Chapter 14. How to Survive the Internet Unscathed

Dragon

 

Take the following advice seriously,
and your Internet experience will be
trouble free at all surfing times.

1.        Be ethical.

2.        Abide by all cyber rules, regulations, and laws wherever they may apply.

3.        Be wary of accepting advice from cyber friends on the Internet.

4.        Don't flame, spam, or phish.

5.        Don't get involved in nasty cyber arguments.

6.        Don't accept opinions, rumors, unsubstantiated comments as Gospel truths. Be wary of propaganda and biased information.

7.        Check original and reliable sources to verify accuracy of information whenever possible. Develop a habit to critically evaluate all content on the WWW.

8.        Guard against viruses and hackers, take absolutely NO chances. See Anti-Virus for a free download.

9.        If you have access to an anti-virus program with live update feature, update frequently and have auto-protect running on your computer.

10.      Remember to disable auto-protect before installing new software on your computer if your program does not automatically do it for you.

11.     As a rule, do not send your photo or give personal information to strangers, and do not give passwords or credit card numbers online.

12.     If you must enter your password, give personal information or credit card numbers online, do so cautiously and only if you are sure that the Web site is secured. A KEY or PADLOCK in yellow or in a yellow box is visible at the bottom of the screen when the site is secured. Note also that in the address or URL, the hypertext transfer protocol "http" will change to "https" indicating that the site is indeed secured. Never shop online without using a secure browser such as Internet Explorer or Netscape. See Shop Online Safely for more information.

13.    If you experience something suspicious online or know something is dreadfully wrong, notify someone you trust immediately.

14.    Read carefully agreements, important notices, terms and conditions, before subscribing, downloading, registering, buying, ordering, or "signing" anything online.

15.    Be very cautious when downloading free software. Some sites provide free download of software but long distance charges may apply for every minute of download.

16.    Be careful what you say, i.e. type, while you are in a chat room. Don't say anything that you may regret later. What you say could be permanently saved or printed by any party "conversing" with you or "listening" to your conversation online.

17.    Never leave your good personal email address to anyone in a chat room, discussion group, newsgroup, on a bulletin board, or when using an instant message service.

18.    Don't send anything by email, or attach anything to an email, that you don't want the WHOLE WORLD to read, see, hear, or know about. It may come back to haunt you when you least expect it. Remember that an email is a written record accessible by anyone FOREVER!

19.    Choose a good password. If possible, use a minimum of 8 characters and a combination of letters and numbers. Do not use single dictionary words, your first or last name, date of birth, or other personal info that can be easily obtained, or a password that contains part of your email address.

Advice from Microsoft Passport Network on how to create a strong, memorable password:
To be strong, a password must:
Contain at least seven, but no more than 16, characters.
Combine three of the four different types of characters:
Uppercase letters (for example: A, B, C).
Lowercase letters (for example: a, b, c).
Numerals (for example: 1, 2, 3).
Symbols (` ~ ! @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) _ + - = { } | [ ] \ : " ; ' < > ? , . /).
Not be a common word or name, or a close variation.
Not be the same as any of your four previous passwords.
Not be a minor variation of your old password.

Important:
Don't write down your password. (I write mine down but coded, and only I know the coding system).
Never give out your password in an instant message conversation or share it with anyone else.
If you have more than one e-mail account, use a different password for each account. (You will get all confused if you don't write this down).

20.    Don't use the same password at multiple sites or for your email accounts. Don't share your password with others.

21.    Be cautious of unsolicited emails that appear to come from reputable online shops or services that ask you to submit personal information such as your credit card number, email address, and password.  Often these emails will look as though they come from the company you are familiar with, and the email will ask you to click on a link and "sign in".  You should never provide this kind of personal information in an unsolicited email.

22.    Personal account and financial information are often obtained by scam artists who send unsolicited email to unsuspecting users asking them to "update" their account information. The email usually contains a link to a website that is controlled by the thief asking the user to submit personal information including email address, password, credit card number, and other relevant information. Once the information is obtained, the scam artist can then gain access to numerous online accounts since many Internet users frequently use the same user name, email address, password, and financial information at multiple web sites. (Advice from Amazon.com).

23.    Be diligent in preventing Identity Theft as thieves can use your personal information, i.e. borrow your ID, to open bank and credit card accounts online, or steal your password from your home computer to access your bank accounts online. Be extremely cautious when entering contests online, request free brochures, free recipes, free quotes, respond to surveys, registering products online, etc. Never respond to unsolicited invitations or requests by providng your real name, date of birth, place of birth, social security number (social insurance number SIN in Canada), home address, telephone number, marital status, education level, place of employment, income, driver's licence number, height and weight, ethnic or racial background, hobbies, and other pertinent information about you or that of your family members or friends. Check out ZabaSearch.com or SearchSystems.net to see if detailed personal information about you is already accessible in thousands of free online public record databases by anyone at any time, with an option to obtain Background Checks on you.

Do not fall for any email phishing for your ID and password or asking you to update your banking or credit card info. The following is an authentic-looking email from eBay Inc <infos@eBay.erorr.com>, and another from eBay Billing <ebay.security@ebay.intl.com> complete with official eBay logo phishing for important personal information - Subject: eBay New Security Measure!

  • In order to receive uninterrupted service, please update this information.
  • To update your credit/debit card information:
  • - Go to http://www.ebay.com/account/MyEbayLogin&verifyinfoID
  • - Select My eBay and logon with your eBay User ID and Password
  • - Select Use a credit card for automatic payments
  • - Update your credit card information following instructions on the next page

Identity Theft from Office of Privacy Protection, California Department of Consumer Affairs
Top 10 Tips for Identity Theft Protection
leaf Identity Theft - Canada
3 key ways to reduce your risk of identity theft
Identity Theft: Could it Happen to You?
Phishing from PhoneBusters, Canadian Anti-fraud Call Centre.
Escrow.com. Protects Online Buyers and Sellers from Fraud. For Buyers: Receive merchandise before the Seller is paid. For Sellers: Protect yourself from credit card and payment fraud.

Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is co-sponsored by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C). Complaints filed via this web site are processed and may be referred to law enforcement/regulatory agencies for possible investigation.

24.    How can you tell if the email originates from a legitimate source? Check the HTML code to see where the link really goes and check the detailed headers to see where the email is coming from. If you are suspicious that the email address is not a real one and cannot be tracked, don't reply to that email, but go directly to the company's URL, then type in the company's good email address to send your reply. See Spoof (Fake) Emails Tutorial from eBay.

25.    Be sure the email address of your recipient is correct. If the user name is unknown, your email will not be delivered and you will receive an error message from the Mail Delivery System. If you have the wrong user name but it exists, you may be sending your email to a total stranger somewhere in cyberspace.

26.    Before rushing off an email composed in anger or frustration, send it to yourself first. If you still feel the same way in 24 hours and have no regrets, forward a gentler, modified version to your intended recipient.

27.    NEVER open an email attachment with the extension .exe .EXE (Executable file), or .jpg .JPG, .jpeg .JPEG (commonly used graphics file format) or .wmf .WMF (Windows Meta File) no matter how trusted the source without first scanning it with updated anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Don't go by what you see in the surface header because the usual, familiar-looking email address may be disguised and not be genuine. Be sure to check the detailed email headers to verify that the email originates from a legitimate source. Please note this word of caution from Brent Chivers: Spam and viruses routinely forge the sender address, so the true origin of a message is often not what the visible headers show.

28.    Never respond to email messages that ask you to dial a certain unknown phone number. Some area codes such as 900 could cost you a bundle.

29.    To avoid sending attachments that may contain viruses to friends, do not send a Web page link as an attachment, copy the URL and paste it into the text of your email.

30.    Don't subscribe to any email that you don't absolutely need. Often when you enter a contest to win something, you are not only giving away your name, address and phone number, you may be subscribing to newsletters and soliciting ads by giving away your email address to numerous other unknown businesses. You will likely be flooded with spam mail shortly after entering the contest.

31.    Unsubscribe (or block) all unwanted email subscriptions that you are currently receiving, but be very wary of the sites from which you are unsubscribing. The latest trick is to ask you to unsubscribe by carefully entering your email address. Your correct and confirmed email address may then be sold or passed on to others without your permission or knowledge.

32.    Never click on any suspicious junk email out of curiosity as that will constitute a response, and a response is a confirmation to the sender that this is your correct email address. You are asking the sender to please spam you some more, and do sell this live, accurate and updated email address to someone else without your permission. Find out - How do spammers harvest email addresses?

        DO NOT respond to e-mail such as this: "There is a large problem facing our nation that we all need to work together to fix. My children have received pornographic emails and I want it to stop. I found this site, www.remove.org that stops Spam and pornographic material in emails. We need to make sure that everyone knows there is a way to stop these emails. Please forward this to everyone you know so that we can stop this huge problem for good." If you did, you will be adding all the email addresses of your friends to spammers, besides cluttering the Internet.

33.    Use the BLOCK SENDER feature to stop annoying e-mail coming from sources that won't allow you to unsubscribe or e-mail addresses that do not really exist and you cannot get rid of.

34.    Use the FILTER feature to send unwanted in-coming email directly to TRASH and not to your INBOX.

35.    Do not mix the use of your good personal email account with the use of a junk email account. Guard your personal account by not giving your email address to just anyone. Open a free email account for use with the public, to register for access to Web sites, to enter contests, to receive potentially useless, annoying, and obnoxious email, etc.

36.    Empty BULK mail and TRASH frequently if they are not automatically removed. All of the messages can be deleted easily by clicking FROM and DELETE without having to read any of them. Save anything you wish to keep in DRAFT or in your own created KEEP folder, and it will stay in that folder until you delete it. Commands for above functions and options may vary with different email providers.

37.    Add the following at the end of your email if you do not want your receiver to broadcast or forward your email to someone else without your written consent:

This document and/or attachment contains confidential and/or privileged information. The rights to privilege have not been waived. Copyright is owned by I. Lee (enter your name or company name) without whose written permission, none of this document may be excerpted, reprinted, or forwarded to anyone.

Or use this statement:

Disclaimer: This message is intended only for the use of the Addressee and may contain information that is PRIVATE and CONFIDENTIAL. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please erase all copies of the message and its attachments and notify the sender immediately. Thank you.

There is no guarantee, however, that your receiver will honor your request.

38.    Always print, or save on disk or hard drive, a copy of important email you have received or have sent to someone.

39.    When you send email messages using To: and Cc: (Carbon Copy) all names or email addresses of the message recipients will be visible to all email recipients. If you use Bcc: (Blind Carbon Copy) the names or email addresses of the recipients will not be visible to either the To: or the Cc: recipients. If you want a record of the people to whom you have sent a Bcc: message, you will need to save or print the DRAFT before you hit SEND. Even if there are several people on your Bcc: list, each person can only view one name, the recipient himself or herself whose email address the message was sent to. The To: and Cc: names remain visible to all.

40.    Bcc: is a very private way to send email messages.  When you use Bcc: it will not allow that recipient to further forward other email addresses onto someone else.

41.    When forwarding an email message to someone, remove the original sender's email address unless it is the wish of the original sender that you forward his or her email address to your recipient along with the message.

42.    Don't add unnecessary clutter to the Internet by forwarding chain letters to show that you are a caring and loving person, or to bring luck to yourself and to 5, 10, 20 or more other people by email.

43.    Don't send free E-cards accompanied with music, sentimental or spiritual messages, animated cartoons and the like to your friends and relatives as all their email addresses as well as yours may become readily available for sale to third parties without your knowledge or consent. Don't be surprised that you and your friends suddenly receive tons of spam mail shortly after sending or picking up an e-card.

44.    Spam is unsolicited commercial email that has become an extremely serious problem on the Internet. Use the spam filtering or blocking software offered by your email provider free of charge, purchase such necessary software, or check out these sites to learn about E-mail filtering techniquesJunk e-mail and spam (How to Get Rid of Junk Mail, Spam, and Telemarketers).

45.    Learn to search effectively online as information on the WWW is not systematically organized.

46.    Set a time or item limit for research and try sticking to it.

47.    If you have a task to perform, don't allow cyber ads to distract you, stay focused on your task.

48.    Do not become overly addicted to the Internet and ignore your loved ones in the process.

49.    Bookmark your favorite sites.

50.    Immediately print or save information that you find useful, for you may never see the same site again.

51.    Make backups of all data that you don't want to lose.

52.    Keep important CDs, DVDs, boot disks, rescue disks, tape backups, etc. readily available for emergency use.

53.    If your system is terribly fouled up, and you don't have a program that would sweep it clean and fix it for you, FORMAT your entire hard drive as needed, and reinstall everything from scratch. Check out Tools for Webmasters for useful clean-up or fix-it tools, but use such software cautiously so as not to throw out the baby with the bath water by wiping out needed files along with the junk.

54.    Never delete important system files that you have no clue as to what they are being used for.

55.    Always use UNINSTALL instead of DELETE to get rid of unwanted programs if you have an option.

56.    To UNINSTALL or remove a program you don't want (if using Internet Explorer), go to Start - Settings - Control Panel. Click on Add/Remove Programs. Click on name of program you wish to uninstall. Select Change/Remove. Do you wish to uninstall "program name"? Click "yes." You will then get: "Program name" has been uninstalled from your system. Click "OK" and X to close and exit. (If you use browsers other than IE, similar options are available).

57.    Do delete useless files and email messages regularly.

58.    Every now and then CLEAN OUT all your COOKIES to eliminate offensive email or unwanted pop-up ads. The procedure to wipe out cookies may vary with different browsers. If using Internet Explorer, click on Tools, select Internet Options. Under Temporary Internet files, click on Delete Cookies box, click OK to Delete all cookies in the Temporary Internet Files folder. The cookies that you need and want will come back when you access those sites the next time.

59.    Be watchful of spyware residing in your computer often without your knowledge or consent. Such software violates your privacy, continuously uses memory on your computer when you are surfing, and adds to more clutter on the WWW.  Spyware is generally used to track or trace all your Internet usage in detail and the information thus gathered is sent to the software developer. Such information may be sold to third parties or used for other purposes not to your liking.

60.    It is a good idea to install a reputable spyware detection and removal program on your computer. You can download a copy of the highly recommended Spybot Search & Destroy for free, or a copy of Ad-aware also for free. The free version of Ad-aware is for individual use only and cannot be used at work. Companies can purchase the latest version of Ad-aware for a small fee. The purpose of both Spybot S&D and Ad-aware (adaware) is to scan your computer system to detect any software components that you don't want or are NOT aware of their existence on your system, and to provide you with an option to remove these hidden cookies.

61.    Check out Safety on the Internet from The Police Notebook, and Safe Computing Guide from TrendMicro for more safety tips.

62.    Be wary of using P2P Peer-to-Peer software. Take note of Copyright Infringement Liability, Data Security, Spyware, Viruses, and other associated problems.

63.    Health comes first. Be kind to your body and make sure that it gets the proper exercise, nutrition, and rest that it deserves.

64.    At the first sign of eyestrain, fatigue, cramps, hunger or thirst, quit.

Here's a bit of fun music to help you survive the Internet:
Dedodedo.wav (Hamster dance)