Category Archives: Internet

Ways to Create a Secure Password

You must definitely have come across at least one person in your life who wants to know everything about everybody – who is dating who, who broke up with who, who got promoted, who is going to be sacked, and who is getting a divorce. Such people are all over the world, and sooner or later one comes across them and has to face them. Worse is the case when such people are your superiors! Though at times we wish our whole life could have a password, we know that is not possible. However what we can do is create an absolutely unique and secure password for things that CAN be protected with passwords – such as your office user accounts, special files on your computer, your mailing account, your Facebook account and scores of other things…

Creating a Secure Password

Be Original
Your password is something that has to be absolutely original. Try to come up with something new altogether. DO NOT pick ideas from your friends, or from novels, books or movies and do not choose any of the commonly used passwords. I once had a friend who, inspired by Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, used the Fibonacci number as a password for one of his mail accounts – I do not even want to attempt to explain the chaos and mayhem that followed! Your password has to be something that cannot be guessed easily, that cannot be deciphered even by the most clever people, or algorithm!

Be Creative
Never follow a set pattern or trend while creating different passwords for different accounts – otherwise someone who cracks one of the passwords (and thence the trend), will be able to crack them all! Always experiment with different types of passwords – one password could be only numbers, another could be only alphabets, another could be mixed characters, and you could even go totally random on one of the passwords! (Only make sure you don’t make it too random for you to remember it yourself!)

Be Discrete

Absolutely DO NOT share your password with anyone; not your best friend, not your companion, not your parents, NO ONE! DO NOT write down your passwords anywhere; and if you absolutely have to, NEVER write them down in the same diary/book or keep them all together in the same place! If someone comes to you for suggestions to create a new password, don’t give them your own idea/the idea you used to create your own password! They may be just bluffing, wanting to get you talking so they can pick up clues about what your password could be! Be discrete, and just keep them guessing!

Mix-n-Match
Try to use words from different languages in your password; that way no one can really guess what the word could be! Also do not just stick to one word from one language – let your password be a mix of words or phrases from different languages. The more obscure/weird your password, the more secure it is! Again here, go for a language that is less ‘popular’ – DO NOT go for Spanish, French, German, Russian words. And DO NOT go for common phrases like ‘I Love You’, ‘Have A Good Day’, ‘Goodbye’ and the like.

Change is the Only Constant

Change is the only constant in life – so keep ’em changing! NEVER stick to a single password for a single account. Keep changing your password regularly, but do not follow a pattern of change either! For example, do not change all your passwords on a set date of the month, in a set pattern. Also when I say change, it means ‘change’ and NOT ‘exchange’! Never switch between passwords of different accounts.

Some Clever Password Examples
Here are some examples of passwords created with a central theme in mind, and then going on to make it complex till it becomes undecipherable to a third person!

Based on Favorite Movie

e.g.: Autumn In New York

20aninnwyk00
This password was created based on the name and year of release of the movie Autumn In New York. The movie was released in 2000. So the password was created by choosing the first and last letter of each of the words in the name of the movie (autumn in new york); while the year was split so that the first two digits (20) preceded the password, and the last two digits (00) followed it. you could follow a similar pattern for any of your favorite movie.
00@n!nnwyk02
Here, the pattern of the year of release was reversed (0002 is 2000 written backwards!); while special characters were used in place of some of the alphabets (‘a’ became ‘@’, ‘i’ became ‘!’)

Based on a Phrase

e.g.: dog in the manger

godniehtregnam
Each word of the phrase has been written backwards.

G0dn!ehtregn@m
Following the same logic, special characters have been used to replace some of the alphabets.

@//!50nn!ethregnam
Again the same logic has been used, but with a twist! The word ‘dog’ in the phrase has been replaced with the name of an actual person (you could put in your colleague’s name too, or your neighbor, or anyone who lives up to the phrase!); to add to this, the name of the person has been written using special characters. I leave the name to be deciphered by you…!

Remember three important ‘S’s while creating a password – Strong, Safe, and Smart! Never let your password be something personally associated with you, the name of your first crush, your first pet, the last company you worked for, your favorite vacation spot, your favorite color. Try to make your password as complex as you can – but not so complex that you can’t remember it yourself! Go cryptic!

Ways to Protect Yourself from Internet Scams

download-9Bogus recruitment emails, 419 Nigerian scheme, work-at-home opportunities, fake lottery emails… the Internet is not only a storehouse of information and entertainment, it is also a dangerous realm, where you can get robbed. Along with defending your computer against viruses and ensuring your kids are safe online, you need to protect yourself from Internet scams, be they fraudulent online business schemes or identity thefts.

Protecting Yourself from Internet Scams

Step 1: Look for tell-tale signs in emails
The Internet can be a vast and infinite arena of knowledge. It can also be a great place to hide. For those seeking an anonymous mode of operation, the World Wide Web is an ideal location. From 40 year olds sneaking into kiddie and teen chat rooms to a scammer trying to pass off as your bank representative, the bottom line is that you should be vigilant. Look for tell-tale signs and be suspicious. An email can be fraudulent if:

  • It is full of spelling mistakes and has poor grammar.
  • It asks for sensitive personal or financial information like credit card numbers, passport details, etc.
  • It has a lot of capital letters, dollar signs and exclamation marks – “MAKE $$$$ Quickly!!”.
  • No official website or formal phone number or address is listed.
  • It has a “too-good-to-be true” scheme, “risk-free” plans or “get rich very quick” claims.
  • There is insufficient information about the offer or scheme.
  • The logo or symbol of the company looks fake or tampered with.
  • If the email informs you of free gifts and lottery winnings, it will ask you for money to deliver the prize or gift.
  • There are threats to perform an action, like “your account will be blocked”, “your account will expire”, “you will be terminated from the group”.
  • You are aggressively advised to subscribe or take part in the scheme immediately, else it will end and you will lose out on a great opportunity.
  • Anonymous email addresses like er1234@anon.com, xyz@domain.com are used.

Some of the above signs are not restricted to emails. Pop-up windows and webpages with a lot of dollar signs, arrows and capital letters are fake. Websites with poor grammar and language or spoofed logos, are bogus and should not be trusted. If not a scam, they might be dangerous sites, which can harm your computer through a virus or malware.

Step 2: Use the Internet smartly
There’s a way to handle or use things and there’s the right way. If you use a knife incorrectly, it can hurt you but if used in the right way, it completes its purpose. The same can be said for the Internet. Yes, there are a lot of scammers and hackers and “bad guys” out there, waiting around the corner. But you can get scammed only if you let down your guard. How to prevent Internet scams, you ask? Use the Internet smartly, here are some ways:

  • Do not perform sensitive data transactions and operations such as changing passwords, login information, accessing bank statements and online credit card transactions on public computers, like those in cyber cafes and libraries.
  • Set up spam filters in your email account and if possible, try to install an Internet security program along with an anti-virus software on your computer. Keep updating such software, to make sure it is up-to-date with the latest scamming practices.
  • If an email reads like spam and your gut feeling tells you it is spam, listen to your instincts and delete it from your inbox. Do not download any attached files or reply to the email. Do not click on any links in the email, even to unsubscribe from the mailing list. Just delete it.
  • Never ever enter personal information or any confidential data into pop-ups and small windows. Check links out by typing the address directly in your browser’s address bar. Avoid clicking on links in emails.
  • Enabling the ‘auto-complete feature’ on your browser will help you with passwords and login details but if you lend your machine to someone else, remember to delete cookies and turn off the feature.
  • Do not send login details of any account, be it email or bank, in emails to friends, co-workers or family. Your email account could get hacked and such information will land up in the wrong hands. Sensitive data such as credit card or social security number or any such information shouldn’t be sent by email either.
  • Always take a printout or a screenshot of any bill or transaction carried out online. Check your bank statements or account balance immediately, to see if the transaction has been reflected and if so, is it the right amount. If not a printout, you should be able to save the transaction’s record and access it on logging in at a later date.
  • The address bar in your browser shows a website’s URL as: http://website address. When financial transactions are being carried out or you are trying to access a secure site (like email), the URL should change to https://. This indicates a secure website address, i.e., no one else can access the page, as long as you are logged in. Some secure sites have a different icon near the URL, either a key or a closed padlock.
  • Avoid participating in chain letters and pyramid email schemes (“send $10 to 10 people and you will receive a surprise gift for each mail sent”). They always have some hidden trick or scam hidden in their text or at the least, will end up wasting your time.
  • Make sure you know who you are dealing with. If there is a phone number mentioned, call it up. Check local listings to see if that company exists at that number. Visit its official site to see if it is legitimate.
  • Do not base your financial transactions on advice received in chat rooms and online discussions or tips. If you are investing in a business venture, research, investigate and check out the agent and company. Do not pay any money in advance.
  • Insist on face-to-face discussions or meeting the company’s representative in an office. Check out the company’s legitimacy and see if there are any complaints or pending cases against it. You can use the Better Business Bureau site to carry out an online search.

In summation, the Internet can be a learning tool and aid, a good way to interact digitally and you can make money legitimately and honestly from it. So surf safe and be smart while using the Web.

Ways to Set Up Parental Controls on Windows XP

images-4The Internet can be a wonderful learning tool and a window into the world for children. On the flip side, it can be a parent’s worst nightmare. The Web does not differentiate between young and old, and what is right and wrong to see. Unlike a TV, adult content and violence is not shown during specific times and on certain channels. Warnings and disclaimers do hint of trouble ahead. But warnings can be ignored. As a parent, adult content sites and abuse sites, advertising drinks and drugs are definitely not part of your child’s learning experience. The answer to this problem are parental controls, features and options to block or prevent dangerous content online. In this article, learn how to set up parental controls on Windows XP operating system.

Setting Up Parental Controls on Windows XP

The issue with Windows XP is that it has no actual parental control features. Windows 7 and Vista are both equipped with a very secure parental control feature and management center, built into their respective OSs. But XP has no such features on the whole. However, some programs of XP have an optional parental safety feature. You can also opt for parental control software, which are programs designed specifically for monitoring and blocking unsafe content. First a look at which Windows XP programs can be customized for child safe browsing.

Internet Explorer
The default browser in XP is Internet Explorer. Using the Content Advisor feature, you block and allow various sites, based on their ratings. For example, you can decide that alcohol use is meant to be depicted, only in a mild context. But no instances of drug use should be allowed. Steps on how to use parental controls on Windows XP with content advisor.

☛ In the IE menu bar, click on Tools, then select Internet Options.

☛ Select the Content tab. The first pane is Content Advisor. Click on Enable.

☛ A new window opens up. In the small window, a list of categories are mentioned. Click on a category to highlight it, and use the slider to change what level of viewing is allowed. If you change a level, click on Apply, before moving on to the next category.

☛ From the tabs at the top of the window, click on Approved Sites. Here type the URL of a site, and click Allow, to make it viewable or Never to block it. This feature allows you to directly add which sites should be allowed and which should never be allowed.

☛ The General tab has 2 user options. The “users can see websites that have no rating” can be checked, based on your preference. This option allows unrated websites to be viewed, which is necessary, as some websites are not rated and are child viewership safe.

☛ The Supervisor Password is a rather important option. If you have learned how to use the Content Advisor feature, assume your kids will definitely know about it and will undo all your changes. To prevent such counter measures, set a password. That way, only those who know the password, can make any changes in the Content Advisor. Also if anyone tries to access a blocked site, they will be asked for the password.

Keep in mind, that the Content Advisor is only present on Internet Explorer. Other browsers have their own security mechanisms but most are not so specific. To make sure your kids use only IE, with your security mechanisms in place, uninstall any other browsers on your PC.

Windows Live
A free parental control software, as part of the Windows Live software applications is Windows Live Family Safety. Though this software is originally designed for Windows 7 and Vista, Windows XP has an older version. This free software add-on has the following features:

☛ Filter websites and pages, with SafeSearch option enabled in search engines.

☛ With the activity log feature, you can view which websites your child viewed and tried to visit, and when.

☛ It allows you to supervise and manage your child’s contact’s lists in Windows Live Messenger and Hotmail. So you can monitor and decide, who your child chats with and sends emails to.

The software is free for download from the official Microsoft site and has an easy user interface for management. But it needs to be installed on each computer your child uses, for the filtering to take place. Also make sure you are downloading the Windows XP version, as it is operating system specific. It will not work on any non Windows machine.

Limited User Account
User accounts in XP, allow for personalized settings and a sense of security as only the account holder can access the account settings and data. For a sense of total child safety, a smart idea to restrict what he/she can do on the machine itself. For instance, suppose your kid installs unsafe software and adult-related add-ons. What if the computer won’t allow any installation at all? This is possible using a limited user account. No new programs can be installed. Only what was originally installed by the administrator exists and can be used. Plus he/she cannot change the account type or details. This sort of user account restricts or limits what activities can be done on the computer. An ideal parental control for very tech-savvy kids.

Setting Up Parental Control Software on Windows XP

The limited filtering abilities in Windows XP can be frustrating, especially if you hate fiddling with your PC’s settings. There are different settings to be changed on different programs, and if you uninstall anything, the whole setting up process has to be repeated. For a one-stop solution on how to set up parental controls on Windows XP, check out external filtering software. It’s just like using an anti-virus tool. You can purchase software or download freeware, install it on your computer and let the program do the managing for you. Such software specializes in blocking adult content and is smart enough to “learn” what’s prohibited and what’s not. The more the features, the better, especially with paid software, so choose smartly.

Website filtering is a must, look for email, chat and social networking sites filtering. Usability of such a program is another key factor. It’s no use buying a software, if it’s difficult to use. Level of restriction should be adjustable, like stricter settings for older kids. Do not choose software that is browser dependent. Your kid will simply download another browser to use, bypassing your entire security program. Also check for browser compatibility. Here are some highly-rated parental control software:

  1. Net Nanny
  2. WebWatcher
  3. K9 Web Protection
  4. CyberPatrol Parental Controls
  5. Safe Eyes

Any parent can keep an eye on his/her child’s activities at school and at home. So why should the Internet be an exception? You can meet your child’s friends and peers socially, and decide whether they are good company or not. This cannot be done with chat contacts and friends on Facebook or Twitter. Hopefully the above steps have made setting up web filtering and blocking, a little easier for you on your XP machine.

Ways to Set Up Parental Controls on Mac

images-3In the recent years, there has been a steady rise in violence due to wide usage of Internet. Apart from the violence danger, there are other dangers, that parents have to protect their children from. Some children also simply spend their time playing different games on the computer. Therefore, it is important to have parental controls installed on the computer. It will help in monitoring the websites visited, emails sent to various people, chats, the duration your child spends on the Internet or also the amount of time the child spends on the Mac, etc. All this while, since the child was small and was not using the computer, you were not bothered about setting up different controls on the system. However, since the child has grown up and accesses the Internet, both when you are around and not around, you would want to know how to set up parental controls your computer. Before we read about setting up parental controls on Mac, we will see the advantages of having parental control on computer usage.

Advantages of Parental Control on Mac

Mac has one of the best parental control software. With this software, it is rather easier to create certain settings for Internet applications. A list of safe email addresses can be set up. It is only with these addresses will the user be able to exchange emails. Similarly, a list of ‘permitted’ websites can also be set up, so that the pornographic or harmful websites are out of bound for children. Parental controls can also be set to restrict the people the child can chat with. The applications that the child can use on the system can also be restricted. Having parental control in place also ensures, that the different settings are not changed even accidentally. Many times parents lose important data on the system, when the child deletes files from the system, however, once parental control is in place, this can be prevented.

Setting Up Parental Controls on Mac

We will now see how to set up parental control software on Mac operating system, namely OS X 10.5.x. Although parental control is also available on the previous versions of the operating system, the steps mentioned here are specifically for OS X 10.5.x. Before you can set up the parental control, you will need at least one managed user account on the system. If there is only one account, it will naturally be the administrator account. So that you can set up the parental control, you will have to log onto the system as an administrator.

  • Click on the Apple icon located in the Finder menu bar and scroll down to go to ‘System Preferences’ and click on ‘Accounts’.
  • If you see that some of the settings are dimmed, then you will have to enter the administrator name and password after clicking on the lock icon.
  • The next step will be to select the user account on which you would want to set up parental control.
  • Then click on ‘Parental Control’.
  • Now go to ‘Finder & System’ in the family controls list and then click on Configure.
  • Once you are in the ‘Finder & System’, you will also be able to configure other user accounts as well.
  • Then you will want to set ‘Limits’ for the operating system, which will help in making the interface a little more interactive, which the young children will find easy to go around with.
  • After which you will have to select each individual feature on which you will want to set parental control. Some of the features, where the parental controls are set is Safari browser, which will restrict visiting certain websites and ‘iChat’, by which the child will not be able to chat with all and sundry. Similarly, in the ‘Mail’ option email addresses can be filtered out.
  • After the limits have been set, click on OK, so that the parental controls will be applicable on your Mac.

I hope now you know what are the steps, you should take to install parental controls on Mac. It is best to set up a number of filters, so that your child is better protected. It is important to note that even if you block certain websites, email addresses, etc., at this stage you will be able to restore them and add them to ‘safe’ later. It is best to keep monitoring the parental controls from time to time to make changes as required.

Tips on Using the Internet Safely and Responsibly

The Internet has become an integral part of our daily routines, be it checking email, catching up with latest news, downloading music, watching videos, playing games, sharing our thoughts via blogs, or even socializing with people over the net. With every passing day, the widespread reach of Internet technology is expanding, but so is the number of menacing elements over the Internet.

What is Internet Safety?

The Internet might, perhaps, be the most extensive resource for information, but it is also a place with numerous threats and dangers. Internet safety is a concept that promotes safe web browsing without falling prey to scams and getting caught in scandals.

Fraudulent People Who Abuse the Internet

While you are browsing the net, there are some types of people that you will have to be wary of. These are people waiting for you to divulge personal information, so they can take over your identity, or people who will try to con you into parting with your money. The list below mentions few such people.

Hackers
Yes, people can hack your accounts, and once they have access to your account, they have control over all your transactions, and can misuse your account for illegal or objectionable purposes. In case hackers manage to hack your bank accounts, or other accounts that have important financial details, you could be virtually robbed as well.

Scammers
Online scams asking you to provide important information and then misusing it, are a huge menace over the Internet. Generally, these scams attract people by sending out fake emails saying that you have won a prize, or you have been selected as the lucky winner of some contest.

Phishing
Phishing is the activity wherein people fraudulently acquire sensitive information by posing as a trustworthy entity via email or instant messaging.

Spammers
Although spam emails are relatively harmless, they can fill up your inbox and be a constant source of irritating and unwanted advertising. Spammers can also pass on your address and phone number, and bombard you with telemarketing calls and snail mail as well.

Pedophiles
The Internet is no longer safe, especially for children, with the presence of countless pedophiles hunting for easy victims. They could trap children via chat, webcams, and even bully them into meeting in person.

Pornography Website Owners
Internet pornography is a major threat for people who frequently keep on posting their pictures and videos over the Internet. Make sure you do not upload your pictures and videos on unreliable sites that do not provide you any privacy guarantees. Misuse of photos and videos in pornographic industry is a huge menace over the Internet.

How to Attain Internet Safety

  • Safe Internet browsing is the first and most important rule when it comes to users using the World Wide Web. Maintaining maximum anonymity is always the safest option while browsing the Internet or chatting.
  • Do not give out your address, telephone number, credit card number, social security number, passwords, or even your complete name as long as it is not compulsory.
  • Do not allow strangers access to your web camera, and even while chatting with strangers via instant messenger, try to block suspicious users.
  • While shopping on the Internet, make sure you select a reliable website. Avoid shopping on websites that you have never heard of, or seem fishy to you even if they are offering attractive deals.
  • Do not upload your photographs, videos, and your personal information on social networking websites, which do not have privacy settings.
  • Avoid using an Internet café to carry out important transactions over the Internet.
  • For a safe Internet browsing experience, equip your personal computer with filtering, anti-virus, and anti-spyware software, a firewall detector, and a pop-up blocker which will warn you and protect you against possible online perils.

Finding Internet Safety Tips for You

My generation, which grew up with the rise of Internet in the 90s, got introduced to it at an age, when we were careful and mature enough to handle its impact. However, today, five-year olds start browsing the Internet and Google almost every single thing that comes to their monstrously curious mind. There was a time when you could control the rate at which your child got exposed to the real world, but that is sadly, no longer the case. Divulging personal information on the Internet can put a person’s life in jeopardy and therefore, you must provide guidelines to any novice who is accessing the cyber world for the first time.

Tips For Kids and Adults

Having the world at our fingertips in the form of Internet has its pros and cons. While you get access to an unlimited store of information, you also put your own privacy and data at risk. There are thousands of malicious computer viruses that can invade your computer system and steal your data, if you do not have an antivirus software program installed. Here are some safety tips for parents and children, that will protect your privacy and data.

Thou Shalt Not Share Personal Information
Do not share your name, address, social security number, phone number, and other such personal details on public forums on the Internet. You don’t know how this information will be used by third parties. Hence it is best that you withhold such information.

Thou Shalt Avoid Talking to Strangers
Children are advised to be suspicious of any strangers that they meet in chat rooms and social networking sites. Avoid talking to strangers and do not give out any personal details. You don’t know what the intentions of a person at the other end of the line are. Would you give out any personal information to a man whom you meet on the street? Similarly, avoid talking to strangers on the Internet.

Thou Shalt Avoid Sharing Pictures
Never share your pictures and home videos on any public forums or website on the Internet. These pictures can be used for nefarious purposes. So, do not share your personal photos or videos on any portal on the Internet. And if you do share them on sites like Facebook, make sure that your privacy settings are appropriately enabled.

Thou Shalt Not Share Financial Information
Do not divulge any financial information on the Internet like bank account numbers, credit card numbers, and other such information. Do not believe in any mails that you get, offering you a surprise lottery amount or any such financial reward. If you go ahead with such offers, you are bound to fall for some of the popular Internet scams. Please do not go ahead with any financial transaction on the Internet, before you are sure about the authenticity of the website.

Thou Shalt Avoid Sharing Login Name and Passwords
Under no circumstances should you share your passwords, related to your email accounts and online bank account transactions. Otherwise, if you do, there are chances that your account will get hacked, leading to dangerous consequences.

Thou Shalt Not Download Stuff Without Permission
Children are advised to avoid downloading any stuff on the Internet, without taking permission from their parents and elders. This is one of the prime rules that children should follow. These programs may contain malicious viruses which may crash your computer system entirely.

Thou Shalt Install Parental Control Filters
One of the important tips for parents is to install a parental control software, or change web browser settings, so that children are protected from obscene and pornographic material that is rampant on the Internet. This is very important for your child’s safety and mental health.

Thou Shalt Not Violate Copyrights
Do not download pirated music or movies via Internet. This will be considered to be a violation of copyrighted material for which you could be prosecuted. Your Internet service provider closely monitors illegal P2P downloads which can be reported to the authorities. So you are advised to be careful.

Thou Shalt Not Misuse Internet Resources
Do not take advantage of the access to personal information that social networking sites like Facebook provide you with. Hacking an email account is a punishable offense and do not indulge in such nefarious activities.

Thou Shalt Get an Antivirus Software Installed
It is very important that you safeguard your PC from the attack of malicious software that may get downloaded from the Internet. See to it that you get an antivirus software that has special Internet security features.

I recommend that you take these safety warnings quite seriously. People have suffered a lot of mental anguish and even financial loss, due to carelessness while using the Internet. If you follow some of these basic rules while using the Internet, it will certainly be a safe and enjoyable experience for you.

Ways to Safety for Using Facebook

The Internet is an exciting way of being globally connected to the world. You can do various things on the Internet at just a click of a button. Other than electronic shopping, one of the most popular reasons why people need the web is because of social networking sites. They are a new trend in the market, and almost everyone who owns or has access to a computer and the Internet, is a member of a social networking site. It is the best way to stay connected with friends and distant peers without taking the pains of calling or meeting them everyday. When you talk about social networking sites, one name comes to mind and that is Facebook. Sure, there are many more social networking websites in the market, but Facebook is the most popular, and today we are going to discuss some safety tips to remember while using Facebook.

Tips for Using Facebook Safely

It’s the most popular social networking site in the world. Period. More than 250 million people log in daily on Facebook, and the site boasts a membership of over 600 million. Though the site is the best platform for people to meet, interact, share photos and experiences, it’s also a good platform for anti-social elements who hack other people’s account and try to cause harm. Facebook users often share personal information through chatting and post information on each others walls, which can create a lot of problems if seen by a mischief maker. This makes it very essential that you be aware of some safety norms while using Facebook.

Sharing Information with Caution
Most of us share pictures and information on our profile, but it’s very important to make sure that no outsider can view what you upload on your profile. Facebook’s default setting allows people who are not your friends to view your information. Make sure you only allow your friends to see all the pictures and videos you post. All your other settings should also be set as ‘Friends Only’.

Do Not Accept Every Friend Request
The main purpose of Facebook is to make sure that you, as a member, stay connected with all your friends and peers. However, accepting every friend request you get is foolishness. There have been many cases where sex offenders, potential kidnappers, and even private investigators have created fake accounts to gain access through your information. As soon as you accept their friend request they start tampering with your account. Keep your Friends List as close knitted as possible.

Less Personal Information
Make sure you don’t fill up your personal information on the Facebook page. Updating your birthday is also a matter of concern, the more information you add about yourself the more easy it is going to get for someone to use your account for wrong purposes. Don’t fill in your phone numbers, addresses or even birthdays.

Do not Leave Your Facebook Account On
Leaving your Facebook account open on a public computer is like leaving your cell phone in a public place. Anyone can sit and start updating posts to your wall, customize site settings, and even type something which may later lead to conflicts. Always sign out of your account.

Avoid Posting Children’s Photos
The world is filled with child molesters and kidnappers, therefore I would suggest not to post your child’s pictures on Facebook. Make sure your kids don’t get entangled in this Facebook madness. Their photos can also be used for commercial purposes.

Think Before Posting
Before posting anything on the wall, think twice. Do not go on posting your late night extravaganzas and which hot chick you hooked up with last night. Almost everything you post on a Facebook wall can be seen by all the members of your “Friends List”. If you really need to share your details with your friends and colleagues do it on email. Don’t be a laughing joke on the Internet.

Hope this article on safety tips for using Facebook was helpful to you. By following such simple tips you will help Facebook be a much better and safer place for its various users.

Ways to Know if a Website is Safe

The Internet has made our lives easy in more ways than one, and today we are accustomed to use the Net for everything from banking to paying our bills to shopping. For this, we are required to fill in our personal information and use our credit or debit cards for online transactions. This is convenient as we do not even have to leave the confines of our homes and yet, we can enjoy shopping at our favorite destinations! However, this huge availability of sensitive information on the Web has given rise to crooks who are after collecting this huge database of information and using it to their benefits. Cyber crime, as crime on the Internet is termed as, is on the rise and there are thousands of sites out there that steal your personal information once you click on their links or download stuff from their site. The threats are many and include malware, spyware, phishing, virus and more. So, how can you protect yourself and your computer from all such potential threats? Well, the only way out is dealing with websites that are safe and secure.

How to Check if a Website is Safe

Before we get into the ways to check if a website is safe, let us try and understand what is meant by a secure website. When you browse through different sites on the Internet, there is an interchange of data between your computer and the server. The problem here is that this data is transmitted in “plain text” format and it is not difficult for anyone to access and decipher this data. Now, if you are wondering who would access this and how, then you must know that the information passes across several computers before it reaches the server. A secure website is one that encrypts the data using the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol, thus protecting it from being “read” by third parties who wish to use it for their benefits. Here are some ways to check if a website is safe to buy or order from.

Update Your Browser
The first thing that you can do in order to be able to detect threats from a website is updating your browser. No matter which browser you are using, you find updates appearing at regular intervals, urging you to install them. It is recommended that you install each one of these updates as every browser has its own list of phishing sites and spam websites which are regularly updated for advanced Internet safety. So, an updated browser can alert you against such websites.

Check the URL
Checking the URL of the Web page is simple and perhaps one of the best ways to detect if the site is secure or not. Just have a look at the URL and you’ll find that in case of Web pages that are secure, the URL begins with “https” instead of “http” as found on ordinary Web pages. For example, have a look at the URL of the ‘login’ page of Facebook and you’ll find that it begins with “https”.

Look for the Lock Icon
When you open a Web page that is secure, you’ll find an icon of a lock somewhere on the browser window. In Microsoft Internet Explorer, you should see the icon on the right of the address bar (or location bar) of a secure web page, while in Mozilla Firefox browser, you’ll find it in the bottom right corner of the page i.e., on the right side of the ‘Status Bar’ located at the bottom of the page. If you’re using the Google Chrome browser, you should look for the lock icon before the url in the address bar.

Check the Security Certificate
The presence of a lock icon does indicate a secure site but to be doubly sure, click (or double-click) on the icon of the lock. You’ll find that it is a link and clicking on it opens a new window that describes the security of the site in detail. This is nothing but the ‘security certificate’ we are talking about. The security certificate is the ultimate indicator of a site’s safety, and in it you’ll find details such as to whom the certificate is issued, by whom, the validity of the certificate, etc.

Use Online Tools
This is another way to check if a website is safe. There are certain websites on the Net that offer to check sites for security. All you need to do is go to one of these sites and enter the URL of the site you wish to check. Some sites like Web of Trust (WOT) even offer add-ons that you can download for free and install in your browser. The names of few of such sites are given below.

  • Google Safe Browsing
  • Web of Trust (WOT)
  • Norton Safe Web
  • HpHosts Online
  • SiteAdvisor
  • Blacklist Doctor

Look Out for Personal Contact Details
This is especially applicable to little known shopping sites with whom you have never done business before. In such cases, to find out if the business is real, look for a physical address or contact number. And if you chance to find a phone number, call the number to find if it is valid. Also, do some research about the particular company on the Net.

Thus, we see that there are several ways to know if a website is secure or not. So, before every transaction that you make on a website, check if it is indeed safe to do so. Hope you have a pleasant experience shopping online!

Ways to Trust the Internet

The Internet is not unlike a surrealist landscape – a casual browse may lead you through fields of clover, rainbows, hugs and unicorns, but turn a corner, and you’re in the middle of a dark jungle of trolls and Chthulu.

We love the Internet, and have come to rely upon it. It’s not going away. But using it stupidly or with an otherwise refreshing sense of naiveté can get you into trouble – financially, legally, or emotionally.

Common sense goes a long way, but there are lessons you only learn through experience – but that experience often sucks. So we’ve devised a guide that will help you avoid the land mines – we are from the Internet, and we are here to help.

Less is More

The more personal information you give out on the Internet, the more vulnerable you are to all kinds of nefarious plots. From stalking to outright identity theft, many of these schemes hinge on the evil-doer knowing things about you – and they usually find these things out directly from you. Anything you put out there is there forever, so be smart about it.

Give the absolute minimum of information. When signing up for something, only fill in the fields with asterisks – these are the required fields. Don’t volunteer anything unnecessary.

Don’t post your address, email address or telephone number anywhere public. Ever. If for some reason you need to post your email address, open a web-based email account like gmail that you use only for public posting and potential junk mail. Check that account only when you’re feeling brave, because it will be ugly. Or don’t check it at all.

Don’t Feed the Trolls

Reading the Comments section of any article, video, cat picture or what have you is a fascinating foray into the anonymous psyche of our collective conscience. You will see a variety of wildlife, from the Eternal-Bible-Thumper to the Everything’s-Political guy to the Easily Offended lady. It’s interesting in a sociological sense, but not something to get to bogged down in.

But if you keep scrolling, you will eventually run into a comment that is so incredibly offensive to any type of carbon-based organism that you feel compelled to channel your rage and righteousness into a detailed response.

Don’t. That person is a troll, and like a certain variety of bully, only does what he does to get a rise out of people. Don’t take the bait. Back away from the keyboard, lest you find yourself locked into a hatred-fueled back-and-forth with someone you’ve never met, over a topic you really don’t care that much about. It is draining.

Don’t Fish for Compliments

There’s an epidemic on Facebook – pretty girls posting elaborately staged photos of themselves with perfectly coiffed hair, expertly-done makeup and the outfit of a Playboy model, along with the statement, “OMG I’m SO UGLY!!!”

All of her friends proceed to pile on and tell her how beautiful she is and how they would give anything to have her eyes/waist/boobs. Thing is, she already knew that – she just wanted to hear it from someone else. Then a troll comes along and agrees with her original statement, which sends her into a misspelled rage (despite the fact that said troll was, in fact, validating her supposed opinion of herself).

Sigh. Don’t be this girl. If you post a picture/artwork/poem and you ask for feedback, you’re going to get it. The validity of that feedback depends upon the audience – a serious critique group is more likely to be accurate than a bunch of your friends or random strangers.

Check the Source

The Internet is great for looking things up – in fact, it is the ultimate authority when settling bar bets. But don’t automatically believe everything you read. Check the source, because believe it or not, not everyone knows what they’re talking about. And “just anyone” absolutely can (and will) publish on the Internet.

Scroll down to the bottom of the article and check for references. No references? Take the info with a grain of salt. If it’s really important, Google the author’s name to see if s/he actually has a background in the subject. If the author’s name is something like “huggeebear1524”, take the info with a grain of salt. That is a username, and real experts prefer to publish under their professional names.

Keep Your Digits Private

The ability to type in a credit card number and get a package a few days later is one of the things that makes the Internet great. We do it millions of times per day, and we’re not stopping anytime soon. Unfortunately, the aforementioned nefarious evil-doers recognize this and go to great lengths to get that number. They will even go so far as to create websites identical to major retail sites to fool you into giving it up.

Only give out your card information if it is a known retailer with a secure server. If the site seems poorly designed, weirdly glitchy, or anything else that seems questionable, move on. If you’re asked for a credit card number when you’re just signing up for something, click away from there. If a site tries to install something on your computer (even toolbars), click away – they can steal your information from your computer.

In the macro view, the Internet is a useful tool. But like any tool, following some basic common sense goes a long way toward preventing accidents.

Ways to Keep Your Kids Safe Online

Internet is no longer a privilege – it is a necessity. It is something we have heavily come to depend on. Sometimes it is hard to believe that till just about a few decades ago, completing a project meant take the time out to go to a library, armed with a notebook and all kinds of drawing and writing materials, and going through piles of books to compile decent amount of information, which would then go into a project. Gone are the days when an assignment meant creating working models. Everybody has become tech-savvy, so that now we would rather prefer animation to working models, power-point presentations to actual flow-charts. As with everything in the world, this has several pros and cons (personally, more cons, I think). However, one inevitable outcome of all this is – everybody is on the internet. However, the immediate concern that arises in the mind is, everything on the internet is accessible to everyone! How then, can you protect your child and ensure his/her safety online?

5 Point Plan to Ensure Your Child’s Online Safety
Here are five very basic and easy to implement ways in which you can protect your child from bad influences on the internet.

Internet Hours

Fix up a time in the day when your child can access the internet. Do not let your child access the internet during any other times of the day. However, be fair when you are doing this. The child should not feel like you are bossing on him/her or are being unreasonable or rude. It should be a fair game. The main reason behind this is – if your child develops a rebellious attitude, he/she is going to want to break the rules! This may in turn, make things get out of control. Also, decide on a time when you will be in the house. You need not pull up a chair and sit behind your child and monitor each and every page he/she visits. But the fact that you are around will prevent your child from being naughty. Also insist on leaving the door to your child’s room ajar, if not completely open. Do not let him/her bolt the doors from inside the room.

Passwords

Make sure your computer is well protected. Put passwords on programs that you think are harmful for your child. You can even store games within password protected folders. Make sure you create a secure password. Passwords are a good way to keep your children out of stuff that you think is inappropriate for them. However, if you do create a password, make sure you know how to recover your data from an event of password hacking. Kids nowadays, know more than we can imagine! So keep yourself updated on the various hacking software, and make sure your child does not lay hands on any of them.

Parental Control

Block access to all those websites that may contain content – including the actual content on the website as well as advertisements of products and services – that you think is inappropriate for your child. Also, never edit the settings when you want to use the computer. You can access all the websites you want in other ways. Create different user profiles for the computer with different internet settings. Again, remember to protect the user profiles with suitable password.

Limit Purchases

Online shopping makes life a lot easy – with books, clothes and all sorts of things available online. You may want to purchase a few goods for your kids; a limited edition book, or a special edition CD or DVD of a movie, etc. Make all these purchases yourself. Do not reveal your PayPal details and credit card details to your kids. You will hence be able to keep a tab on what your kids buy online. Allowing your child to make individual purchases online could be twice as dangerous. Firstly, you do not know what they are purchasing and whether it is alright for them to purchase it or not. Second, you will not have any control over how much money your child spends online! This will include membership fees to websites, actual purchases, and a lot of other things.

Inculcate Responsibility

The best way to restrict your kids online is to make them responsible and to make them understand WHY they should not do certain things online. Gain their confidence. Do not simply lay down rules – make them understand why you are doing what you are doing. Kids nowadays, belong to the Y Generation – they always want to know why. This is not a part of being audacious or rebellious. This is just the way kids are coming to be now. But most of the time, parents do not know how to deal with this constant questioning, and this is when they bring in the whole authority issue. Understand this, and act accordingly.

I believe this has given you some hope about your child’s safety online. Educating yourself and your kids about internet safety should be the top most thing on your list when you are introducing the world wide web to your child. Making your child grow up to be a responsible individual of the society will take care of most problems regarding safety in all sense – even on the internet. Do not use force – it will only drive your child further in the direction of misbehaving and overthrowing your authority. Instead, stress more on using logic and convince your kids about your points of view. All the best!