November 15, 2011

Tuesday Tip of the Day Protect Yourself Online

Over the past few weeks I’ve been taking a class in school called Computer Literacy. At first I thought the class was going to be all about how to turn on my computer, as it was a 100 course, but I’m actually learning a lot and enjoying it as well as the surprising challenge it provides!

One of the things I’ll be doing in class is completing a fairly extensive research project for the final which will include charts and a PowerPoint presentation. We were given a list of topics to work on and I decided to go with studying copyright in digital media. My plan was to study things like iTunes, Netflix, and blogs to see just what protections we have in place for our original content. Now I’m rethinking the focus.

A couple days ago I read an article about a few hackers in, I believe, Russia who hacked online click ads with a malware program that allowed them to make millions of dollars that wasn’t theirs. It was quite a scam and although they were caught I can imagine the people who were involved didn’t feel like their "genius" was used in the right way. I agree and it brought up my change of heart on the final for my class.

If we click on ads, if we click on links, if we click on pictures in Facebook how can we really know just what we’re clicking? How can we protect ourselves and our secure information? Is there a way to provide content for the world while still ensuring we keep our privacy intact? These questions and more came up in my own mind and I thought it would be a good reminder to just throw out there to everyone to keep a close eye on your stuff.

Try to stay off of strange sights, don’t click links, ads or pictures from sources you don’t trust and never (read: never, never, NEVER!) give your personal information out to anyone you don’t know. One of the quickest ways to ensure you’re more secure online is to always look for 'https' instead of standard 'http' in the address line of the site you’re on. For example, my blog up there doesn’t have the s because it isn’t a secure socket.

If I were to sell products here I’d have to ensure that s was there so my customers would feel secure in knowing their information was safe. For the simple act of reading a blog it isn’t quite as big a deal.

So the long and short of it is be aware of the dangers that are out there and study up on the latest in ways to avoid falling victim to the theft of your personal information. I’ll be sure to provide additional tips as I finish my project in the next couple weeks, I imagine it will prove quite illuminating!

Have you encountered any weird things online recently that made you question your privacy?

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