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How to Be Safe on the Web

March 25, 2008

The web is a constantly changing space, and many people are afraid to dip their toes in the web stream for fear of being stung by a digital stingray. And rightfully so. In my experience, weaving through through the email flow, are false warnings and ugly offerings, fraudulent phishers, and identity thieves. The web is also increasingly unavoidable. What to do? Learn how to protect yourself without going hiding; learn to navigate through the web rapids.

One place to go to find out if something is real or not is Snopes.com, a site that tracks rumors and scams. If you suspect an email or a site is a virus, a fraud, or an urban legend, http://www.snopes.com/ is a reputable site where you can find answers.

One additional warning; I have seen emails that assure me that Snopes agrees that whatever this email says is true. Don’t just beleive them and don’t just click on the (supposed) Snopes link they give you. Find Snopes using Google and check out the claim there.

My daughter, who swims in a very different web stream than I do, offers this advice, especially relevant for parents and teachers, IMHO. Apparently some questionable sites have managed to get web addresses very similar to highly popular sites, with only a small typo difference. Make the typo, and you can find yourself in a toxic swamp. Being very careful about web addresses, and/or bookmarking (making them a “favorite”) so you just click is the easiest way to deal with that.

Most importantly is educate yourself on what’s happening on the web on a regular basis. Virtual University – http://vu.org/ is offering a free course on Internet Security. To access it, click on http://vu.org/ and find the box on the right, (three pink arrows point to it in the image below.)

VU Internet Security

Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch

I’ve taken courses from the Virtual University before and found them to have good information although perhaps a little ordinary in presentation. I’m going to take the course; you might want to update your web dangers knowledge too.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 25, 2008 6:49 pm

    You’re right about the near-names. http://www.whitehouse.gov is the site for the White House; there are dot-com and dot-org sites with that same name. And those are very tame examples.

    I can’t remember where I read the analogy of the internet, even a bounded community like AOL or Yahoo, as a large city with millions of residents. As with the city, there are places you don’t want to go to, and people you don’t want to hang out with.

  2. March 25, 2008 8:25 pm

    Hi Dave
    Great example – I was afraid to link to the ones I was talking about, and great analogy too, which I will steal for future discussions;->

  3. Lynn permalink
    March 29, 2008 3:19 pm

    Hi Joan, you may be interested in this (if you’ve not seen already.

    http://www.dfes.gov.uk/byronreview/pdfs/Final%20Report%20Bookmarked.pdf

  4. March 29, 2008 8:40 pm

    Hi Lynn,
    Thanks a lot – It looks very interesting.

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