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Archive for the ‘Cyber Security’ Category

Practical Advice and Dialogue on Sexting

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

As a parent or guardian of a teen or tween today, you’ve probably heard ad nauseum about “sexting” and the dangers associated with this risky behavior. What you don’t hear much is practical advice for preventing it and how to talk to your kids about it. Resident experts on youth online safety issues have come to your rescue at ConnectSafely.org with these insightful points on both what sexting is and how to talk about it with your children.

A printable PDF version of the webpage is available along with some thoughtful dialogue on the issue from online safety experts, Anne Collier – “Sexting overblown? – yes and *no*” and Larry Magid – “Teen sexting – troubling but don’t overreact“.

Adware and Spyware

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

Two of the pieces of computer jargon that often come up in the context of safe computing are Adware and Spyware. It is important to note that these are two separate items, but often contain overlap in terms of the risk they pose to the individual.

Adware is a piece of computer code that resides on your computer that is designed to display advertising to you. Adware can cause pop-ups, slow down your computer by increasing the number of programs running, and can generally be somewhat annoying. Adware is often bundled in with legitimate downloads.

Spyware is a piece of computer code that resides on your computer that monitors you. Spyware can collect information on your Internet browsing habits, including any information that you type into your computer while on the web (such as usernames and passwords). Spyware is generally seen as having greater potential harm to the individual than Adware. Spyware is commonly bundled with illegitimate downloads; it is often times seen in files found on file-sharing networks. To learn more about the risks that file-sharing has for safe computing and kids’ safety, watch Ari Schwartz on identifying Spyware Symptoms (Video in RealPlayer format)   

Both Adware and Spyware are not good for safe computing. So how can you help protect yourself from Adware and Spyware? There are two ways. The first, preventative measures you can take to help keep your computer clean. Pre-ventative Tips:

• Know the symptoms of spyware: Before you can protect yourself from new spyware you have to make sure you do not currently have any on your computer. Learn more about spyware symptoms.
• Learn about examples of the most devious programs: The trickiest part of spyware is that there is not one clear-cut type. Knowing the many forms in which spyware may appear on your computer will help you remove or prevent it. View specific examples of spyware.
• Explore steps you can take to prevent spyware: Prevention is the key to a safe and secure computer. The tips to help you prevent spyware will also help keep viruses and hackers from taking advantage of your computer. Learn more about these prevention tips.

Secondly, there are many tools that will help you rid your computer of Spyware or Adware. You should know that each of the tool providers might define Spyware differently. You, the user, should be able to decide for yourself what you find annoying and want to uninstall or disable. GetNetWise offers a list of many different types of Spyware removal tools here: http://spotlight.getnetwise.org/spyware/tools/

Keeping Your Web Browser Security Up to Date

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

You face significant security risks online when you don’t regularly update your Web browser’s security patches. Using an un-patched browser can leave your computer open to exploits that range from becoming more vulnerable to ad-ware, spy-ware and viruses, to potentially leaving your entire computer vulnerable to being remotely accessed.

A recent Ars Technica news article indicated that a study conducted by Google, the Swiss Institute of Technology, and IBM found that up to 40% of Internet surfers are not using the most up-to-date version of their web browser.

Making sure that your web-browser is up to date is not as difficult as it used to be. Most browsers include a feature that allows the browser to check to see if it is the most current update. We recommend that you change your browser’s settings to automatically update its security software. Please view the new “How-To” video tutorials below to learn how to check to make sure you are using the most up to date version of your browser.

In Firefox:

In Internet Explorer:

Password Protect Your Apple Mac OSX

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

With market share for Apple Macs climbing we get more and more questions about privacy and security settings for the Mac. A reporter recently asked how to password protect a Mac OSX computer. Click the start button below for a quick video tutorial (with audio) on password protecting your Mac. Follow the tutorial to password protect the computer. It also shows you how to have password access kick in after the machine goes to sleep or after the screen saver kicks in. Last night Erik Kennedy blogged “Mac users need to think about security, too” on ars technica with some great tips as well. If you have a Windows XP machine, we have a tutorial for you here.

Here are the text instructions:

  • 1. Pull down the Apple Icon in the top left corner of the screen.
  • 2. Select the System Preferences menu item.
  • 3. After the window opens, select the Security button.
  • 4. Check the box next to Require password to wake this computer from sleep or screensaver.
  • 5. Next, below the heading For all accounts on this computer: check the box next to Disable automatic login.
  • 6. Also, for good measure, check the box next to Require password to unlock each secure system preference.
  • 7. Don’t forget to lock the padlock to prevent changes.
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