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Protecting Yourself On The Internet

A. Cookies:

  1. Cookies are little pieces of information that web sites store on your computer.

B. Common scams:

  1. “phishing” Banks and major e-commerce sites will never ask you for credit card or account information. Even if the communication or web address looks valid. If you are unsure, contact the company first before responding.
  2. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  3. Pop-up messages. Use a browser that blocks unknown Pop-Up’s like Firefox or if you use Internet Explorer, install and use the pop-up blocker in the Google Toolbar.
    Firefox: http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/

    Google Toolbar: http://toolbar.google.com/googlebar.html

C. Double-check the URL:

  1. Some phishers use foreign character sets to create URLs close enough to fool users into thinking they’re on the real site.
  2. Make sure the site you’re logging on to is really www.paypal.com and not www.payp√§l.com.

D. Instant Messages:

  1. IM is not secure. Don’t type anything in an IM you wouldn’t want posted on a bulletin board next to the highway.
  2. Messages are saved on the host servers for a period of time, and may be accessed by others.

E. Online shopping:

  1. Use a major credit card, not a bank card to buy things online. A credit card is more vigilant about fraudulent purchases than a bank card.
  2. Consider opening a PayPal account if you want to use Ebay or shop at questionable websites, to protect your banking information.
  3. Review bank statements and verify if there are any questionable transactions. If there are, contact your credit card company and bank as soon as possible.
  4. Try and keep to major, well regarded web sites.
  5. Make sure that you use secure transactions when entering personal information and credit card information.
    the url will start with https:// rather than http:// if the site is secure
  6. Read all information carefully before pressing the submit button. Sometimes a check box can offer to opt you OUT of receiving sales or marketing email.
  7. Look for the privacy policy. Some companies will sell their contact lists to everyone and actually state their in their Privacy Policy. Look at the small print.

F. Web viruses:

  1. One way of spreading Internet viruses other than email is to have a user click on a button on a webpage that will download the virus code to the user’s computer and automatically run the virus code, infecting the computer. These buttons are also put inside email messages. Sometimes the button is labelled “Unsubscribe me from this mailing list” or “To unsubscribe from this list, click here”. DON’T click the button.
  2. Even if this is not a virus trap, many mailing list companies take any response to their message as proof that they have reached a “live” email address. This may mean that you get put on more mailing lists and get more SPAM messages.

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