Internet Risks

The Internet which gives us almost unlimited freedom to be able to do so much has risks too. Because the Internet is so easily accessible to anyone, it can be a dangerous place.  It's important to know who you're dealing with or what you're getting into. Predators, cyber criminals, bullies, and corrupt businesses will try to take advantage of the unwary visitor.

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Social engineering is the term used to describe any trick used to take advantage of inattentive or trusting people. It is essentially the art of manipulating people to perform actions or divulge confidential information. When it relates to IT, social engineering uses the additional cloak of "invisibility" through the Internet.

There are many examples of scams, and here are a few:


Fraud

Scams that used to be delivered by phone or mail are now being done online and through email. Auctions posting non-existent or falsely represented merchandise, money offers promising large sums of cash, financial scams targeting consumers with poor credit in hopes of receiving credit cards or loans, phony prize offers asking for payment for a prize that doesn't exist: all can snag the unwary or vulnerable visitor.


Predators and fake friends

Remain as anonymous as possible, which means keep all private information private; do not give out your real full name, age, home address, phone number, PPS number, passwords, names of family members or credit cards unless required for a legitimate business transaction.  Before you share information online first learn how it's going to be used and how it will be protected.  Remember even if you only share it with friends, it can easily be spread much further than that.


Fake web URLs

When searching for information, there are risks associated with popular search terms. Results may appear that will link to a fraudulent site. Searches for celebrities or current popular news stories of the day get the most hits from cyber criminals intent on luring users to their sites or products.

URLs within emails can carry the same risks for example in Phishing emails.  Learn how to recognize a fake URL and how to set your web browser's security settings to protect you against such sites. Turn off automatic pop ups and disable ads for added protection.

 

Adware, spyware, scareware, and viruses

Avoid downloading free software unless you are certain it's from a reputable company. Free programs are often a device for delivering malware such as adware, spyware and viruses. Be careful of sites that tell you to install a new "plug-in" or "media player" to continue.

Another way criminals try to snag users is by offering "malware protection" through a message that pops up saying a virus has already been detected on the user's computer (hence the term "scareware"). Instead of fixing the "problem," users end up downloading a virus laded piece of software. Install Sophos virus protection software and make sure your firewall is turned on for added protection.