Safer Use of the Internet

There are presently two similar efforts by the U.S. Government to promote safer use of the Internet.  The one by the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection is called Stop.Think.Click.  The other, developed by a group representing industry, government, academia, and the nonprofit sector in 2009, and promoted by the Obama administration and the Department of Homeland Security is called Stop.Think.Connect.

Stop.Think.Click defines seven practices for safer computing and provides tips on preventing identity theft, safe use of social networking sites, online shopping, Internet auctions, avoiding scams, and wireless security.  It also provides a glossary of terms.  The seven practices are:

  1. Protecting your personal information
  2. Knowing who you’re dealing with
  3. Using anti-virus and anti-spyware software, as well as a firewall
  4. Setting up your operating system and web browser software properly, and updating them regularly
  5. Protecting your passwords
  6. Backing up your important files
  7. Learning who to contact if something goes wrong online.

Go to Stop Think Click  for information about these practices and tips.

Stop.Think.Connect suggests that users do the following:

  • Stop. Before you use the Internet take time to understand the risks and learn how to spot potential problems
  • Think. Take a moment to be certain the path ahead is clear. Watch for warning signs and consider how your actions online could impact the safety of yourself and your family.
  • Connect. Enjoy the Internet with greater confidence, knowing you’ve taken the right steps to safeguard yourself and your computer.

You can learn how to become a partner in this effort by going to its website at www.stopthinkconnect.org This site also contains the tips and advice for doing the following. 

Keeping a clean machine:

  • Have the latest security software, web browser, and operating system.
  • Use programs that automatically connect and update your security software.
  • Protect all devices that connect to the Internet from viruses and malware.
  • Use your security software to scan all USBs and other external devices before attaching them to your computer.

Protecting your personal information:

  • Secure your accounts with protection beyond passwords that can verify your identity before you conduct business.
  • Make passwords long and strong with capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • Use different passwords for every account.
  • Keep a list of your passwords stored in a safe place away from your computer.
  • Use privacy and security settings to limit who you share information with.

Connecting with care:

  • Delete any suspicious e-mail, tweets, posts, and online advertising.
  • Limit the business you conduct from Wi-Fi hotspots and adjust your security settings to limit who can access your computer.
  • Use only secure websites when banking and shopping, i.e., ones with https:// or shttp:// in their addresses.

Being web wise:

  • Keep pace with new ways to stay safe online by checking trusted website for the latest information.
  • Think before you act when you are implored to act immediately, offered something that sounds too good to be true, or asked for personal information.
  • Back up your valuable information by making an electronic copy and storing it in a safe place.

Being a good online citizen:

  • Practice good online safety habits.
  • Post about others as you would have them post about you.
  • Report all types of cybercrime to you local law enforcement agency and other appropriate authorities