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Posts Tagged ‘Privacy’

How To Protect Yourself and Your Privacy On-Line

THERE IS RISING CONCERN OVER SCAMMERS and PRIVACY ON THE INTERNET!

This weeks posting is devoted to helping you to protect yourself while on-line, whether communicating via email, Facebook or Twitter, accessing your bank, or making purchases through on-line merchants. Always remember that it is ultimately up to you to maintain and protect your own privacy!

Keeping your software up-to-date isn’t just a question of adding new features to your programs. It is also a critical part of protecting yourself on-line. But that doesn’t mean just having the latest version of your chosen anti-virus program. Your computer’s operating system and the programs that run on your computer must be up-to-date, too. Never ignore prompts to update your operating system or applications with critical security fixes. When updating your Microsoft operating system, only do it using Windows or Microsoft Update Tools. Macs have a similar updating program that prompts users when it’s time to make an update. All other software programs should be updated via that company’s website to ensure safety.

For years scammers have used email to dupe their victims into sending money or divulging sensitive information. While that’s still a problem, scammers are increasingly turning to social networks, such as Facebook, and using your friends against you. The message, which can appear as a direct message or a post on your Facebook wall, is designed to look like it came from your friend’s profile. A request for money or a free treat from your favorite store presented by a friend can be compelling or a tempting offer but before clicking, you should ask yourself a few questions.

  1. Does the request sound reasonable or is the offer too good to be true?
  2. Is this really something my friend would request/send/write?
  3. Does the language have awkward phrasing or a lot of typos?

If any of those questions raise a red flag, don’t click the link. If you really want to verify the message, contact your friend directly about the request or offer.

When visiting a new website, you should always take a moment to scan the site’s URL  (Uniform Resource Locator) that is displayed in a bar at the top of your Internet browser. That URL, is the address of the website and should be scrutinized for typos or other irregularities to make sure they are not just a clever imposter. Most URL’s will begin with the familiar ‘http’ before the site’s address. News, entertainment and other general interest websites all use this format for their URL’s. But if money is to change hands or you’re asked to share sensitive information such as your Social Security Number, look for a URL with an extra letter. Make sure  that when providing sensitive information that the Web address starts with ‘https‘ instead of ‘http‘. That little ‘s‘ stands for secure, meaning the website has additional security and you are less likely to have your information compromised.

If you use Twitter you’re probably familiar with so-called shortened URL’s which are a method for streamlining a link so it  can fit in Twitter’s 140-character limit. While it  is handy for sharing information, it can be dangerous. Even if you know the person who has posted the link, it’s a good idea  to  proceed with caution. Take the time to expand the link before clicking on it.

Never assume that mobile applications (apps) are safe. Smartphone users who want to use mobile banking should only use apps provided by their financial institution. Third-party apps may not have the same privacy protections as apps offered by your bank and many continue to run even after you exit them. This increases the risk  that keystrokes and touch screen selections will be intercepted. Security on mobile devices will get better but for now don’t do it!

Following these guidelines will make all your on line dealings safer and protect you from scammers.

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