Stay safe online

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Take a minute to think about how much of your life relies on the Internet.


Think about school (enrolling in classes, paying tuition), work (sending/receiving e-mails, making payments), transportation (booking flights, requesting quotes on cars), and even entertainment (online shopping, downloading music).

Now, think about what might happen if the security of all of these activities was compromised. Someone may have hacked into your university account because you used a public computer, or someone may have gotten a hold of your credit card information because you used an untrustworthy site to buy something.

So, you might be asking yourself, “What can I do to protect myself, my business, and my children from this phenomenon that has become such a large concern in the information world?” The first step to solving a problem, or better yet, preventing one, is knowing your enemy. Breaches in cyber security occur because, somehow, someone was able to access your information.

There are so many ways to equip yourself with the information that will motivate you to take any steps you can to navigate safely online at home and at work, protecting your business’

information, data, and money.

Protecting your business

Companies are at risk of any type of cyber attack, and businesses can be victims of “people who break into computer systems for criminal financial gain, espionage or politically motivated reasons.” Stay Safe Online. org advises businesses to assess any possible risks, monitor possible threats to the business, and draft a cyber plan.

Home business owners are also at risk, where just as much, if not more, damage can be done. Aside from keeping up-to-date on all software, it is important to choose passwords for online accounts that don’t contain dictionary words or clues that could be found from other obtained personal information.

Photos for sale

We all learned something about Facebook recently, most commonly by word of mouth, that shocked and dismayed. It seems that any photos you post on Facebook are now and forever the personal property of Facebook. This can cause major problems with models and photographers trying to market their work. Yes, it is an outrage, but Facebook hasn’t broken any laws… we just never read the fine print.

Here’s what it says: “By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant… an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license…to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display … such User Content for any purpose…”

It’s things like this that we need to be careful about-things that might be a minor inconvenience to one person, or a career-killer for another. In this case, knowledge is power.

The future of the web

The worry doesn’t end there. Your kids are also becoming well-versed in how to use the Internet, but do they know about all of the possible ways they could be at risk? Most children learn to not share their passwords and to not give out personal information to strangers in chat rooms. However, problems can reach much deeper than that. There’s also spam and sexual exploitation. In fact, “one in seven youths receive a sexual approach over the Internet.”

If we’re too late and a problem has already occurred, contact The Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre (CCIRC) at information and help.

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Password protection

1 Don’t choose obvious passwords for any online accounts and sites.

Update your software

2 When your computer gives you the option to update your antivirus software, do it! Think about it as your fire alarm. You’d never let the batteries die because if they do, your house and everything in it, including your family, could be at risk. Your files need protection, too.

Spread the word

3 Take everything you learn about Internet safety and spread the word-to family, friends, and coworkers.

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