Safety page).
  • If you chat do not give out any personal information in a chat room, anyone and everyone can see it. Would you normally give your personal information to strangers? All chat room dialogues are recorded and logged indefinitely. Do not put personal information in your chat room profile.
  • If you use Instant Messaging (IM) do not trust anyone unless your know who they are. Do not put personal information in your IM profile. Unknown people can add you to their "friend list" and ask to be added to your friend list, but be deceptive in who they really are. Do not share your personal information when chatting in IM.
  • If you create a personal web site do not give out personal information. Anyone in the world can look at your web site.

Use software to protect you and the information on your computer.

The basic essentials that you will need are a reputable anti-virus software, reputable firewall, reputable anti-spyware or anti-malware. (See External Resources - Essential Free Software for some suggested reputable software).

  • Set up an anti-virus program before you start using email and before you go online.
  • Set up a firewall before you go online, especially if you are connected by cable, wireless, or dial up modems. Firewalls stop crackers from accessing your computer.
  • Use reputable anti-spyware, anti-malware that will locate and allow you to delete spyware on your computer. AdAware has a good reputation but some programs claiming to be anti-spyware actually do the opposite and set spyware on your computer.
    • To decide what software is reputable you may have to look at security software reviews or talk to a computer professional who will give you their recommendations. The Essential Free Software suggested by this site, on the External Resources page has a good reputation in the online tech. community at the time that this web site was created. New threats are always occurring, and new software to counteract those threats are always being created. The software suggested above has been in existence for awhile and tries to keep up to date on new threats.

Set up your operating system and web browser so it is protected and protects your information. (See Web Site Safety - Browser Settings page)

  • Make sure you update your operating system regularly. Microsoft is known for vulnerability "holes" that crackers exploit to access your computer -- Microsoft regularly provides "patches" and updates for these vulnerabilities. Linux systems and Mac computers have similar updates.
  • Make sure your browser Internet or privacy settings are adequate. Set your cookies to only accept session cookies, and to not accept 3rd party cookies. (See Web Site Safety - Browser Settings page). Clearing Cache and Cookies does get rid of 3rd party cookies, but not accepting them to begin with is a better option.

Use passwords and or usernames that won't be guessed or easily located. Change passwords frequently.

  • Use generic usernames, not something that would identify your name or your gender.
  • Use passwords that are a combination of letters and numbers and that are NOT important dates or pet names.
  • Don't save passwords on the computer; write them down or memorize them.
  • Don't use the option offered by some web sites to remember usernames or passwords.
  • Change passwords frequently.
  • Don't share passwords with anyone.

Save important sensitive documents and information on to a floppy or burn on to a CD or DVD. Erase important information from the computer once it is saved somewhere else, so a cracker can't access your information. 

Anything on a computer is potentially accessible by a 3rd party, more so if it is on a computer that is frequently online.

  • Keep sensitive information stored offline, or on a computer that is not connected to the internet.Tip: Addresses and address book files can be stored on a floppy and then deleted from the computer, when needed they can be "imported" back into the email program.
  • Put sensitive information on to a floppy, a CD, or a DVD and keep it in a secure place.
  • Once it is stored somewhere else, erase sensitive information from the hard drive of any computers that are connected to the Internet.
  • Manage / Delete Cache, Cookies, Temporary Internet Files, History, Location Bar regularly ( See Web Site Safety - Browser Settings page for more detail).