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Internet Safety


Practice Safe Computing

It is unbelievable how many Internet Nightmares happen on a daily basis. It is not hard to find a news story about somebody's identity getting stolen or a child disappearing or being molested by someone that they met in an Internet chat room or yet another virus on the loose. These are nightmares that can be avoided.

Maybe it would help if we thought of the computer as an automobile. It takes more than just turning the key to keep it running smoothly. It needs fuel and lubrication to keep it running. The tire pressure needs to be checked. It needs maintenance performed to keep things from breaking or to let you know that something could be going wrong that you may not know about. It needs to be washed and waxed to protect it from the elements. If these things weren't done then you would find an awful lot of rusting vehicles broke down on the side of the road. The most important thing to remember is that they don't drive themselves, they need to be driven and for that to happen a person needs to be taught how to drive.

A computer isn't that much different than an automobile. It needs to be tuned up and cleaned up to keep it running smooth. It needs regular maintenance and updates to insure that it stays running well. The most important thing is that people need to be taught how to use a computer. For the most part, a computer is fairly intuitive to use but there are things "under the hood" that need to be maintained. There probably isn't a parent reading this that would give their kids the keys to the car without the proper training, so why would they hand over the "keys" to a computer. This new high-tech generation needs to be taught how to drive safely on the Internet Superhighway.

What is this high-tech generation doing online? They are doing research, chatting, emailing, playing games and sharing files. What else? Chatting with people that they don't know, downloading pornography and downloading every new and "free" program available. They are doing all this anonymously and with ignorance. The anonymity makes them feel immortal, that they can do anything and go anywhere without being held responsible.

What are the parents doing while this high-tech generation is online? They are reading a book, watching movies, housekeeping and working. The computer is just a cyber-sitter, an electronic babysitter. It is hard for some parents to comprehend the threats that the Internet can pose and have little regard for the power and extensiveness of the Internet.

This is a perfect formula for a nightmare.

What happens, for instance, when someone installs a 'free" program that installs Spyware on your computer? You may not know that it's installed but it is. So now somebody out there could be watching everything that you are doing, logging your every keystroke. Scary. Adware/Spyware removal programs will remove the Spyware and keep your computer safe. The W32/Swen@MM virus and the W32/Mimail.i@MM virus both looked real official, one looked just like it came from Microsoft and the other from PayPal, but both wreaked havoc when unsuspecting users clicked on the attachment. Installed updated Antivirus software would have caught and stopped the virus from spreading.

Online safety demands personal integrity and the ability to recognize danger and respond appropriately. Kids, parents, all computer users need to realize that it takes more than pushing a button and a mouse to keep a computer and the Internet running smooth. Ignorance with nightmarish consequences, from legal complications to physical harm, leads to behavior that probably wouldn't happen if computer users were empowered with knowledge. Education is the key. Practice safe computing!

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