Safety online

This is not to say that there aren’t a lot of baddies out there with plenty of time and nefarious goals. But most internet safety is common sense.

This was driven home as I watched this news broadcast (in English) from DW-TV [YouTube]. It’s only five minutes long and well worth the time. You’ll be introduced to a Romanian internet criminal who was sent to prison by a grossly undermanned police force for scamming people in western Europe and the US who thought they were buying BMWs for a fifth the usual price via eBay.

And here on the “cutting edge,” a report (BBC) that baddies are promising a naughty file via their Twitter account. The most common bogus, malware, and/or spam links are those that are appealing to the pocketbook or the libido. What’s the common lesson? We’ve heard it a hundred times and it’s still valid: If something looks too good to be true, it probably is.

So what are a few other smart things to keep in mind?

  • Especially if you’re on a Windows OS computer, use protection. Most mentioned by the Windows users I know: ZoneAlarm and AVG.
  • Set up an account on your computer that’s not rated as an administrative account and run your day-to-day operations it. This holds true for both Windows and Mac users. That way you won’t “accidentally” install something you shouldn’t while busy with a dozen daily tasks.
  • Reduce your median annoyance level, do yourself a favor, and get some good spam protection. On a Mac, I recommend SpamSieve.
  • Whatever you do, if (when) you get spam, don’t click on the “remove me” link. (I’m not talking about a legitimate emailing here — like if you signed up for Macy’s or Outdoor Life emailings and now you’re tired of them. I’m talking about real spam.) If you click that link, your request goes nowhere, but you’ve just done the spammers a huge favor by telling them that they reached a real live person. Guess what. You’re going to get a lot more spam now.